It’s been almost three years since he attempted his last NFL pass, but Eli Manning can still sling it. Shooting an episode of Eli’s Places for ESPN+, Manning went incognito during a recent visit to Penn State, trying out for the Nittany Lions as walk-on “Chad Powers.”
Manning’s transformation required hours in the makeup chair, taking on a new identity with flowing brown hair, a prosthetic nose and a mustache inspired by the character Matthew McConaughey played in his breakout role, Dazed and Confused. The Giants great even invented a backstory, claiming to be a substitute teacher (despite being homeschooled himself) and part-time carpenter.
With encouragement from his older brother Peyton, Manning arrived bright and early for his workout at PSU’s indoor practice facility, sharing the field with a handful of other walk-ons hoping to earn a roster spot for the 2022 season. Never known for his athleticism, the 41-year-old tested poorly, underwhelming in the 40-yard dash (5.49) while submitting a similarly disappointing broad jump (7’10”). Luckily, Manning/Powers fared much better in passing drills, impressing coaches with his arm strength and accuracy.
Though his disguise was less than convincing (recognizing the former Super Bowl MVP from a mile away, coach James Franklin quipped, “I’d know that Manning face from anywhere”), the stunt was well-received, producing no shortage of memorable quotes, including an observer who said Eli looked like he was “stuck in the 80s.” Before leaving campus, Manning surprised the team at practice, announcing walk-on punter Barney Amor will receive a full scholarship this season.
While “Chad” was ultimately cut, it made for a fun day in Happy Valley, helping create a moment Amor and his teammates will never forget.