Peyton Manning has got it all: natural gifts, a great sense of humor and chicken parm (it tastes so good).
Manning, known as one of the best quarterbacks to ever step foot on an NFL field, has made nearly as much of an impression off of it with his surprisingly fun and humorous personality capturing the public eye on more than one occasion. In fact, it’s not a stretch to say that, even at the quarterback position, Manning might be one of the NFL’s greatest personalities ever.
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The former signal-caller has a hefty reputation as a naturally, genuinely funny character in both commercials and in sketches. He has dazzled us on the football field and made us laugh away from it, too.
So, on Manning’s 44th birthday, we’ll gift you seven humorous Manning moments that were decidedly Peyton:
7. ‘Chicken parm you taste so good’
The Nationwide commercials with Manning and Brad Paisley have jumped the shark, but there was a time where they were actually, legitimately entertaining.
I know that’s hard to be-lieve. (Read as the Nationwide jingle cadence.)
Arguably the best of the Manning-Nationwide jingle commercials was when he confirmed his love for chicken parm with a drippy, saucy, voluptuous sub, taking a massive bite. It makes our mouths water and tickles our funny bone.
6. Cable vs. DirecTV Peyton
While Peyton didn’t do a lot of the comedic lifting in this commercial, the imagery of him with very skinny legs is somehow both funny and nightmare-inducing.
Partnered with the other Peyton DirecTV commercial (high-pitched voice Peyton), this commercial campaign for the NFL Sunday Ticket was some of the best to feature football players, with Manning at the forefront. If there was ever a reason never to skip leg day again, this is it.
I wonder if he ever flattened that box?
5. ‘This Is SportsCenter’
There has never been a shortage of quality “This Is SportsCenter” commercials through the years, but the Manning sibling rivalry commercial has to be up there as a top-10 installment.
If you’ve ever wondered how Eli and Peyton get along away from the field, this commercial — featuring the rest of the Manning clan in father Archie, mother Olivia and brother Cooper — is probably a likely answer.
While Peyton eventually matched brother Eli’s Super Bowl win total with two, the doofy younger brother would never match the elder’s comedic timing or natural ability in comedy. Facts are facts. Sorry, Giants fans.
4. ‘Cut that meat!’
It wasn’t the first or last of Manning’s MasterCard commercials, but it was the best. Manning acting like a schoolboy fan of everyday folks is still great, with the “Cut That Meat!” chant the enduring moment in that spot.
Rumors say Peyton never washed his hand after slapping five with that accountant.
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3. 2017 ESPYs monologue
“John Cena is an athlete the same way Ryan Lochte is a reliable witness.”
Award shows are generally just glad-handing between extremely rich people, which usually makes for awkward viewing when you realize that it’s just a bunch of millionaires patting each other on the back for hours at a time. The ESPYs are no exception to that rule, even if we all love sports.
But Manning is such a natural at this that the jokes felt timely and unforced; the highlight of his monologue was his dig at Kevin Durant, who stone-cold death-stared after the joke landed. Really, it’s one of the few opening monologues from any awards show in the last 20 years that are truly memorable, (even if Peyton didn’t write his material).
2. NOT Peyton Manning
In case you didn’t know, this is Peyton Manning in this commercial. I know, shocking, right? They did a tremendous job on his makeup and costume.
Given sports’ propensity to humble athletes — really, how many times have you heard “It’s not about me, it’s about the team?” It makes me want to projectile vomit — seeing a guy don a wig and fake mustache to do his best Uncle Rico impression while patting himself on the back is pure hilarity.
1. ‘SNL’ United Way skit
Given how unfunny “Saturday Night Live” has been for longer than it has been funny, good skits are hard to come by. This Manning segment is, not arguably, the best thing the show has done in the last two decades, maybe longer. So don’t @ me.
Seeing Manning go full demon mode on kids who could be his own children is flat-out funny. Sorry, but there’s nothing like watching an All-Pro quarterback drill a 10-year-old in the back of the head with a football, and then telling him he sucks.
“I’ll kill a snitch. I’m not saying I have, I’m not saying I haven’t.”