Caitlin Clark delivered yet again.
The Iowa Hawkeyes basketball star on Monday became the first college athlete to appear on the ManningCast – and with style.
After bantering with the Peyton and Eli Manning during her guest appearance for the “Monday Night Football” telecast, she successfully predicted a touchdown pass by her beloved Kansas City Chiefs.
Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes connected with Travis Kelce near the end of the first half on a touchdown to give the Chiefs a 14-7 lead over the Philadelphia Eagles and give Clark a permanent spot on the Mannings’ prediction board. The board is reserved for guests who accurately predict what a team will do inside the red zone.
Clark’s appearance, which came during the second quarter, actually ended before the touchdown occurred.
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“We’ll put you on the board if Kelce scores, I promise,’’ Peyton Manning said headed into a commercial break at the two-minute warning and the Chiefs facing first-and-10 at the Eagles’ 11-yard-line.
Three plays later, Mahomes connected with Kelce for a 4-yard touchdown pass and ManningCast cameras in Iowa City caught Clark grinning in celebration..
The Manning brothers saluted her for predicting not only the touchdown but the play call, with Kelce spinning away from a defender.
“PUT ME ON THE PERFECT PREDICTION BOARD!!!!!!” Clark tweeted out later.
Eli Manning did the honors, affixing a cutout of Clark’s head to the esteemed prediction board.
The similarities between Chiefs and Hawkeyes
Credit Peyton Manning for the timely assist.
Clark, the uber-talented point guard, joined the ManningCast in time to watch Mahomes and Kelce connect on their first reception of the night. Peyton then asked Clark for her thoughts on the Mahomes-Kelce combo.
“Oh, man. They’re one of the best duos,’’ Clark said. “It’s kind of similar to how we run the offense at Iowa. Good point guard, good post player. Good quarterback, great tight end. And they’re fun to watch. They make football exciting.’’
Ditto for the Iowa Hawkeyes when Caitlin Clark is on the floor.
The basketball star knows football
Clark, who led the Hawkeyes to the national title game last season, clearly appreciates her football. Yes, she made the touchdown prediction. But something equally impressive came later in her guest appearance.
When the Manning brothers were expecting her to comment on recent footage of their playing one-on-one basketball, Clark kept at least one eye on the action.
“Another sack there by Chris Jones,’’ she said of the Chiefs’ defensive tackle. “He’s my guy.’’
Peyton chuckled, noting Clark had more to say about the sack than she had to say about the Mannings’ basketball footage.
“I’m not a bandwagon Chiefs fan,’’ Clark said later. “I was a Chiefs fan even when they weren’t very good.’’
So how did Caitlin Clark become a Chiefs fan?
Peyton laid out the facts.
Caitlin Clark, born in Iowa. Attended high school in Iowa. Attends college in Iowa. And, hmmm, how is it she now cheers for the Chiefs?
“I’ve been a Chiefs fan since I was a young girl,’’ she said. “My brother was a Chiefs fan, my dad was a Chiefs fan, I had cousins in Kansas City who were Chiefs fans.
“So, there was an embarrassing picture of me in all Chiefs gear floating around earlier today.’’
Moments later, that photo floated onto the ManningCast screen. There was little Caitlin Clark, decked out in Chiefs gear alongside three young boys wearing Chiefs gear.
“Oh, no. Come on,’’ Clark said sheepishly at the sight of the photo.
Caitlin Clark’s appearance was not perfect
Yes, she predicted the Mahomes-to-Kelce touchdown pass near the end of the first half. But earlier in her appearance, she made an identical prediction – only to watch a potential touchdown pass intended for Chiefs receiver Justin Watson, not Kelce, get intercepted in the end zone.
But even the Chiefs eventually losing to the Eagles 21-17 could not erase history. In becoming the first college athlete to join the ManningCast, the woman who won the John Wooden Award as the most outstanding player in women’s basketball last season and who was sculpted in butter at the Iowa State Fair, added to her accolades.
Which is to say Caitlin Clark’s face earned its place on ManningCast Prediction Board.