Eli Manning has amused fans by going undercover to try out for a college football program, with the football star nearly offered a place on the team.
Manning, 41, became homeschooled “Chad Powers” in the latest episode of his ESPN+ show Eli’s Places, which saw him try out for Penn State University’s football program as a walk-on.
To ensure that the players and coaches wouldn’t recognise the two-time Super Bowl champion, the former Giants quarterback underwent a physical transformation complete with facial prosthetics and a wig.
Manning then made his way into the stadium where tryouts were taking place, where he confirmed that he would be graduating in the fall and would be trying out for the position of quarterback.
As Manning walked onto the field, the video captured the other students’ reactions, with one person claiming there was no way “Powers” was a freshman, while someone else could be heard asking: “Who is this kid?”
At one point, Manning approached another football prospect to ask whether he was nervous about the tryouts. During their conversation, the teenager asked Manning how far he could throw, to which the former professional athlete replied: “Phew, probably 60, 65. I don’t know, that was back about seven years ago, so things might have changed, you know?” while laughing.
Others were more concerned with Manning’s appearance, with one coach overheard joking that he appeared “stuck in the 80s” due to his hairstyle. “Poor guy,” she added.
When it came time for the walk-ons to show the coaches their speed, Manning could be heard pumping himself up. “Fast Chad. I like that. Think fast, run fast,” the former quarterback said. Manning continued the mantra as he ran the drill, with the coaches ultimately clocking his time as 5.49 seconds.
At another point during the tryout, Manning was approached by a coach curious about his football history, with the coach questioning the 41 year old about the last team he played on. In response, Manning said: “I was homeschooled, so I never played ball.” After the coach appeared surprised by the response, Manning clarified that he played “pick up ball” and “watched a lot of film”.
“My mom was my coach,” he added. “And my teacher.”
The segment then showed Manning throwing a number of flawless throws, with the football player at one point praising his own skills, and looks.
“Chad Powers, you ain’t seen nothing like him. Not just good looking, I can throw it baby,” Manning said. “Chad, Chad, Chad. That’s what they’re going to be calling in Penn State stadium.”
While standing in a group with the other players, Manning also made an amusing reference to 44-year-old Tom Brady and his decision to continue playing professional football.
“If Brady can play till he’s 44, Chad can play until he’s 26, you know?” Manning said.
In addition to impressing himself, Manning’s display of athleticism during the tryouts earned praise from both the coaches and fellow prospects, with one of the Penn State coaches declaring he wanted to sign “Powers”.
“I want to sign the Chad Powers guy,” he said. “I think I see something in him.”
Unfortunately, despite Manning’s football skills, Penn State’s head coach James Franklin, who was in on the joke, ultimately disqualified him from the team at the conclusion of tryouts.
As the prospects took a knee following tryouts, Franklin said: “I got good news for you. I did some background check, and one of the guys that you guys have been competing with has kind of been disqualified for two reasons.”
“Number one, his testing numbers were awful,” Franklin continued, adding that Manning’s numbers did not meet “what we’re looking for”.
“But, on top of that, we found out that he’s ineligible. He has no eligibility left. Chad Powers, you’re ineligible. Come on up,” Franklin added, at which point Manning asked: “Does that mean I didn’t make the team Coach?”
Manning then stood in front of the group as he admitted that he “thought he had it” before removing his wig and facial prosthetics to cheers and applause as the team recognised him.
“I appreciate working with y’all today,” Manning told the team. “Y’all did great.”
On Twitter, where a clip of the video has been viewed more than 8.7m times, fans have praised the former athlete for the wholesome video, and for his sense of humour.
“This is sooo dope. I love it!” one person tweeted, while another said: “Best thing you’ll see today.”
According to someone else, the video was the “best thing to happen in sports this year”.
“This is art. I recommend watching the full 15-minute skit. Eli is seriously hilarious, love seeing this side of him,” another person tweeted, while one person added: “This is glorious.”