Eli Manning and Rob Gronkowski meet on the pickleball court in order to settle once and for all who is the better pickleball player.
After Rob Gronkowski called out Eli Manning on the Today Show, saying he could “whoop Eli” in pickleball, the former New York Giants star quarterback Manning accepted the challenge.
Gronk is playing pickleball after recently retiring — and says he’d even “whoop” Eli Manning on the pickball court! pic.twitter.com/rWxAEhQOBY— TODAY (@TODAYshow) December 4, 2022
On today’s Eli’s Extras episode of The Eli Manning Show, Gronkowski and Manning went head-to-head in a 1-game, winner takes all, singles match of pickleball.
Having played exhibition matches at the PPA Tour and faced off against pro pickleball star Ben Johns, Gronkowski is no stranger to the game of pickleball.
Gronkowski is one of many NFL superstars who have taken a deep interest in America’s fastest growing sport. He even recently invested in a new pickleball facility called Crush Yard in South Carolina, which will feature 8 indoor courts, a beer bar, and dining service.
The match took place at Centercourt Chatham, a state of the art pickleball facility located in Chatham, New Jersey. Eli and Gronk took over one of Centercourt’s 8 dedicated indoor pickleball courts and put on an absolute show.
There was plenty of trash-talking between the two leading into the match. After Manning took a strong 6-3 lead, the two decided to make things a little bit more interesting with a gentleman’s bet: The loser would have to perform a dance for the winner.
This new wager lit a fire under Gronk, who then turned up and managed to tie the game up at 9-9. At match point, 10-9, Gronk was able to secure victory after Eli lobbed the ball high into the air, allowing Gronk to perform a killer smash hit.
As though he had just caught a touchdown pass from Tom Brady, Gronkowski spiked his pickleball paddle to celebrate his victory and proudly announced, “I finally beat Eli Manning.” After shaking hands with Manning, Gronk then called out NFL players Drew Brees and Travis Kelce, claiming that the Gronkowski Manning duo could easily “whoop ‘em.”
A doubles match against Brees and Kelce isn’t that crazy of an idea. Kelce has been seen hitting the pickleball court with teammate Patrick Mahomes, who recently invested in a Major League Pickleball franchise. Drew Brees is also an avid pickleball player and MLP team owner, and is seriously committed to his Los Angeles Mad Drops team.
Another NFL legend and firm believer in pickleball, Larry Fitzgerald, also wants in on the action. Fitzgerald is a co-owner of the AZ Drive, an MLP Challenger Level team, and after seeing the match between Gronk and Eli, Fitzgerald extended an invite for Eli to join the AZ Drive for a match.
Gronkowski and Manning went on to shop about their current NFL broadcasting work. Gronk now spends his time in the studio with Fox during NFL game days as an analyst, while Eli joins his brother Payton Manning for their program Manningcast, where they announce live games for Monday Night Football on ESPN.
At the end of the match, Manning made good on his wager and performed a variety of dances for Gronk. The world truly wasn’t prepared to watch Eli Manning hit the griddy on a pickleball court, but we are so glad that he did.
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