(Peyton and Eli quickly unload the canned goods, knowing the box with the satellite dish must be at the bottom of the pile)

“You will hear the reigning NFL MVP tell you why the New England Patriots are the furthest thing from his mind,” gushed Mike Greenberg on ESPN’s “NFL Live”, moments before introducing Colts QB Peyton Manning. And indeed, Manning’s failures to get past the Patriots are hardly notable compared to the work he and younger brother Eli have done this past week on behalf of the Hurricane Katrina relief effort.

Sadly, the segment couldn’t have ended there. “Tell me how a football nut like myself could watch 8 NFL games at the same time?” asked a straight faced Greenberg, inviting Manning to extoil the virtues of DirectTV’s new Sunday Ticket “Superfan” package. Which he did. At length. So much so, that I’m wondering how anyone managed to watch football on TV (never mind fashion a career in the NFL) without it.

Still, there are other ways to watch 8 games at the same time. You could visit your local Hooter’s. Steal 8 TV sets. Car-jack Mike Greenberg and use his credentials to gain access to ESPN’s Bristol headquarters. None of ’em are particularly adviseable or dignified ways of getting your football fix, but neither is DirectTV using a tragedy of this magnitude to sell subscriptions.

Unlike my colleague in conscience-flaunting Phil Mushnick, I don’t believe that ESPN is the source of all evil — they don’t come off so poorly when compared to Mushnick’s parent company, for instance. But the next time the decision is reached to turn “NFL Live” into an infomercial, at the very least, a disclaimer would be in order.