published Monday, May 7th, 2012

Wiedmer: Eli Manning's SNL moment good warmup for Best of Preps in Chattanooga

Just in case you didn't already know this, New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning will complete perhaps the most cherished triple crown in professional football when he speaks to this newspaper's Best of Preps banquet at the Chattanooga Trade and Convention Center on June 7.

On that Thursday evening, Manning will become the first two-time Super Bowl MVP to also host Saturday Night Live and speak at the Best of Preps.

And you thought a second Super Bowl ring and MVP award were the only two things Eli had on big brother Peyton.

Now the question for the Times Free Press is whether or not we can use Eli's trifecta as a bargaining chip to entice the only other two-time Super Bowl MVPs to host SNL -- New England Patriots QB Tom Brady and retired great Joe Montana (who actually won three MVPs) -- to also speak at Best of Preps.

Nevertheless, Eli's appearance at our premiere event made watching Peyton's little brother on SNL must-see TV late Saturday evening, if only to catch a glimpse of the treat our finest high school athletes will enjoy.

Remember, SNL's supposed to be a comedy show, so we assume that Manning was only joking when he said his favorite New York City Italian restaurant is "The Olive Garden in New Jersey. Hey, I play for the New York Giants, and all my games are in New Jersey."

We also assume he was kidding during the skit where he was asked to wear a motion capture suit (think black tights covered in ping pong balls) for a spoof on video games in which the game's creators wanted him to strike his best touchdown celebration pose.

Manning, of course, doesn't really have one of those, so he lamely attempted to create a pose by eating an invisible sandwich off the ground after dropping it before the faux creators stepped in to suggest a couple of celebrations.

First up was tossing a grenade, which Manning executed as if he were a five-year-old girl throwing away a wet rag. When the director asked, "Is that how you throw a touchdown pass?", Manning replied, "No, that's how I throw a grenade."

Finally, Manning said he could do a celebration that was both "intimidating and iconic." He then copied Tim Tebow's signature kneeling in prayer, which a pretend Tebow had already executed before Manning entered the skit.

Of course, truth may prove stranger than fiction when the 2012 NFL season begins with Tebow quarterbacking the New York Jets as Manning runs the Giants.

There was also a semi-amusing skit about Eli being a bad boyfriend on a game show and a not-suitable-for-prime-time skit (for Best of Prep invitees) with Eli as a drag queen contestant.

In fact, more than once during the 90-minute show it would have been understandable for a viewer to exclaim, "Oh, Brother, Where Are Thou?", in reference to Peyton, who arguably turned in the best performance ever by an athlete hosting SNL during his 2007 star turn.

But it was also a skit referencing Peyton that delivered Eli his best moment. Spoofing a hilarious United Way send-up that Peyton had perfectly executed five years earlier -- "Oh, I'm sorry. Do you WANT to lose? I throw, you watch. It's not that hard," Peyton screamed at an 8-year-old kid -- Eli starred in a "Little Brothers" skit aimed at Big Brothers.

Supposedly intent on standing up for little brothers everywhere, Eli lurks over a young man he's just tossed into a car trunk and says, "Maybe now you'll learn to treat your younger brother with respect, Peyton."

When the guy in the trunk replies, "My name is not Peyton!", Eli growls, "Whatever."

It's a whole lot bigger than "whatever" for a two-time Super Bowl MVP and Saturday Night Live host to speak to Best of Preps. In fact, only one other former Best of Preps speaker has ever hosted SNL -- Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps.

Said Eli of Saturday Night Live: "Other than winning two Super Bowls, this is definitely the most exciting night of my life."

At least until June 7 arrives.

Contact Mark Wiedmer at mwiedmer@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6273.

about Mark Wiedmer...

Mark Wiedmer started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press on Valentine’s Day of 1983. At the time, he had to get an advance from his boss to buy a Valentine gift for his wife. Mark was hired as a graphic artist but quickly moved to sports, where he oversaw prep football for a time, won the “Pick’ em” box in 1985 and took over the UTC basketball beat the following year. By 1990, he was ...

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BldwinK said...

Do people remember Peyton's ENTIRE SNL episode or just The United Way skit? Because that's all they reference when talking down Eli's performance-which was surprisingly hilarious in parts. There were bad skits from bad writing. Just like Peyton's appearance. Kinda like all SNL performances.

I thought BOTH Peyton and Eli were terrific hosts. And my kids are still quoting from Eli's skits.

June 5, 2012 at 1:28 p.m.
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