Peyton Manning's new show on ESPN+ debuted this week, proving to be a "mostly irreverent look at the history of the NFL through conversations with players, coaches and other key figures as the league heads into its 100th season," according to Sam Farmer of the L.A. TIMES. "Peyton’s Places" is a 30-episode documentary series that "will be presented in five chapters, each consisting of six episodes." Manning "wanted to do something different, and that meant telling some of the hidden, curious and comedic stories in his own style." He said, "It’s everything that I thought it was going to be, and just the little things that I’ve gotten to be a part of. I just knew that I was never going to get to do this again. It’s been worth the travel and the time" (L.A. TIMES, 8/1). In Chicago, Rick Telander noted Manning "crisscrosses the U.S. on a series of shoots, checking out the people and places that helped build America’s favorite sport." There is a lot of "deadpan humor involved," as the show will be "informative but also loaded with Manning’s particular form of innocent, endearing slapstick." NFL Films producer Neil Zender, who is directing the series, said that there "might not be anybody else who can host these episodes the way Manning does." Zender said, "He loves people. He connects with them, and he is so likeable" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 7/27). ESPN’s Dan Le Batard said Manning is “very good at television” and is “very comfortable doing funny things, comedically showing you his personality.” Le Batard: “It’s why he’s one of the best pitchman ever” (“The Dan Le Batard Show,” ESPN Radio, 8/1).
SAME SHERIFF IN TOWN: In N.Y., Will Leitch wrote Manning has been retired from the NFL for three seasons now, but an "argument could be made he’s still the league’s most marketable export." He is still "without question, along with Tom Brady, the most recognizable figure in the NFL." The former MVP's status is "indicative of just how well-honed a public relations apparatus that Manning and the NFL have set up." Manning is considered "squeaky-clean." However, he has dealt with an alleged "PED scandal" and "MeToo scandal." He also has a "Trump Connection." This is "not to say that all of these should be weighed equally, or necessarily even be career-killers for Manning." But it is "strange that Manning remains so blissfully free of controversy" (NEW YORK magazine, 7/30).