Night net NEW YORK — The conventional wisdom says retired Broncos QB Peyton Manning has made too much money on and off the field to become an Night net T
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Peyton Manning has much to consider before taking a TV job


Peyton Manning has much to consider before taking a TV job

Night net NEW YORK — The conventional wisdom says retired Broncos QB Peyton Manning has made too much money on and off the field to become an Night net TV analyst.But the conventional wisdom is often wrong. Former NBA superstar turned Turner Sports analyst Charles Barkley gave the best explanation I’ve heard of why many retired athletes try to go into TV.MORE: Where does Peyton Manning rank among the all-time greats? It’s not so much the money or the media attention. It’s about finding something useful to do with their life, Barkley said this week during a CBS Sports/Turner Sports media event previewing their joint coverage of March Madness.Athletes are creatures of habit, used to daily routines. After decades of playing a sport, they suddenly find themselves ripped from their comfort zone with little purpose other than golfing, hanging around the house or schlepping the kids off to practice.“When you retire, you don’t have a job. You’ve got to find something to do. Peyton Manning is only 40 years old. Most guys are retired by their early 30s. You can’t just sit around. You can only carpool so much,” said Barkley, who played 16 seasons in the NBA before becoming an Emmy-winning studio analyst on TNT’s “Inside the NBA.” (Getty Images) Athletes have surprisingly limited options once they retire from the sports that made them stars, Barkley said. It generally boils down to three things: broadcasting, coaching or a front-office gig.Said Barkley: “Peyton Manning’s been out of the workforce for 20 years. You can’t just walk up to Microsoft and say, 'Hey, I want to come work here.’ It’s a very difficult process when you retire. Because you don’t have a job. Peyton Manning played for 18 years. He’s probably got a college degree. Maybe, maybe not. That’s irrelevant. What kind of a job is he going to get? It’s a very limited window of jobs. He’s got plenty of cash. But you've got to find something to do.”Given his charm in media interviews, and comic timing in TV commercials and "Saturday Night Live" appearances, Manning seems like a natural. His knowledge of the game and pre-game preparation are legendary in the TV world, where QBs typically sit down with a TV announcing crew to go over pre-game storylines.Then again, other ex-players such as Joe Montana and Emmitt Smith flopped on TV. There’s no such thing as a sure thing. The key to success on TV is entertaining viewers as much as educating them on X’s and O’s.“You have to reach a common ground. (With 'Inside the NBA') you have to do basketball — and make people have fun,” Barkley said. “We could go on TV and talk about pick and rolls and defense. But people don't want to hear that for three hours.”MORE: Read more columns from Michael McCarthyAt some point, ex-stars turned analysts must come to terms with being part of the same media they resented as players. If that means criti

cizing former teammates and coaches, then so be it. Welcome to the dark side.Said Barkley: “We have to criticize people. You can’t just sit there and watch bad basketball and say it’s good basketball. If one of your players does something stupid, you have to call them stupid. I wish I never had to say anything bad about a player. So Peyton’s got to make that decision. Man, this job is not easy.”Announcers Greg Gumbel and Ian Eagle on ManningLike many Night net broadcasters who’ve sat across the table from Manning during production meetings, CBS’ Greg Gumbel was always impressed with Manning’s preparation. But can he speak in short sound bites for TV?“I always found him fascinating to have a conversation with prior to a game. He’s very thorough. But being succinct is a little bit of a challenge once you get on TV.  You don’t have all the time in the world. We would sit with Peyton and talk with him for 45 minutes before a game. Peyton wouldn't have 45 minutes to talk once it comes to game time,” said the respected play-by-play announcer. “Like everyone else, you learn. He’s a smart guy. If he wants to do it, he’ll be able to. The question is: Does he really want to do it?”Ian Eagle of CBS has a unique history with Manning. The play-by-play announcer called Manning’s first Night net start against the Dolphins on Sept. 6, 1998. So the first QB he sat down with for a pre-game production meeting was Manning, the No. 1 overall pick by the Colts.“I was blown away. He was a rookie. He had not yet played an Night net game. He knew my name. He knew every storyline. He knew everything about the opponent,” Eagle said. “I walked out of the meeting saying, ‘Wow, these Night net players are really prepared.’ I quickly realized, no, Peyton Manning is really prepared. If he wants to do this, he will be excellent.” (Jeffrey R.Staab/CBS) At least three Night net partner networks have confirmed to me they’re interested in Manning: Fox Sports, ESPN and Night net Network. He will likely be offered a choice of being a studio analyst on a show such Fox’s top-rated “Fox Night net Sunday” or ESPN’s “Sunday Night net Countdown.”Or going on the road and calling games as a color analyst the way other Super Bowl-winning QBs such as Troy Aikman, Phil Simms and Terry Bradshaw launched their TV careers.Being a studio analyst has its advantages. There’s less travel. You don’t have to deal as much with players and coaches. On the other hand, teaming up with a top play-by-play announcer such as Gumbel or Eagle could put Manning on the path of becoming the next John Madden.“I can tell you on a personal level, there is a lot of satisfaction in preparing for a game, calling a game, walking away from it and starting the process again. Weekly routine,” Eagle said. “If you’re doing games, you’re doing sports. If you’re doing studio, you’re doing television. So it depends. What does he want to do?”

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