Archie Manning has raised two of the most successful quarterbacks in the NFL, he’s doing something right.
The story of Archie Manning can read like somewhat of a fairytale. Standout Ole Miss Quarterback marries his college sweetheart Olivia and goes on to a lengthy career in the NFL. Archie and Olivia have three children – two of whom have gone on to become Super Bowl winning quarterbacks in the NFL. From afar, it would appear as if Archie has lived some kind of charmed life where everything broke just right for him and that good fortune has transferred over to his family. Dig a little deeper and you’ll see that the seemingly charmed lives are the result of the values instilled within them, starting with the patriarch of the Manning clan.
Archie Manning was born and raised in Drew, Mississippi and excelled in many sports as a youth. In fact, he was such a highly-regarded baseball prospect he was actually drafted four times in the MLB draft. Baseball talent aside, Football was his passion and he was pretty good at that as well. Archie would go on to attend Ole Miss and was the starting QB for 3 years, earning All-SEC honors twice and SEC Player of the Year in 1969. Fortune shined brightly off the field as well as Archie would meet Olivia while both were attending Ole Miss.
Tragedy struck the Manning family in the summer of 1969. While Archie was home on summer break, his father Buddy committed suicide. Archie was the first to discover the body. An incredibly scarring and transformative time for him, he considered quitting school to provide for his mother and sister but ultimately returned to school at the urging of his mother. Losing a parent at any age has a tremendous impact but losing one while you are still turning into an adult can be jarring. Well-laid plans can fall into disarray and lives can fall into a downward spiral that only some will be strong enough to recover from. Archie summoned the strength to persevere and completed a stellar college career at Ole Miss.
The 1971 NFL Draft would see the New Orleans Saints select Archie Manning with the 2nd overall pick. Archie played ten years for the Saints as one of the few marquee players on several dreadful teams. He had a solid but unspectacular NFL career due to the lack of talent surrounding him, finishing his career out with a stopover with the Houston Oilers before closing the books as a Minnesota Viking. During his tenure in the NFL, the Manning family would grow by three with the addition of Cooper in 1974, Peyton in 1976 and Eli in 1981.
Throughout his college and pro career, Archie was a humble and unassuming man with a great work ethic, values that Olivia and he were able to instill in their boys as well. Like their father, all of the boys were blessed with Archie’s athletic prowess and developed a passion for the game. Cooper was well on his way to entering college to play ball when it was discovered he suffered from spinal stenosis, cutting short a promising career. The way Cooper dealt with his unfortunate consequences was a beacon of light for the whole family and source of inspiration for his younger brothers to this day. Peyton and Eli had successful college careers at Tennessee and Ole Miss respectively before entering the NFL. Both have had tremendous NFL success; little brother currently leads older brother, Peyton, 2-1 in the Super Bowl rings department.
Archie and Olivia took great pride and care in the raising of their children. The results are apparent, not only in the success of the Manning boys but also in the way they carry themselves. Cooper remains a source of inspiration while Peyton and Eli carry themselves with tremendous humility in a league known for its bravado. During Eli’s 1st Super Bowl victory, one of the everlasting images of the evening was the shots of Peyton as he cheered his little brother’s every move. You could see the pure joy and pride coming through him with every glimpse the camera provided.
ESPN released a fascinating documentary on the Manning family in 2013. SEC Storied: The Book of Manning told the story of the Manning family like it has never been told before. Fascinating clips and interviews provided a glimpse into the bedrock of values that defines the Manning family. As part of the release of the documentary, ESPN conducted a conference media call with Archie and others associated with the film. Courtesy of the transcript from ESPN Media Zone, here are some of Archie’s thoughts on parenting and the things he tried to instill in his boys:
On advice to young quarterbacks and his boys in particular:
“I think the first thing that my sons will tell you, that I never tried to be their coach. And I didn’t — I didn’t give them as much advice as some people might think, being a former player myself and a former quarterback. If they asked, I gave them my opinion.”
On parenting and teaching:
“I just think in parenting, you won’t — I think you want to teach your children to make good decisions. One thing that I think came across in the boys recruiting, if they are old enough and mature enough to make their own decisions, they have got to make their own decisions, that have their priorities in order in order to make good decisions.”
On setting kids up for success:
“I really don’t think that’s a goal that parents should have for their children, whatever sport it is, necessarily to be a professional. Now, I love the fact that sports are available to young people. I think in our society today, kids need projects. They need things to do. They need things that occupy their time. So I think sports is a good one. There’s so many values there and it does take their time. But I think as parents, we don’t need to be the ones that push that. They have to like it and enjoy it and want to do it. And parents, we are just there to support.”
Some advice for parents:
“So, you know, my advice is for parents, is to support your children, make sure they are having fun doing — if it’s whatever their project, extracurricular activity is, and just be there with them, be there and support them and be there for them and give them encouragement and make it a life lesson thing that they are along the way learning to make good things decisions and do the right thing.”
Powerful lessons from a humble and unassuming man, lessons we all can learn from. Archie and Olivia have provided an outstanding template and example for parents to build upon as they raise their own families.