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Eli Manning Goes Undercover At Penn State Football Tryout

In August, retired Giants quarterback Eli Manning showed up at a Penn State football practice and placed punter Barney Amor on a full scholarship. It was a heartwarming story, but given Manning’s complete lack of connection to any Penn State sport, it was mildly out of left field.

In a video posted to ESPN’s social media accounts Monday, it was revealed Manning was in Happy Valley filming a comedy spot for his TV show “Eli’s Places.” In the 15-minute segment, head coach James Franklin conspired with the two-time Super Bowl champion to send Manning undercover as a walk-on quarterback trying out for the Nittany Lions.

Wearing a Hollywood disguise, Manning assumed the identity of “Chad Powers” — a part-time substitute teacher, part-time carpenter, and full-time fan of Penn State football.

Before donning the makeup and beginning the tryout, Manning discussed the tryout process with Franklin.

“We call ’em run-ons here,” Franklin said. “Just trying to emphasize there’s no walking [in] this process.”

With that, Manning Powers signed in to the walk-on run-on tryout.

“Run fast, think fast,” Manning muttered to himself, as he ran a weak 5.49 40-yard dash for Penn State’s evaluating staff.

When offensive analyst Danny O’Brien came over to chat with the 41-year-old, Manning said he was homeschooled and never played football but watched a lot of film — a pleasing answer to O’Brien, who was not initially aware of the prank.

An amused Franklin looked on as Manning worked through some individual throwing and footwork drills.

“If Brady can play ’til he’s 44, Chad [Powers] can play ’til he’s 26,” Manning quipped.

In Powers’ defense, there is somewhat of a precedent for that around here.

Manning then moved into the open route portion of the workout. He was intent on showing off his strong arm, directing his receivers to run fly routes for that purpose.

“I wanna sign the Chad Powers guy,” O’Brien said. “I think I see something in ’em.”

At the tryout’s conclusion, Franklin corralled all the run-on prospects for a parting message.

“I did some background check and one of the guys you’re competing with has kind of been disqualified,” Franklin said, addressing the roster hopefuls. “Number one — his testing numbers were awful… not what we’re looking for. But on top of that, he’s ineligible.”

Manning then removed his disguise and exposed his true identity, to the delight of his fellow participants.

“Chad Powers may not have made the team, but he learned a lot,” Manning said. “Walk-ons give their heart and soul to a program, with no promise of ever taking the field on game day.”

To watch the Penn State clip in its entirety, check out ESPN’s YouTube video. The entire episode of Eli’s Places will debut for streaming Wednesday on ESPN+.

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About the Author

Sam Fremin

Sam is a senior from Ashburn, Virginia, majoring in journalism and political science & minoring in German and creative writing. He is a Dallas Cowboys fan who relishes the misery of Eagles fans. All hate messages can be sent to sam@onwardstate.com or @SamFremin on Twitter.

He may or may not read every single comment he gets.

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