Archie Manning (born May 19, 1949) is a former quarterback who played in the National Football League. He played for the New Orleans Saints from 1971 to 1982, then for the Houston Oilers and Minnesota Vikings. Manning is the father of Cooper Manning, current Denver Broncos starting quarterback Peyton Manning, and current New York Giants starting quarterback Eli Manning. Born in Drew, Mississippi, Manning was the son of Jane Elizabeth and Elisha Archibald Manning, Jr. He grew up heavily involved in football, basketball, baseball, and track. His father, known as “Buddy,” was interested in Archie’s sports activities, but the nature of his job left him little if any time for attending games and shooting ducks. Instead, Archie (III) drew his inspiration from a local high school sports star, James Hobson. His mother was “a ubiquitous presence at all of his games, no matter what the sport or level.” Manning attended Drew High School. Archie was selected in the Major League Baseball draft four times, first in 1967 by the Braves, twice by the White Sox, and finally by the Royals in 1971. In the summer of 1969 his father, Buddy Manning, committed suicide and Archie, who was home from college for summer vacation, was the first to discover Buddy’s dead body. In the biopic-documentary Book of Manning, Manning said that he considered dropping out and getting a job to support his mother and sister but his mother persuaded him to return to college and not put his rising football career to waste.
Manning attended the University of Mississippi in Oxford and was the starting quarterback at Ole Miss for three years. In the first national prime time broadcast of a college football game (1969), Manning threw for 436 yards and three touchdowns, also rushing for 104 yards, in a 33–32 loss to Alabama. However, the rest of the team was not at his level and despite Manning’s considerable talent the Rebels had a record of only 15–7 in his last two years. In his college career, he threw for 4,753 yards and 31 touchdowns (despite 40 interceptions) and ran for 823 yards. He scored 14 touchdowns in 1969. In both 1969 and 1970, he was named to the All-SEC team and his No. 18 jersey was retired by Ole Miss. In 1969, Manning was Mississippi Sportsman of the Year and recipient of the Nashville Banner Trophy as Most Valuable Player in the Southeastern Conference in addition to winning the Walter Camp Memorial Trophy. He was fourth in the Heisman Trophy voting in 1969 and third in 1970. Manning was inducted to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1989. Manning’s legacy is honored to this day on the campus of Ole Miss where the speed limit is eighteen miles per hour in honor of Manning’s jersey number. During his time at Ole Miss, Manning was a brother of Sigma Nu fraternity. He was named Southeastern Conference Quarterback of the Quarter Century (1950–75) by several publications.
Manning was the second overall pick in the 1971 NFL Draft and played for the Saints for ten full seasons. He was usually one of the few marquee players on a dreadful team. During his tenure in New Orleans, the Saints had nine losing seasons. They only managed to get to .500 once, in 1979, which was also the only season they finished higher than third in their division. Nevertheless, he was well respected by NFL peers. For example, he was sacked 340 times during his Saints career. According to Sports Illustrated senior writer Paul Zimmerman, it should have been much more than that. However, Zimmerman wrote, opposing defensive linemen, “Jack Youngblood in particular,” were known to take it easy on the poorly protected Manning and not hit him as hard. For his part Manning seemed to appreciate Youngblood’s kindness, telling the Los Angeles Times, on September 23, 1974, “The Rams front four is the best I ever faced . . . I’ve got to say that Youngblood was nice enough to pick me up every time he knocked my (butt) off.” Today, Manning jokes that Youngblood’s career would not have been as successful without him. He even suggested that Youngblood should have let him be his presenter when he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2001, saying, “He wouldn’t have gotten in without having me to sack.”
In 1972 he led the league in pass attempts and completions and led the National Football Conference in passing yards, though the team’s record was only 2–11–1. Archie sat out the entire 1976 season after corrective surgery on his right shoulder. In 1978, he was named the NFC Player of the Year by UPI after leading the Saints to a 7–9 record. That same year, Archie was also named All-NFC by both the UPI and The Sporting News. Manning was selected to the Pro Bowl in 1978 and 1979. He went on to conclude his career with the Houston Oilers (1982–1983), and the Minnesota Vikings (1983–1984). He ended his 13-year career having completed 2,011 of 3,642 passes for 23,911 yards and 125 touchdowns, with 173 interceptions. He also rushed for 2,197 yards and 18 touchdowns. His 2,011 completions ranked 17th in NFL history upon his retirement. His record as a starter was 35–101–3 (26.3%), the worst in NFL history among QBs with at least 100 starts. He retired having never played on a team that notched a winning record or made the playoffs, and is one of the few players to have played in the NFL for 10 years without having taken part in a playoff game. The Saints have not reissued Manning’s #8 since he left the team midway through the 1982 season. Although it has not been formally retired, it is understood that no Saint will ever wear it again.
Manning continues to make his home in New Orleans, though he also owns a condo in Oxford, Mississippi, to where he relocated following Hurricane Katrina, and he is involved as an analyst with the Saints’ radio and preseason television broadcasts. He can be seen as a commentator for CBS Sports’ college football broadcasts and has appeared as a commercial spokesman for products in Southeast Louisiana, where he remains popular with many fans. Working with his three sons, Cooper, Peyton, and Eli, Archie hosts the Manning Passing Academy each summer. This camp brings together young players from grades 8–12 who work with high school coaches and college players. In 2007, Manning was awarded the Silver Buffalo Award by the Boy Scouts of America. The Silver Buffalo is the highest award given for service to Youth on a national basis. In the 1992 novel The Pelican Brief, author John Grisham (who hails from Manning’s college home of Oxford, Mississippi) named one of the book’s minor characters (a U.S. Supreme Court Justice) Archibald Manning, in honor of Archie Manning. In 2007, Manning was hired as spokesman for a United Parcel Service contest to promote its “Delivery Intercept” service. He appeared in an advertising campaign for the UPS Delivery Intercept Challenge Video Contest, which solicited amateur videos of football interceptions from high school and youth games. Among the prizes were a tailgate party with Manning as well as Manning-autographed footballs. In October 2013, Manning was selected to be one of the 13 inaugural members of The College Football Playoff, Playoff, Postseason, Selection Committee. He is one of three appointees who are members of the College Football Hall of Fame. In 2014, due to health reasons, he stepped down from College Football Playoff Committee. He currently owns a football-themed restaurant he named Manning’s.
Olivia Williams Manning, Archie’s wife, is from Philadelphia, Mississippi, and attended Ole Miss, where they met. She was a member of Delta Gamma and was Homecoming Queen her senior year. After marriage and moving to New Orleans, Archie and Olivia had three sons and she became, and remains, active in charity and volunteer work in the community. This community work includes being a member of Women of the Storm, a group of New Orleans women created after Hurricane Katrina. The Mannings make their home in the Garden District of New Orleans, which escaped heavy damage from Hurricane Katrina. Olivia is seen along with Archie and sons Cooper, Peyton, and Eli, in an NFL commercial.