Peyton and Eli Manning Conquered the NFL. Now They’re Conquering Sports Media
Former NFL quarterbacks Peyton and Eli Manning won four Lombardi Trophies and three Super Bowl MVP awards in their Hall of Fame-worthy careers, which included 18 combined Pro Bowl appearances. The brothers have now parlayed that success into a high-profile media gig — and sports fans have taken notice.
For the past two NFL seasons, the duo has achieved a newfound stardom as co-hosts of the “ManningCast,” an alternative “Monday Night Football” broadcast on ESPN2. A new Morning Consult survey showed there’s strong public approval of the Mannings’ post-retirement career path.
Among self-identified sports fans, Peyton and Eli scored net favorability ratings of 60 and 55, respectively, making them the most popular NFL media personalities out of a list of dozens of media figures who regularly cover the league. At the bottom was Skip Bayless, the FS1 commentator who has frequently drawn the ire of fans for his provocative takes. (Net favorability rating is the share of respondents with a favorable opinion minus the share with an unfavorable opinion.)
Peyton Manning Is the Most Popular NFL Media Personality
Mannings are still winning
- Nearly 7 in 10 sports fans (69%) said they have a favorable opinion of Peyton Manning, compared with 64% who said the same for Eli.
- Three-time Super Bowl winner Troy Aikman, who reportedly signed a five-year deal worth $90 million in 2022 to join ESPN’s “Monday Football Football” booth with play-by-play caller Joe Buck, followed the Mannings with a net favorability rating of 48 among sports fans. Buck had a net favorability rating of 22.
- CBS Sports analyst and former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo and Amazon.com Inc.’s Al Michaels rounded out the top five most popular NFL game day broadcasters, recording net favorability ratings of 40 and 36, respectively.
- Among sports fans, 12% said they have an unfavorable opinion of Buck and Romo, the highest share among any play-by-play broadcasters and analysts included in the survey.
- Former NFL tight end Greg Olsen, who’s drawn praise as an analyst in Fox’s top NFL booth this season, had a rating of 30, while his partner and play-by-play caller Kevin Burkhardt recorded a net favorability rating of 16. Both will call Sunday’s Super Bowl for the first time on Fox.
“Fox NFL Sunday” crew praised. Skip Bayless, not so much
- Pittsburgh Steelers legend Terry Bradshaw, now an analyst on the “Fox NFL Sunday” studio show, scored the highest net favorability rating (54) of any non-game day NFL media figure or talking head included in the survey. Four of the top five in the group, including Hall of Famers Michael Strahan (45) and Howie Long (44), represent Fox.
- Bayless, co-star of “Undisputed” with Shannon Sharpe, was the least popular NFL opinionist with a net favorability rating of 6, followed by ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith (10). Sharpe scored a net favorability rating of 28.
- Nearly 1 in 5 sports fans (17%) said they have an unfavorable opinion of Bayless, the highest share for any media figure in the 68-person survey.
- ESPN’s Adam Schefter is the most popular NFL insider with a net favorability rating of 25. He just edged out the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, who scored a net favorability rating of 23.
A new Manning empire?
Eli and Peyton coached the NFC and AFC teams, respectively, in last weekend’s Pro Bowl. The younger Manning, Eli, competed in walk-on tryouts for the Penn State football team last fall in a viral moment, while the elder Manning has remained a pitchman for brands like PepsiCo Inc.’s Frito-Lay and launched a new TV series this week on the History Channel, counting down the top 10 greatest of all time across several categories, including sports cars, inventions and toys.
Even in retirement, the Mannings are more visible than most active NFL players — and sports fans resoundingly approve.
The Jan. 13-15, 2023, survey was conducted among a representative sample of 1,533 self-identified sports fans, with an unweighted margin of error of +/-2 percentage points.
Mark J. Burns is a senior data reporter at Morning Consult covering the business of sports. @markjburns88