Retired NFL quarterback Eli Manning went undercover as a potential walk-on at Penn State in a viral video for ESPN and punk’d former CFL quarterback Danny O’Brien in the process.
In the video, Manning took on the pseudonym of Chad Powers to participate in one of Penn State’s two annual tryout days. A professional makeup artist disguised him with facial prosthetics, a moustache, wig, and sideburns in a relatively effective effort to hide his age and identity.
O’Brien, who is in his second season as an offensive analyst at Penn State, led Manning through a number of drills and asked questions about his background. Manning told O’Brien that he was homeschooled and never played organized football growing up. He claims his mother was his teacher and his coach, though he got poor grades because “she wasn’t very smart.”
O’Brien appeared to be impressed with Manning’s performance, which was confirmed by a statement he made to a colleague.
“I want to sign this Chad Powers guy,” said O’Brien. “I think I see something in him.”
After the tryout, head coach James Franklin — who shouldn’t be confused with the former CFL quarterback of the same name — disqualifies Manning due to his poor testing numbers and him not having any remaining eligibility. O’Brien is shown laughing as Manning removes his disguise to reveal his true identity.
During the credits, O’Brien indicated he grew suspicious of Manning when he started chanting “think fast, run fast” before running the forty-yard dash.
The video ends with Manning announcing that punter Barney Amor, who originally joined the team as a walk-on, has been awarded a scholarship.
O’Brien played six seasons in the CFL as a member of the Ottawa Redblacks (2014-2016), Edmonton Football Team (2017-2018), and B.C. Lions (2019). He threw for 1,045 yards, three touchdowns, and ten interceptions over 99 career games along with 31 carries for 87 yards and three touchdowns.
The 31-year-old retired to join B.C.’s coaching staff in 2020, though the CFL season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He officially joined Penn State in March 2021.
Manning was the first overall pick in the 2004 NFL Draft and played 16 seasons for the New York Giants, throwing for 57,023 yards, 366 touchdowns, and 244 interceptions. He famously defeated the New England Patriots in Super Bowls XLII and LXVI and was named to four Pro Bowls. His No. 10 was retired by New York following his retirement in January 2020.