Father’s Day comes and goes, but Archie Manning remains America’s preeminent sports dad
Archie Manning, 69, is certainly accomplished in his own right, but it’s impossible to ignore the achievements of his three sons — businessman and TV personality Cooper, 44, and Super Bowl-winning NFL quarterbacks Peyton, 42, and Eli, 37. We chased down the scrambling Ole Miss icon and New Orleans legend to talk football and family.
Influence on Peyton and Eli as QBs… I was laid back. If they ever came to me and said, "You want to go play catch?" I went and played catch. They’d get their receivers together and say, "Dad, do you want to go with us?" And I'd go. But they had to ask. We used to go to (Isidore) Newman, where they went to school, on Sunday afternoon and climb the fence. I got too old to climb the fence. I had to get a key.
NFL Draft Day, 1971… I went to the (Ole Miss) athletic office at 9 o'clock. The Patriots took Jim Plunkett with the first pick. About 9:15, I get a call from the Saints. I talked to the owner, general manager and head coach. I hung up and an AP writer took my picture. I left and went to a 10 o'clock class. That was my draft day. That was it.
If he played today… I was watching a game with Eli and we were watching Johnny Manziel play for Texas A&M on TV. Out of the blue, I said, "Eli, when I was in college, if I could have played in this type of offense, I would have been a beast."
Coach Peyton? Peyton would be a good coach, but I don't think it's anything he'll do.
How much longer will Eli play? I see Eli throw in-person every year at the Manning Passing Camp. Eli threw the ball with more velocity at 36 than he did when he was 26. Eli can play as long as he doesn't have injuries or as long as his team is good. Losing teams don't keep old quarterbacks. They need to put a good product on the field for him to maintain and hold his job.
Cooper the TV personality… ESPN and Fox wanted to know if he would be interested in doing some comedy. He's always liked comedy. When he got out of Ole Miss, he said, "Dad, I want to go out to Los Angeles and get into some comedy stuff." I said, "You've lost your mind, you know that?" He's a good emcee. He narrates. He’s funny.
Manning’s restaurant in New Orleans… When we opened, we decided we're not going to be a sports bar; we're going to be a sports-themed restaurant. This is New Orleans, you've got to have good food. After about a year and a half, we called and said, “All right, what's everybody ordering?” Well, they're ordering cheeseburgers and French fries and nachos and chicken wings. I said, “We are a sports bar.”