Eli Manning goes undercover as Penn State walk-on Chad Powers
There might have been a time when Eli Manning felt like a no-name in the shadow of his father, Archie, or his brother Peyton. The two-time Super Bowl champion is now a full-blown celebrity himself, but perhaps wanted to go back to his anonymous roots.
For an episode of "Eli's Places" that released Monday, the New York Giants great goes undercover as a walk-on player at Penn State University. The Ole Miss standout was heavily recruited out of high school and said he wants to experience a different aspect of football.
He meets up with Nittany Lions head coach James Franklin, who explains that at their elite program, players trying out for the team aren't called "walk-ons," but "run-ons."
"Just trying to emphasize there's no walking in this process," he said.
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Manning undergoes a makeover, complete with facial prosthetics and a blond wig and mustache, to become his alter ego, Chad Powers.
Before his workout, Powers soaks in the facilities and gets a motivational FaceTime call from Peyton.
"If you throw as well as that mustache looks, then I think you're gonna make the team," the elder brother shared. "... Don't come out throwing deep right away, get some completions in early."
Powers arrives at the tryout ready to compete, dad bod and all, befriending the other quarterbacks and scouting the wide receivers. He creates the nickname "Fast Chad" as he prepares to run the 40-yard-dash, which he completes with a time of 5.49.
Penn State offensive analyst and former quarterback Danny O'Brien, who filled in for Russell Wilson after the Super Bowl winner left Wisconsin and had a professional career in the Canadian Football League, is among the coaches scouting the aspiring Nittany Lions. They are confused by Powers' lack of experience as a homeschooled student and by his personal appearance.
"It looks like he's stuck in the '80s," a coach said. "Poor guy."
Manning throws plenty of tight spirals while overthrowing several receivers, ignoring his brother's earlier advice. Some of his superstar nature peeks through.
"I want to sign the Powers guy," O'Brien said to another coach. "I think I see something in him."
Powers' day of fun is cut short when Franklin declares him ineligible at the end of the day. He calls the prospect up and Manning pulls off his wig and makeup, revealing himself to the star-struck students.
It wasn't just the students that were entertained by the hijinks. Current Giants running back Saquon Barkley said on Twitter, "I'm crying" with laughing emojis. Manning responded, "Chad Powers is not a man… He is a way of life!!"