Eli Manning expressed regret for making a joke at Russell Wilson's expense during Monday night's ManningCast.
During the ESPN2 telecast, the former New York Giants quarterback discussed Sunday night's often-ugly game between the Denver Broncos and San Francisco 49ers with Peyton Manning and ex-punter Pat McAfee. Although they escaped with an 11-10 victory, Denver's offense struggled mightily en route to 10 punts from Corliss Waitman.
That led Manning to suggest the Broncos "should've paid that punter $235 million instead of Russell." Denver gave Wilson a five-year, $245 million extension before the season started.
Per Michael McCarthy of Front Office Sports, the younger Manning said he didn't intend to insult Wilson.
“No, I don’t think we’re trying to be critical. I think we always try to support the guys that are in the game." Manning said. "I think sometimes, ‘Hey, it’s live TV.’ I never try to take a real shot at somebody. I think that was obviously a very outrageous joke — because a punter had 10 punts. Nothing against Russell. He’s going to do great."
While Manning may have made the comment in jest, plenty of onlookers are legitimately concerned about Wilson's poor start. The longtime Seattle Seahawks star has thrown just two touchdowns in three games with a 59.4 completion percentage and 83.2 passer rating, both of which would represent the worst marks of his 11-year career.
However, Manning said he expects Wilson to rebound after growing more comfortable with his new organization.
“It’s hard going into a new offense, a new system. It takes some time," Manning continued. "It’s not going to be perfect after three weeks. I’ve been in that situation. It can take five or six weeks before you get comfortable with the coaches. It’s not just the quarterback. It’s all the players coming together, learning a new offense, and getting together and getting on the same page."
The Mannings may not plan to criticize players, especially a fellow quarterback who appeared on the ManningCast last season. Yet fans gravitate to their broadcast for their off-the-cuff banter.
So far this season, Peyton has already roasted the New York Jets and embodied every fan watching Denver's surprising Week 1 loss to Seattle by signaling for a timeout 62 times during the closing possession.
Those moments rarely happen in a traditional announcing booth, so they might not want to shy away from critical jokes too much.