Peyton Manning on His 'Second Chapter' — Super Bowl Ads, SNL and Maybe a 'Cameo' on Emily in Paris

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Peyton Manning on His 'Second Chapter' — Super Bowl Ads, SNL and Maybe a 'Cameo' on Emily in Paris
© Provided by People Michelob Ultra

It’s been six years since Peyton Manning retired from the NFL, but the former quarterback still has a starring role during the big game on Sunday.  

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Manning is appearing alongside actor Steve Buscemi and a crew of professional athletes — including tennis star Serena Williams, soccer player Alex Morgan, NBA player Jimmy Butler, WNBA star Nneka Ogwumike and golf pro Brooks Koepka — in one of Michelob Ultra’s three Super Bowl commercials, which will air during the NBC broadcast on Feb. 13.

“I think everybody will get a kick out seeing all these different athletes — both male and female athletes — hanging out with some beers, bowling for some friendly competition,” Manning tells PEOPLE exclusively about the ads set at Michelob Ultra’s Superior Bowl, a vintage, fantasy bowling alley where some of the biggest names in sports gather to hit the lanes.

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“Even though I’m not playing, [I] still feel like I’m actually a part of the Super Bowl,” adds Manning, who says the commercials are a good reminder “to enjoy the journey and not just the destination” — something he hopes both the Cincinnati Bengals and L.A. Rams players are taking to heart this week, as excitement and anticipation builds for their matchup at SoFi Stadium in L.A. on Sunday.

“I think about [quarterbacks] Joe Burrow and Matthew Stafford, and I hope they’re taking the time to soak it in. I hope they’re not, like, ‘Hey, let’s get to the moment and fast forward through this,'” says the five-time NFL MVP, who won championships with both the Indianapolis Colts in 2007 and Denver Broncos in 2016. “Come Super Bowl time, I think about those moments of joy that I experienced when I was playing and I hope they are getting them too, knowing they’re about to play in this game.”

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Peyton Manning on His 'Second Chapter' — Super Bowl Ads, SNL and Maybe a 'Cameo' on Emily in Paris
© Provided by People Jim McIsaac/Getty Peyton and Eli Manning in 2013

Although Manning is revered for his cerebral, intense play on the field and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame last year, he turned the tables this season by stepping into the world of NFL broadcasting with younger brother and former Giants quarterback, Eli, to host ESPN2’s Monday Night Football with Peyton and Eli — more affectionately known as “Manning Cast.”

“Eli and I watched a lot football growing up along with my family, so basically that’s what we’re doing. We’re sitting on the couch watching the game and the viewers get to sit down and watch with us,” says Manning, who broadcast from a studio near his home in Denver while Eli filmed from his house in New Jersey. “And if something really cool happens, we get to talk about some football. And if nothing really exciting is happening, we get to talk to Phil Mickelson, Snoop Dogg, Condoleezza Rice, Sue Bird or Charles Barkley about how much they love football.”

Manning continues: “I loved playing football, and I would have played for free. People don’t believe that, and I probably wouldn’t have told the owners that but I would have because I loved it so much. I think people who really have a passion for what they do would do the same. And so, in this second chapter and with the different projects I’m involved in, I work hard but it’s only worth it if I enjoy it—which I am.”

Peyton Manning on His 'Second Chapter' — Super Bowl Ads, SNL and Maybe a 'Cameo' on Emily in Paris
© Provided by People Will Heath/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images; COURTESY OF NETFLIX

One of those fun recent projects was a surprise appearance on Saturday Night Live’s “Weekend Update” segment, where Manning raved to co-host Colin Jost about his strong affection for Emily in Paris and joked that the silver lining of the then-rumored retirement for Tom Brady could be “more time” to binge the Netflix hit series.

“There are a lot of people coming up to me now that tell me they watch Emily in Paris,” says Manning, who admitted on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon that he hasn’t actually watched the series starring Lily Colins (She’s a fan, by the way—especially of the red beret Manning wore during the bit.) “So I don’t know if I’m going to get asked to have a cameo on the show in season 3 or what!”  

While Manning says he enjoyed the whole SNL experience and watching the clip go viral after airing, the father of 10-year-old twins, son Marshall and daughter Moseley, also had another reason for doing the segment. “I took my son to the Packers-49ers game. You know, Lambeau Field, in the snow, in the elements — it was an awesome experience. And when we came back home, I could tell my daughter was feeling like she missed out. So I was looking for something to even the playing field, if you will,” he says.

“I had been talking to Saturday Night Live on-and-off about doing something and they said, ‘Would you consider coming in and maybe doing a Weekend Update one weekend?’ I called them and said, ‘Hey, how about this Saturday?’ So I brought my daughter with me, and we got to go behind-the-scenes and watch the rehearsals,” he says. “It was a really fun trip.”

The former quarterback, who showed off his sharp comedic skills when he hosted SNL after his first Super Bowl win in 2007, says he told producers he was up for anything and let the writers take the reins. “I didn’t really know what the idea was going to be until Friday and they sent me this concept. And they said, ‘What about you doing a skit about watching Emily in Paris?’ And I said, ‘Let’s go for it, let’s do it!’ It was fun to do.”

And, yes, Manning sent that video to his good friend Tom Brady.

“I talked [to Tom] first when the unofficial news came out. I sent him a text saying, A, I hope you’re on a beach somewhere on another planet right now. And B, I thought you could use a little humor so I sent him a link to the Saturday Night Live skit. I said, ‘Maybe you ought to watch Emily in Paris during this time.’ He texted me back with a big smile and said he wishes he were somewhere else too,” Manning said with a laugh.

Peyton Manning on His 'Second Chapter' — Super Bowl Ads, SNL and Maybe a 'Cameo' on Emily in Paris
© Provided by People Tom Brady/Instagram

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Last week, after a firestorm of reports and rumors, Brady announced via Instagram that he was retiring from the NFL after 22 seasons.

“Obviously once he officially announced, I texted him saying that a text just doesn’t do this justice. So I wrote him a hand-written letter,” says Manning. “That’s something I’ve always believed in. A text for a 22-year career like Tom Brady’s just doesn’t quite do it justice. So it was a chance to just sit down and put pen to paper and talk about some of the different things he and I have experienced together—on the field and off the field—and just congratulate him for doing it the right way, doing it at the highest level, and doing it for such a long time. It’s simply awesome.”

“You know, my greatest takeaway from my years of playing were the relationships I made, and the friendships with my teammates and coaches and even competitors, like Tom. He and I have a great friendship and I’m honored to have that.”

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