Peyton Manning is one of the greatest and most famous football players of all-time. He has hosted Saturday Night Live, appeared in countless commercials and, oh yeah, won a couple of Super Bowls. Now, he’s hosting his own series on ESPN+.
The second season of Peyton’s Places is in full swing and it follows the NFL great around the country as he explores the history of the National Football League, one piece at a time. For this 11th episode Peyton takes a look at the history fo the Super Bowl halftime show.
The episode opens with Peyton visiting the Los Angeles Coliseum, where he meets up with NFL Hall of Fame wide receiver James Lofton. As a 10-year-old child, Lofton attended the first Super Bowl, which at the time was known as the AFL-NFL World Championship game.
Lofton tells the story of his experience, with some interesting bits of information like the $12 ticket price and the fact that there was no line to get into the stadium. With the game being played in Los Angeles, fans weren’t interested in watching a team from Wisconsin play a team from Missouri.
Peyton and Lofton take their seats in the stadium and we see some images from the production of the game. We also see that the field has been painted exactly how it was for that game. They discuss the amount of empty seats in the stadium and we hear an old broadcast explaining that fans were encouraged to take better seats in the center of the stadium to make a better impression for the TV cameras. It’s a fascinating look back at the history of the game and unbelievable to see a day after the incredible event that is today’s Super Bowl.
They then get into the halftime show, which for that first Super Bowl consisted of a couple of marching bands, balloons, pigeons and a guy with a jetpack. Manning explains that, at this time, people thought of jetpacks as the future, as we see one being used in the James Bond film Thunderball. We then get to see footage of the first halftime show, in which two men fly jetpacks around the field for a few seconds.
Manning then gets into Lofton’s career a little bit. The wide receiver was eventually drafted by the Packers and played for coach Bart Starr, the winning quarterback of that first Super Bowl. We see some of Lofton’s highlights, including some great one-handed catches. That prompts the pair to head down to the field and reenact a one-handed catch that led to the first touchdown of Super Bowl 1. This is far from the first time we’ve seen Peyton and another player recreate a classic play, but with the field being set up just as it was for that game, this was certainly one of the best.
Peyton decides to recreate another moment from that game – the jetpack flight. They dig up the old jetpack from a closet in the coliseum and Peyton suits up to take flight. After Lofton warns Peyton against this stunt, and some really great jokes, Peyton does take flight. And it was totally him and not a stunt double. The hilarious green screen footage they show of Peyton flying around the field is one of the funniest bits this show has ever done.
After he wraps up with Lofton, Peyton explains that, over the next decade, the Super Bowl changed but the halftime show did not. We see some hilarious clips of various halftime shows as Peyton refers to them as “weird and creepy.” Peyton explains that this trend continued until the comedy sketch show In Living Color changed things forever.
Peyton heads to the former site of Fox soundstage 7, where he meets with Keenen Ivory Wayans, the creator of In Living Color, on what else but a football field. Wayans explains that all of the shows were the same and describes them as “pageantry but no substance.”
Peyton explains that In Living Color was the hot new show on Fox, which at the time was not airing football games. Wayans tells the story of being approached by someone from Doritos about running a show opposite the Super Bowl halftime show. Wayans explained that is clicked for him that he could catch the audience when they weren’t looking. We see some clips from ads for the halftime special as well as some of the special itself.
We even get to see a clip of Jennifer Lopez doing an ad for Doritos during the In Living Color special. Lopez would of course go on to perform during the Super Bowl halftime show last year. Manning then explains that the In Living Color special was up against an ice skating routine and that he would take Wayans and Jim Carrey over that any day. Wayans explains that if this special had never happened the NFL may never have changed their halftime shows. Instead, the NFL responded by getting Michael Jackson to perform the following year.
Peyton then runs through some of the all-time great halftime shows and highlights the 2007 show which featured Prince. Peyton points out that he missed that one because he was in the locker room preparing for the second half of the game itself. Wayans explains that he takes some credit for the NFL making the halftime show what it is today but that history doesn’t have to repeat itself and no one should go up against it again.
This was a fascinating episode of Peyton’s Places, even if it barely got into any football itself. We do get a great look at the first Super Bowl, but aside from that the focus is more on pop culture. It’s still a very informative episode and definitely one of the most entertaining. We get to see a lot of spectacular shows as well as Peyton just being Peyton.
Peyton’s Places is available now on ESPN+. Fans can subscribe to ESPN+ for just $5.99 a month and can cancel at any time.