Peyton Manning’s legendary Saturday Night Live appearance remains one of the most memorable in the program’s history.
More than 11 years ago, Manning was the program’s host. Part of his appearance was a classic spoof of a United Way commercially where he repeatedly beaned small children with a football.
It’s always been a question how Manning could throw apparently hard bullet tosses at child actors. On Wednesday at an appearance in Indianapolis, he cleared up how the skit came about.
— Nicki Jhabvala (@NickiJhabvala) August 30, 2018
It’s also explained in a story in the Indianapolis Star, where Peyton said his mother would have trouble understanding the humor in the skit, even with Nerf cutout footballs and enhanced sound effects.
“We did this one skit that people ask me a lot about. We did this spoof for the United Way, and we were throwing footballs at these kids, which doesn’t sound very good. Those footballs were Nerf footballs, a Nerf cutout, and were light as a feather, and they put in these sound effects where it looks like you’re knocking these kids out. I remember the director said, ‘Peyton, you’re a charitable guy, this is why it’s going to be funny. And it’s only going to work if you’re all in, and you whack these kids right in the head.’ And I kept saying my mother is going to be so disappointed.
“These kids were all child actors, and their parents were out there watching the whole time, and it was all very awkward and uncomfortable. So I finally told the director, ‘I can’t do it, I can’t do it. I’ll go up to the edge, but this feels over the edge. I’m not comfortable.’ And he said no problem we don’t have to do it, we don’t wanna make you do something out of your comfort zone. And right then, I cannot make this up, one of the parents of the child actors runs out onto the set and tells the director, ‘I want him to hit my kid in the face!’ I said I will do it. I will knock your kid out.”
The skit still resonates to this day. And it shows how Manning’s comic delivery might be among the best of any athlete to appear on the show during its 43-year history.