Eli Manning did an undercover Penn State tryout as QB Chad Powers.

GOSSIP & RUMORS: Eli Manning talks viral Penn State walk-on video prank

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Eli Manning’s still got his deadpan comedic timing.

Manning is working with older brother Peyton’s Omaha Productions and NFL Films on “Eli’s Places,” which airs on ESPN+ and covers the history of college football. They’ve been exploring walk-ons — including Stetson Bennett, who was previously a walk-on at Georgia, and ultimately led the Bulldogs to last season’s national title — and Penn State has open tryouts twice a year.

In that vein, Manning thought it would be fun to go undercover at a Nittany Lion tryout as the long-haired, mustachioed Chad Powers — and the video immediately went viral.

“I wanted to see if the coaches would be interested in me,” Manning told The Post on Monday. “Head coach James Franklin was in on it, but didn’t really tell any of the other coaches.”

There was some intrigue from Danny O’Brien, an offensive analyst at Penn State who played QB in college at Maryland and Wisconsin — but he eventually figured something was up.

“By the end of it, he knew something was going on, just because of the way I looked, and how I was telling receivers what routes to run and how to run them — and I was talking some football lingo that I shouldn’t know, but knew coaches would know. I’m sure they’re not getting what ‘read’ many walk-ons are working on,” Manning said.

He was also ad-libbing new stories about where he was from, what he was doing — and claiming that he was homeschooled and coached by his mom.

“There was no script — it was just trying to be more outrageous every time I said something,” Manning laughed.

Manning, who won two Super Bowls with the New York Giants, wore a wig that as one observer in the production noted made him look like he was “stuck in the 80s.”

Eli Manning did an undercover Penn State tryout as QB Chad Powers for an Omaha Productions video.
Omaha Productions

Was he concerned that the wig would fall off when he ran the 40-yard dash?

“No, the wig was bobby-pinned pretty, pretty tight,” Manning explained. “I started sweating a bit, and it kept flying in front of my eyes, so I kept having to put my hand through it and getting it through my face. It was so tight that they told me when I revealed myself at the end that I’d probably want to take out a few of the pins first so I could get the wig off easier.”

One concern Manning did have? Hurting himself in the drills.

Eli Manning spoke to The Post about the behind-the-scenes aspects of the Chad Powers video produced by Omaha Productions.
Eli Manning spoke to The Post about the behind-the-scenes aspects of the Chad Powers video produced by Omaha Productions.
Omaha Productions

“I knew I could still throw — it’s like riding a bike, and you never forget how to throw a football,” Manning said. “But it wasn’t really until that day that I was told I’d have to run a 40, do a 5-10-5, do a broad jump, triple broad jump. My No. 1 concern of that was don’t pull a hamstring. It doesn’t matter what I run, the slower the time the better really.”

One of the reasons the bit worked is that the 41-year-old Manning has a baby face, and with the right makeup could actually pass for someone in his 20s. As far as the secrets of his youthful looks, he revealed that he does have a skincare routine.

“I put some facial moisturizer on every morning. It’s a habit of having dry skin; I’ve been doing it since I was 13 years old and had bad acne. I was washing my face so much that it got dry, so I had to use a little skin lotion.”

He also said that he gets ample rest — falling asleep quickly, and usually sleeping for “at least” 7 1/2 hours a night.

Two people Manning wanted to shout out after the success of the Chad Powers bit were producers Tim Rumpff and Steve Menzel from NFL Films, who have helped him brainstorm ideas and write scripts for the show.

“They put me in the frame of mind to be myself — but also see the big picture of what we want to do,” Manning said.



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