I want to be clear that I wasn’t a slacker today. This morning, we took the kids to an event at our church, and, when we got back, I mowed the front yard. It was only after this that I sat down in front of the television, turned on the ESPN family of networks, and saw NFL players fishing.
I later learned that this was "Battle of the Gridiron Stars," with Mike Tirico and Kirk Herbstreit covering professional football players competing on teams in sports other than football . . . including, I saw to my surprise, fishing.
It was weird, but it was can’t-look-away weird, and, besides, Hines Ward was on the show, so I had an emotional investment and a rooting interest at stake, so I stuck around and even went so far as to call my son into the room to watch it with me.
One of the boats contained the Manning brothers, which added a new level of intrigue to the proceedings. (At one point, Peyton was pulling in a fish and his catch got caught on the back of the boat, prompting the Indianapolis Colts quarterback to state flatly, "Motor, my ass." Just seconds earlier, I’d have bet you cash money that the latter word was not a part of Peyton Manning’s vocabulary, except in the "thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s" sense.)
It turns out, though, Eli Manning knows his way around a bass boat. He was, by leaps and bounds, the finest fisherman of the lot, and his big brother absolutely got schooled (sorry).
While watching Eli Manning fish, I felt moved to turn to my wife and work a football term and a "Godfather" reference into the same smart-aleck remark, saying: "Eli’s secret is to say a ‘Hail Mary’ every time he drops his line into the water, but what he doesn’t know is that, as soon as their mother is dead, Peyton is going to have him killed."
She laughed, but then it occurred to me . . . ESPN Original Entertainment should remake "The Godfather" starring the Manning family. Suddenly, the idea burst forth fully formed, and I realized this was perhaps the finest notion to have occurred to me since The Sound and the GameDay. Consider the lineup:
Archie Manning as Vito Corleone: He was the founder and architect of the family dynasty. Despite coming from humble beginnings, he made a name for himself and established the empire his sons will inherit. His iconic status in his home territory is unparalleled and he has the capability of wielding absolute influence there, although he uses his power only sparingly. Although he generally is deemed above criticism, an honest assessment of him compels the admission that his traditionalism held him back by causing him to stick it out with the sad-sack New Orleans Saints or decline to enter the lucrative narcotics market with Virgil "The Turk" Sollozzo.
Cooper Manning as Santino "Sonny" Corleone: As the oldest, he was the natural heir to the throne, and early indications were that he would fulfill his destiny. As an all-state receiver in high school, he caught many of the passes that made Peyton a star while making a name for himself in the process. Both Cooper and Sonny were cut down in their prime: Cooper, by the spinal stenosis diagnosis that ended his football career; Sonny, by an unfortunate encounter at a toll booth.
Peyton Manning as Michael Corleone: Ultimately, he ascended to the top of the hierarchy and demonstrated the full mastery of his father’s skills. He is as adept as anyone around at reading the opposition, anticipating what the other side is thinking, and shrewdly changing the plan when circumstances warrant it for the purpose of taking care of business. I will grant you, though, that it’s hard to imagine him shooting anyone in an Italian restaurant.
Eli Manning as Fredo Corleone: Admittedly, here is where the analogy starts to break down, as Eli is a good deal more competent than Fredo. However, if you’ve watched as many DirecTV ads as I have, you know just how wide the gap is between Peyton and his younger brother as commercial pitchmen, so Eli shares with Fredo an inability to articulate. Besides, it’s not too tough to imagine Peyton coming up to Eli at the New York Giants’ Super Bowl victory party after the younger Manning had been named the game’s most valuable player and saying, "You broke my heart, Eli. You broke my heart!"
Personally, I’d like to see it, if only to hear all that wonderful dialogue rendered by the Mannings, although I’m still trying to figure out whether David Cutcliffe works better as Clemenza (who tutored Michael) or Tessio (who was always smarter). If that’s not your cup of tea, though, we could always cast them in a remake of "The Lion in Winter" . . . although I suspect Peyton would balk at that upon reading the script and exclaiming aloud, "I did what with the king of France?!?!"