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T-Rex skull provided more MNF novelty on Eli and Peyton’s final ManningCast of the season

Barack Obama, Michael Jordan or Oprah Winfrey would have been good options for Eli Manning and Peyton Manning to up the ante with the guests for the 10th and final ManningCast of the show’s inaugural season.

The less obvious choice: a T-Rex.

It appeared to reside at the home of Dwayne “The Rock’’ Johnson, the actor who made his guest appearance during the second quarter of the alternate “Monday Night Football’’ telecast on ESPN2. The sighting took place with the Los Angeles Rams handling the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC wild-card playoff game like T.J. Watt handles quarterbacks.

Eli: “Dwayne, you got a T-Rex behind you? What is that?’’

The Rock: “I got a T-Rex skull. That’s Stan. So, as a matter of fact, Stan is the most complete T-Rex skull ever found by a paleontologist, a young paleontologist. And his name was Stan, so this T-Rex head was named after him. It’s pretty cool and bad ass, isn’t it?’’

Eli: “I like it. I do.’’

The Rock was drinking out of a tequila bottle during his appearance, but he sounded sober when talking about Stan.

Quick recap: The Rock. Introducing his T-Rex skull. During “Monday Night Football.”

This is how the Manning brothers have lightened up – or is it twisted? – the MNF broadcast.


The Rock, who played football at the University of Miami alongside the likes of Warren Sapp, told the Mannings that Arizona Cardinals strength coach Buddy Morris is one of his favorites. Turns out The Rock met Morris when he was visiting the University of Pittsburgh as a high school recruit.

Offered Peyton, “I do have a strength coach, but he’s embarrassed to come out. He wants to remain anonymous. … It’s bad for business.’’


So Dwayne Johnson knows how to do more than pump iron and act. He can elicit interesting answers, too.

“As QBs, can you get a sense when a QB is down-and-dirty and ready to rock-and-roll and like ready to sneak (the ball)? Can you get a sense when he gets up to the line?’’ The Rock asked.

Replied Peyton. “A lot of times you can kind of tell by their body language, right, Eli? A lot of times he kind of cheats his back foot a little bit to get kind of a running start. That’s kind of the giveaway.

“Tom Brady’s the best. Tom Brady audibles to the quarterback sneak. He doesn’t give any giveaway.’’

MORE EXCITEMENT AHEAD? 32 things we learned from wild-card weekend

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Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, the actor, former pro wrestler and Miami Hurricanes football player, provided some levity on the final ManningCast of the 2021 NFL season.

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, the actor, former pro wrestler and Miami Hurricanes football player, provided some levity on the final ManningCast of the 2021 NFL season.


When longtime Arizona Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald joined the Mannings in the first quarter for his guest appearance, Peyton noted two things: 1) the Rams had brought former All-Pro safety Eddie Weddle out of retirement this week after losing their two starting safeties to injury, and 2) Fitzgerald was watching the Rams-Cardinals game Monday night from SoFi Stadium.

“Are you there simply because if the Cardinals lose some receivers you can go out on the field right now and play?’’ Peyton said.

Fitzgerald did not miss a beat.

“I probably couldn’t get open if you were guarding me,’’ he replied.


They played together for five years with the New York Giants, and that gives Eli credibility when assessing what the Rams need to do to get the best out of Odell Beckham Jr. after acquiring him during the middle of the season.

In short, no improvisation. That’s because Beckham and Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford don’t have the necessary chemistry to make that work.

“You run slants and skinny posts and play action, things where he’s done it a million times,’’ Eli said.

On Monday, Beckham looked dynamic while catching four passes for 54 yards and a touchdown.

“I love the way they’re utilizing him in the red zone,’’ Fitzgerald said. “He’s such a threat with his lateral quickness and his ability to be able to go up and high point the football and also with catch radius. He’s got one of the best catch radiuses in the game.’’


During the first quarter of the ManningCast, a hot mic caught Peyton saying, “I can’t hear (expletive).’’

He later explained that his microphone had “busted.’’ The problem resurfaced again in the fourth quarter, when Russell Wilson had joined the Mannings for a guest appearance.

While Peyton stared through the TV monitor wordlessly, Wilson said, “Just don’t cuss at the screen this time.”


After the brothers traded light barbs in the final minute or so, Peyton brought the ManningCast season by signing off directly to Eli.

“I’ll see you, bro.’’

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: The Rock and his T-Rex skull highlight NFL playoff game ManningCast

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