Manning Brothers, Part 2: Omaha Productions' Halloween Special spotlight on ND football

Mike Berardino
ND Insider
Retired NFL star Peyton Manning conducts filming outside Notre Dame's Washington Hall on April 28, 2022

SOUTH BEND — They’re ba-aaack.

With Halloween fast approaching and this Notre Dame football season in need of a jolt, the Manning Brothers are riding to the rescue. This time they’re teaming up with Class of 2022 graduate Jerome Bettis to bust the ghost of another Irish football legend: George Gipp.

Dubbed “Peyton and Eli’s Spooky Adventure: A Places Universe Special,” the 26-minute Notre Dame infomercial from Omaha Productions will premiere at midnight Sunday on ESPN+. A crew from NFL Films spent two days in April gathering footage on campus and around South Bend for two separate comedic vehicles.

First-year coach Marcus Freeman again trades quips with the retired Super Bowl-champion quarterbacks, just as he did in the “Rockne House” episode of “Eli’s Places” that aired in mid-August.

Among the familiar Notre Dame faces with cameos in the Halloween Special: Irish quarterback Drew Pyne and wideout Braden Lenzy; retired football coach and ESPN analyst Lou Holtz; athletic director Jack Swarbrick; Rev. Pete McCormick, director of campus ministry; and Rev. Brian Ching, rector of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart.

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Bettis, the Pro Football Hall of Famer who delivered Notre Dame’s commencement address in May, walks out of a “final exam” in the Mendoza College of Business at the Mannings’ insistence.

“What can I say?” Bettis tells the class. “Bustin’ makes me feel good.”

l-r, Retired NFL greats Peyton Manning, Eli Manning and Jerome Bettis portray "Ghostbusters" during filming at Notre Dame on April 28, 2022

Pyne and Lenzy, who have struggled to connect this season on the field, work more smoothly as they open the show with some ironic pass-route talk during an early-morning campus stroll.

Later, encountering his two frazzled players in the Guglielmino football building, Freeman gets a chance to extol the benefits of film study and poise.

“Calm down,” Freeman tells them, delivering a line that carries broader meaning after upset losses at home to Marshall and Stanford.   

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The Mannings aren’t the only Peyton-and-Eli brother combo welcome at Notre Dame. Thursday night on ESPN2, Denton (Texas) Guyer High School rolled to victory behind five-star safety Peyton Bowen (a 2023 Irish commitment) and his brother, four-star cornerback Eli Bowen, a 2024 Irish recruiting target.

The Bowens are not mentioned in the Halloween special.

Follow Notre Dame football writer Mike Berardino on Twitter @MikeBerardino and TikTok @mikeberardinoNDI.