This might be a tougher crowd than a rowdy Giants stadium. Giants quarterback Eli Manning will stand under a different kind of spotlight Saturday night while hosting “Saturday Night Live,” his first time leading the sketch comedy show.
After scoring a Super Bowl win in 2008, Manning was invited to host the show, but opted not to because his brother, Peyton Manning, had just hosted himself — after winning the 2007 championship with the Indianapolis Colts.
“I thought it might be a little fresh in everyone’s mind,” Manning said Wednesday. “I didn’t want to have to go up against tough competition and the great job that he performed.”
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Since winning the Super Bowl, Manning has been undergoing offseason conditioning, and he said he would host the show only if it didn’t interrupt workouts. He lives in Hoboken with his wife and baby daughter.
He’ll face some stiff competition — Peyton’s performance was widely praised, in sketches that showed him teaching children how to break into cars and hitting one with a football during a coaching lesson.
If promos for the show are any hint, guests can expect Eli to toss a few footballs and crack jokes about his athletic prowess. Another toss-up is whether he’ll be paired with Rihanna, the show’s musical guest.
“SNL” executive producer Lorne Michaels said he pursued Manning for years, calling him “charming.”
“You sort of believe that he doesn’t take himself that seriously,” Michaels said. “There’s this sort of essential modesty to him, and I think that plays well with what we do.”
“If the host is spending a lot of time protecting an image, it’s exhausting, particularly for us,”?he added.