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Volume 23 No. 14
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Networks target Peyton Manning for on-air role

The most sought-after free agent this offseason will be a 39-year-old quarterback who is well past his prime.

The NFL’s network partners are preparing a recruiting blitz to hire Super Bowl-winning quarterback Peyton Manning for an on-air role. Manning has not yet divulged his plans for next season. But sources with CBS, ESPN, Fox and NBC said they want a chance to convince Manning to work as a studio or game analyst.

Could Manning move from under center to behind the mike?
Last week, I asked CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus about his network’s plans to woo Manning, and he was up front about how much he’d like to have Manning wear a CBS blazer.

“If and when Peyton decides he wants to pursue a career in broadcasting, we will contact him,” McManus said. “We’ll certainly have a conversation.”

It’s no surprise why the networks want to hire Manning. He has enjoyed a great relationship with all the TV networks that have covered him throughout his 18-year career. I was struck by The MMQB’s story about Manning’s production meeting with CBS the Wednesday before the Super Bowl, which ended with about 15 CBS producers and talent giving Manning an ovation. When was the last time a group of TV executives gave a player a standing ovation? Personally, I had never heard of this happening.

“I have always heard that Manning is the best at telling the insider anecdotes that you might hear on a telecast,” The MMQB’s Peter King wrote last week. “In other words, Manning respects the broadcasters enough that he tries to help them do their jobs.”

No wonder so many TV networks want a retired Manning on their team.

— John Ourand