From Father to Sons – The Manning Clan IS the Definition of Football!
The legacy began with Elisha Archibald Manning, III. Yes, that’s a mouthful, but to his legion of fans he was simply known as, Archie.
It all started in Ole’ Miss, when this American football quarterback, who played for the Saints from 1971 to 1982 before heading on to other pastures, was discovered. Manning was born in Mississippi, so it was no surprise that he grew up deeply embedded in the world of sports. His true inspiration was a local high school sports star by the name of James Hobson. Tragedy struck at the age of nineteen when Archie lost his father to suicide, but his mother was the all-supportive woman who was a fixture at all of Archie’s games, no matter the weather, venue, sport, or day.
Attending the University of Mississippi, Archie was their starting quarterback for three years, and he hit the media by storm. In the very first broadcast of a college game in 1969, Manning was the absolute hero, as he threw for 436 yards and three touchdowns – not only in front of Ole’ Miss fans – but in front of the whole, wide world. He didn’t just throw the ball, he also rushed for over one hundred yards in a heartbreaking 33-32 loss to Alabama. But Archie could certainly not be upset, considering that his performance was a total of 540 yards, still tied for the SEC record for most total yards by any individual in a game.
Manning, regrettably for Ole’ Miss, was well beyond the rest of his team members when it came to talent and skill, which gave the Rebels a record of only 15-7 in his last two years with them. But with all the touchdowns, all the yards, all the everything – it seemed that Manning was a one-man football team, which led to his #18 jersey to be retired by Ole’ Miss, his induction into the All-SEC team, Mississippi Sportsman of the Year, and recipient of the ‘Nashville Banner’ Trophy as Most Valuable Player in the Southeastern Conference.
Fourth in line for the Heisman Trophy in 1969, and third in 1970, Manning went on to be inducted to the College Football Hall of Fame for his prowess on the campus of Ole’ Miss. Fun fact? The speed limit on campus is eighteen miles-per-hour in honor of Manning’s jersey number. There are so many, like Bear Bryant, who said and still maintain that Manning was the best college quarterback that has ever played the game.
His NFL career began with the Saints, selected second overall in the 1971 draft. Staying with New Orleans for ten seasons, Manning yet again saw that he was the ‘one-man team.’ His defense and offense was not good by any means. In fact, a great deal of announcers commented on the fact that other defenses were actually ‘nice’ to Manning when they sacked him, knowing that he had absolutely no protection when he played.
In 1972 he led the league in pass attempts and completions, as well as passing yards, even though the Saint’s record was a dismal 2–11–1. The man had strength and could certainly take a hit, seeing as that he had to a great many times because his team was ‘out to lunch,’ and in 1978, Archie was named the NFC Player Of The Year (UPI) after leading the Saints to a 7–9 record. Selected to the Pro Bowl in 1978 and 1979, Manning went on to other teams before his career came to an end. Archie Manning has been honored by inclusion in books, as well as being a spokesperson for many companies and products. In the end, his NFL career was a combination of brute strength and a straight spine, dealing with the fact that he would always be the bright, shiny diamond surrounded by lumps of coal.
There were more than a few gifts that Archie gave to the gridiron, however, and some of those gifts included his DNA. Being the father of Peyton and Eli Manning, two men who have been completely successful in the world of football, Archie passed on that strength, loyalty and determination to these young men who became the ‘core’ of their teams.
Peyton’s home is with the Indianapolis Colts. This is a man who holds the record for most NFL MVP awards, after having a huge football career in college that rivaled his father’s. But that’s not the only record he holds by any means. Peyton also can claim records for most consecutive seasons with 4,000 or more yards passing, and the most total seasons with 4,000 or more yards passing in a career. He has the sixth highest career passer rating with a truly unbelievable 94.9% and, not-surprisingly, is the all-time Colts franchise leader in career wins, passing yards, pass attempts, pass completions, and passing touchdowns.
Announced by the Sporting News as the #1 player in the NFL in 2009, Peyton was also named ‘player of the decade’ by Fox Sports. The list of accolades goes on and on, as if Peyton took the super human strength of his father and, thankfully, combined it with a team who knew how to catch his passes and stand in front of him so that he would have time to throw them. Super Bowl XLI was the first Lombardi Trophy that Manning brought home to Indianapolis, and he has also introduced a way of playing that generally includes no huddles whatsoever, preferring to play a hurry-up offense as Manning thinks on his feet and changes the plays a great deal at the line of scrimmage. This not only takes talent, skill and brute strength – it also takes a quick eye and a super-quick mind.
But that magical football DNA doesn’t end there. Eli Manning is another quarterback who makes the New York Giants beyond proud. He is the younger sibling of Peyton, and played on his father’s beloved home turf at Ole’ Miss.
It was in 2008 that Eli Manning won the Most Valuable Player when he led the Giants to victory over the undefeated Patriots (who were a shoe-in to win Super Bow XLII.) And that day…that game…will live on as one of the most thrilling ever played in the history of the Super Bowl.
It’s actually quite hysterical when you think about it. Eli Manning was a player who, in 2007, was being ‘bashed’ more than a little during Giants training camp, with one reporter questioning whether or not the Giants could even ‘win with this guy.’ These same reporters could only sit back and eat their words when the Giants beat the Green Bay Packers in overtime to secure their trip to Super Bowl XLII.
This was the first Super Bowl appearance for the New York Giants in eight seasons, and they were up against a team that could NOT be beaten. The Patriots already ‘had the Lombardi Trophy in hand when they walked onto the field,’ at least that’s what everyone said. But as the Giants trailed 14-10 with only 2:42 remaining in the game, Eli Manning led his team on an eighty-three-yard drive. It was on a third-and-five at the Giants’ forty-four yard line that Manning connected with David Tyree, who caught the ball off his own helmet to covert the third down. Four plays later, Plaxico Burress caught a thirteen-yard touchdown pass with only thirty-five seconds remaining. This was the day that Eli Manning would remember for the rest of his life, joining with the amazing Joe Montana as being the ‘best of the best’ in Super Bowl history. The broadcast achieved the highest Nielsen ratings since Super Bowl XXXIV, and it was also the second most watched TV program of all time.
Perhaps the Ole’ Miss turf has some secret paranormal gift that it gives to their favorite quarterbacks, but I tend to think that the Manning ‘magic’ comes from the sheer will and strength that the father passed down to the sons.
Until Next Time, Everybody.