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Peyton Manning, Phil Mickelson and Eli Manning in November during Mickelson’s appearance on the “Manningcast.”
Phil Mickelson, golfer, was talking football as if he were Phil Mickelson, quarterback. The six-time major champion had joined brothers Peyton and Eli Manning, themselves former QBs, in mid-November on their “Manningcast” broadcast and was dissecting the Monday Night Football game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Los Angeles Rams with almost as much care as he would show in trying to hit a wedge.
Mickelson asked about 49ers rookie running back Elijah Mitchell: “So looking at the Niners, I know they’ve struggled a little bit. And No. 25 there, Elijah Mitchell, he came in as a sixth-round draft pick and beat out Trey Sermon from Ohio State as a third-round pick, and you see this happen where a lot of guys come in who are lower draft picks or what have you and they outplay people ahead of them. What about Elijah Mitchell, what about players who are drafted later in the rounds gets them to propel into the starting lineup? Is it heart? Is it work ethic? Intellect? What do you guys see?”
He asked whether the Rams should consider running the football: “I got a football question here, all right. The Rams, their strength, they’re the third passing offense. They’re an awesome passing team. But you lose Robert Woods, you don’t have the chemistry with a new receiver. So do they play to their strength, or do they, down 14, go against the opposing team’s weakness, which is the run. San Francisco is almost last in stopping the run. Would you consider running the football, trying to get a little more physical and try to control the game and keep it close, playing to their weakness, or playing to your strength. What would you say?”
On and on it went. And after an announcement on Wednesday, the back and forth could continue — in the sport Mickelson is best known by.
ESPN said it will expand its agreement with Peyton Manning’s Omaha Productions Company, which last year started the “Manningcast,” where the Manning brothers would watch Monday Night Football and be joined by various guests. As part of the deal, “alternative presentations” will be shown for UFC, college football and, yes, golf.
A press release did not reveal which events would be broadcast — ESPN is the home for Masters and PGA Championship coverage, and its ESPN Plus platform broadcasts PGA Tour Live — nor did the release say who would be the hosts. When asked specifically about golf, Andy Hall, ESPN Communications Director, told GOLF.com: “We don’t have any more details at this time but will be exploring in the future.”
Of course, that won’t stop us from having a little fun. If the Manningcast style is used, the thought is that it follows the Manning formula — a well-known athlete, with personality and connections. Here, then, is who could be in the booth.
Why not? They understand the format and guest part, and they both can knock it around on the golf course — Peyton has been part of two Matches (teaming with Tiger Woods in the second version, and Steph Curry in the third) and Eli proved his golf chops during Mickelson’s Manningcast appearance. Sort of. There, Eli hit into a simulator, and Lefty offered the following critique:
“Well, I mean overall, one word to describe it is cute. I think it’s a cute little swing.”
If Golf Twitter is any indication, Mickelson would be the host with the most. His brief appearance in the CBS booth during the 2020 PGA Championship was perhaps more memorable than any shot he took that year. You would imagine he wouldn’t have trouble lining up guests, either. (Though if he’s playing golf in another league … But maybe that frees him up for TV work!)
Is Charles Barkley a pro golfer? No. Is Charles Barkley a golfer? It’s getting better. But is Sir Charles one of the most entertaining analysts, regardless of sport? Yes. Some would argue that his commentary during the Matches has played the biggest part in making them what they are — entertaining. And you would think there would be no shortage of personalities who would love to jab Barkley’s golf game.
If there’s a format that fits David Feherty, it’s this. Watch the golf? Cool. Dish on a story about golf, but not necessarily about the golf at hand? Cool. He’s been Manningcast before Manningcast. And Feherty hosted a wildly popular talk show on Golf Channel. Playing with others wouldn’t be hard.
A long shot, right? Maybe. Though in an interview with Golfweek’s Adam Schupak last year, the longtime NBC analyst was asked if he would consider coming back for the majors or the Ryder Cup, and Miller said, “I could do that.”
Tiger Woods may not be as verbose as Mickelson or Barkley. But no player moves the needle in golf like the 15-time major champion. He was last in a booth in December during his Hero World Challenge, too, and as golf’s biggest name, guests wouldn’t be a problem. If you’re a Woods fan, and his return from injury is delayed, this is where you want him to be.
During the Zozo Championship, Golf Channel picked a different player each round to join its broadcast, and Rickie Fowler, Pat Perez, Charley Hoffman and Ryan Palmer dished on their rounds, the course and the play in front of them. (After the event, GOLF’s James Colgan offered a list of other pros he’d like to see in the booth in that setup, and you can find that story here.) It would require some coordination to make sure that a spur-of-the-moment pro would be enlightening, but who better to give insight to that tournament than a player in the event?
Nick Piastowski is a Senior Editor at Golf.com and Golf Magazine. In his role, he is responsible for editing, writing and developing stories across the golf space. And when he’s not writing about ways to hit the golf ball farther and straighter, the Milwaukee native is probably playing the game, hitting the ball left, right and short, and drinking a cold beer to wash away his score. You can reach out to him about any of these topics — his stories, his game or his beers — at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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