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Could Eli Manning’s Chad Powers Become Next Ted Lasso?

  • Hollywood interested in Manning’s comedic QB character.
  • Manning disguised himself as a walk-on trying out at Penn State.
Chad Powers
ESPN Images

Move over, Ted Lasso. Here comes Chad Powers.

Eli Manning recently disguised himself as a walk-on quarterback at Penn State. The comedy bit on “Eli’s Places” has been such a hit that Omaha Productions has been approached by Hollywood execs who see Powers as the basis for a scripted “Ted Lasso-type” show, according to TMZ.

Creating a TV program off a sports comedy bit sounds far-fetched. 

The 41-year-old Manning is probably far too busy with his “ManningCast” of “Monday Night Football,” his ESPN+ show, and endorsement duties for sponsors to take on a full-time acting role. 

But stranger things have happened. Jason Sudeikis first portrayed the “Lasso” character in a series of promotional TV spots for NBC’s Premier League coverage in 2013. 

Like Powers, Lasso’s ad buffoon went viral. The critically acclaimed sports comedy-drama “Ted Lasso” was nominated for 20 Emmy Awards in both its first and second seasons on Apple TV+. 

So who’s to say Chad Powers can’t live on with another actor? Or as an animated character? 

During an interview with Front Office Sports, Manning said he was looking forward to going undercover for Season 2 of “Eli’s Places.”

Penn State coach James Franklin was in on the gag. But the two-time Super Bowl MVP for the New York Giants seemed to fool other players and coaches at Penn State’s fall football tryouts.

Wearing a wig and prosthetic nose, Manning sells the role of a 26-year-old walk-on wannabe. 

Chad Powers’ past is a mystery. He was home-schooled by his Mother — who doubled as his football coach. All the time, Powers keeps jabbering to himself in the third person, with exhortations like, “Fast Chad. Think Fast. Run Fast.”

“I was excited to get out there, go undercover and compete. And see how I would do,” Manning said. “I had not thrown routes or drills in three years. You don’t know what’s going to work — or how it’s going to go.”

Manning worried about injuring himself during the 40-yard dash. His goal was to get to the throwing drills — where he knew the real “entertainment” would begin.  

The other walk-ons and coaches (besides Franklin) looked askance at Manning/Powers. 

“It was a lot of fun. Just the reaction of some of the coaches and players. Looking very confused,” recalled Manning. “They knew something was going on — but couldn’t quite put a handle on it. What’s up with this guy? What’s going on? So they asked a lot of questions trying to figure it out. I got to make up more stories — and create the legend of Chad Powers. So it was a really fun episode. I’m glad a lot of people enjoyed it.”

For now, Manning’s alter ego lives on.

Older brother Peyton Manning teased Eli Manning about the character’s hair and nose on the “ManningCast.”

After Manning zinged Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson on Monday night’s “ManningCast,” Wilson jokingly countered: “I’m 3-0 against Chad Powers.”

The fast-growing Omaha has filed trademark applications for “Chad Powers” and “Think Fast. Run Fast.” The entertainment company boasts multiple revenue streams from unscripted TV, scripted TV, documentaries, live events, and branded content. So Omaha has plenty of options to monetize the character.

Manning’s sponsor IBM Sports & Entertainment tweeted the “plucky up-and-coming QB” could be a good waiver-wire pickup for fantasy football. 

Manning himself enjoyed discussing the Powers character on the “Tonight Show” with Jimmy Fallon. The character’s name and persona were inspired by Austin Powers, Kenny Powers of “Eastbound & Down,” and Uncle Rico from “Napoleon Dynamite,” he said.

“Chad could really throw it. He would have made the team — but he’s ineligible,” noted Manning.

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