Born to Grill™ with the Mannings

If you've kept an eye on the news, you know we've been thrilled to welcome Football's First Family — none other than the Mannings — to the BBQGuys family. You're probably aware by now that Eli was Born to Grill™, but what role has grilling played in the lives of father Archie and brothers Peyton and Cooper? The Mannings were gracious enough to give us a few minutes of their time to explore the topic while on set of the latest BBQGuys commercial, the first to feature the whole family.

We dove into the Mannings' grilling history and what their childhood cookouts looked like, along with more lighthearted subjects such as their go-to orders at BBQ restaurants and favorite Mardi Gras grub when Carnival season brings them back to their hometown. In the process, we uncovered some fun facts like the Manning brothers' most cherished childhood meal, Peyton's surprising role at present-day Manning BBQs, and the identity of an unexpected grill master in the family. Read on to see why BBQ and the Mannings go together like football and Sunday afternoons.

Manning family scrapbook

Q & A with the Mannings

Do you remember what kind of grill your parents had when you were young?

Archie: I sure do. My dad ran a farm-machinery place, and he had the mechanics build a grill. It was just a big barrel, so it was just kind of a homemade thing, but it was big. It was kind of a ritual on Saturday, late Saturday afternoon — my dad would grill. We'd grill steak to have on Saturday night, and then he would grill chicken, and we had chicken after church on Sundays.

Cooper: I remember (Archie's) was black, and it was hot. But I do not remember the name of it. I didn't know how to work it until I was well past puberty.

What were those early family cookouts like?

Eli: I just remember we used to have some fun Sunday nights where we'd be playing baseball games all day, and we'd just come home and have Sunday night hot dogs with grilled buns and homemade milkshakes. That was my favorite meal growing up.

Cooper: Yeah, I remember Sunday nights at our house were BBQ nights. My mom (Olivia) actually was a little better behind the grill than dad. We had hot dogs, hamburgers, and milkshakes. That was the Sunday night routine — occasionally with tater tots, which are always dElicious.

Archie: The boys liked hamburgers, but we kind of followed along with what my dad did. Saturday nights, sometimes we'd cook steak. I didn't cook the chicken for Sunday, but the kids liked the grilled burgers.

Peyton: We had a lot of hamburgers, obviously. For 3 boys, hamburgers were pretty common. I feel like I remember my mom doing quite a bit of it, with my dad being the fourth boy eating hamburgers as well. My dad might refute that, my mom would also tell you that I'm telling the truth.

We know Eli found immediate success on the grill, but do the rest of you remember the first time you used a grill? How'd it go?

Peyton: The very first time? I can't really recall the very first time. I remember doing it a decent amount the year I was injured in Indianapolis when I had a little more time on my hands. I wasn't able to play that season, so I got into grilling to kind of occupy some time. I'm probably a fairly high handicapper as a griller, but I got some decent reviews from my teammates. They were younger players, so I think they had to lie to me and tell me that the food was good in order to stay on my good side. It's something I probably need to improve on, and I'm gonna work on it now that I'm part of this team.

Archie: When Olivia and I got married, we had an apartment, and we just had a small patio, so we had a little bitty grill for grilling some hamburgers.

Cooper: The first time I used a grill was when I bought my own grill. I was very excited and nervous, and the first time I took the helm, I undercooked everything and everybody starved. Huge disappointment.

Manning family pictures

Now that everyone's grown up, what's everyone's role when you get together to barbecue?

Archie: Everybody kind of chips in a little bit.

Eli: Well, when it's just me and my wife and our kids, I'm the griller. I'm the one on the grill, whether it's burgers or hot dogs, or a lot of grilled chicken, or we do steaks. When I come home to my parents' house, then it's my mom. She won't give up the grill! She likes that position. We try to get in, I try to offer (to help), and she won't do it. That's her role — we can't steal it from her.

Sounds like we need to get Olivia on camera soon! Switching gears: you're at a BBQ joint, and you can order a meat and 3 sides. What do you choose?

Archie: Oh, that's easy. I'm gonna get beans, slaw, potato salad, and ribs. Every time.

Eli: At a BBQ joint, I'll definitely get some pulled pork, baked beans… another portion of baked beans, and some green beans. And I assume the cornbread is already coming with that.

Cooper: Brisket, potato salad, coleslaw, cornbread, baked beans, and… banana cream pie as dessert? DElicioso! [chef's kiss]

Peyton: I like ribs. Growing up here in New Orleans and going to school at (the University of) Tennessee, you better learn to like ribs. I'm kind of a dry ribs guy. On the side, maybe some brisket, chicken, and maybe some more ribs? How about that? (More meat) is a good side item.

The Mannings at the dinner table outside

With Archie playing the majority of his career for the Saints, you guys were born in New Orleans and spent a lot of time there. What's your favorite NOLA food during Mardi Gras season?

Cooper: For Mardi Gras, I like crawfish and Popeyes chicken. I guess you can put them on a grill, but they won't taste very good.

Peyton: Living in Denver now, I miss the seafood. Every time I come back to New Orleans during Mardi Gras, I usually get to a crawfish boil, and that takes me back to growing up here in New Orleans. When I think about Mardi Gras, I think about crawfish at the same time.

This last one's for Eli: what does it mean for you to be Born to Grill™?

Eli: It's just a lifestyle. I didn't choose this; it chose me. The grill came, I saw it, and it just made sense. I knew where the knobs were, I knew how to light it, I knew how long the chicken and steaks should stay on. There's no timer — it's just a feel thing. For some people, it just comes naturally, and for some people it doesn't.