Eli Manning Is Enjoying 'Taking Some Shots' at Peyton During Their Monday Night Football Broadcasts

The former Giants quarterback said he and "big brother" Peyton spend the days in between Manning Cast games texting friends and players to get them on the show

Eli and Peyton Manning
Eli and Peyton Manning. Photo: Frazer Harrison/Getty

Eli Manning didn't expect to become a broadcaster when he retired from the New York Giants in 2020, but as he and brother Peyton head into their fifth night of Monday Night Football with Peyton and Eli — more affectionately known as 'Manning Cast' — he's having "a lot of fun."

"Every Monday I get to sit on my couch and watch football with my big brother," the former quarterback, 40, tells PEOPLE. "I'm taking some shots at him and having some great guests on there to analyze the game and hear their thoughts. It's been a lot of fun."

The Manning Cast games have been an unexpected hit for ESPN, with Eli and Peyton breaking down the game with the knowledge and experience that comes from them both being two-time Super Bowl champions with a bevy of MVP awards and NFL records between them. And along with the commentary from the two brothers (which has also included Eli shaking his hips like Shakira and flipping the bird, uncensored), they're bringing on top stars from the sports world and beyond, from Tom Brady to LeBron James to Sue Bird.

To grab those celebrity guests — which will include Jon Stewart, Michael Strahan and Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen for tonight's game between the Kansas City Chiefs and New York Giants — Eli says he and Peyton often reach out themselves.

"It's a lot of guys that we have personal relationships with, just sending out some text messages to get them," he says. "Like, 'Hey, would you like to come on the show?' I think it's always a bit easier when you have a guest that you have a personal relationship with, so you know what you can ask them and bring up something that's funny."

Peyton and Eli Manning
Peyton and Eli Manning in 2013. Jim McIsaac/Getty

Eli will have dueling interests for the game this week — along with broadcasting during the game, he'll be cheering for the Giants and for players on his fantasy team, which he's been maintaining with the help of ESPN Fantasy Football's Trade Assistant with IBM Watson, which uses artificial intelligence to figure out the best players each week.

It's Eli's second year playing fantasy football, and it's going better than his first attempt last season.

"I started last year for the first time and it didn't go all that well," he says. "I kinda thought, I can figure this out. I played long enough. I know the players, I know teams, I'm going to draft guys that I've played against that are really good, draft a few buddies and some Giants players. But that is not the way to configure your fantasy football teams. I learned that the hard way."

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This time around Eli "has gone all Watson," and he was sitting at a respectable 4-3 record after week seven, "right in the mix" in his league, made up of a group of friends from where he lives in New Jersey.

Along with getting back into the game with fantasy, Manning Casts and his new job with the Giants in business operations and fan engagement, Eli is also rooting on his nephew Arch, the son of his eldest brother Cooper who is expected to be one of the top recruits when he enters his senior year of high school next fall. Arch is being heavily courted by Eli's alma mater, the University of Mississippi, but Eli says he's not pushing his nephew just yet.

"I've told him, 'Hey, enjoy being a junior in high school, enjoy being with your buddies, playing football. You're trying to win a state championship for your high school football team and enjoy the recruiting process. Don't be stressed about it,' " Eli says. "'Enjoy the moment.' "

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