Friday, February 05, 2010

A Tip of the Hat to Archie Manning

For the first time in nineteen years, I'm genuinely interested in the outcome of the upcoming Super Bowl. If memory serves, the last time I watched a Super Bowl from beginning to end was in 1991. I was with my dad. Dad died later that year, in August.

I'd always found individual sports more compelling anyway. Track and field, tennis, ping pong, boxing, whatever. But watching games with Dad was always fun, and I always looked forward to them, whether as a kid, or later, as an alleged adult.

I grew up in southern California, but my favorite football team during my high school years and into my twenties? The New Orleans Saints. I'd evidently inherited my dad's trait of rooting for the underdog, and boy, were the Saints ever the perennial underdog.

The Saints were founded in 1967, and it would be twenty years before they had a winning season.

And then there was Archie Manning. Archie was an outstanding quarterback, but he just didn't have much of a team around him, and that was most evident with the Saints porous offensive line. Archie didn't have it much better in college, at Ole Miss. In 1969, he set an SEC record for total offense: 436 yards passing, 104 yard rushing. Archie's effort is still tied for the record today, and guess what? Ole Miss lost that game to Alabama.

Archie played for the Saints for ten seasons. Losing seasons. L.A. Rams defensive lineman Jack Youngblood felt bad for Archie, because Archie's offensive line left so often left him a sitting duck for players of Youngblood's caliber. Archie said, "I've got to say that Youngblood was nice enough to pick me up every time he knocked my butt off."

So now, for the first time in forty-two years, the New Orleans Saints are going to the Super Bowl. Archie's son Peyton will lead the Indianapolis Colts against the Saints. Something tells me that Archie will be pulling for Peyton. But if the Saints win, I suspect Archie will spare a smile or two.

I'll be traveling on Super Bowl Sunday. I'm not sure I'll catch the game. But I'll be thinking about Archie, and thinking about my dad.

7 comments:

Kelly said...

I'm not much of a football fan, but this matchup does interest me. Living just north of the border (the Louisiana border, that is) it's all anyone has talked about the past week!

I'll be pulling for the Saints.

Bob said...

Great post, Hal. I have lots of memories of watching football with my dad, too. I still laugh when I watch a team get ready to punt because Dad always, without fail, said, "Watch the fake!" when this occurred. Every 500 or so times when there actually was a fake, of course, he said, "Told ya."

I'm a slow study. It had not occurred to me Peyton would be playing vs. his dad's old team. Archie can't lose this one.

Pam said...

My son, grandsons, daughter and I will be yelling GEAUX SAINTS on Sunday!! :)

quid said...

I never miss the bowl. I do miss watching with my dad, and I'm for the Saints taking it all (my pre-season $50 bet is on the line).

Question for you... when Archie came in 3rd in the Heisman balloting in 1970, should he have lost to Jim Plunkett (Quido says yes) and come in second to Joe Theisman (Quido thinks Theisman is much larger than his football skill (or finesse as a commentator) deserves. You decide, Hal.

quid

Bob Barbanes said...

I hate to admit this, but I was never really a football fan until I moved (for a short time) to Louisiana. Growing up in NYC we had all kinds of sports...two football teams! But Louisiana has only the Saints. It was impressive to me to see the intense passion and support these Cajuns and Coonasses have for their home team - even when they lose! The excitement and emotional investment is intriguing and, I have to say, it's turned me into a Saints fan as well.

Hal, I agree with you and Bob: Archie can't lose. I'll bet he's thrilled just to be part of it all. I know I would be.

Nice post, btw. I like how you snuck that part in about your dad. You always do try to include your family in your writing. I like that.

Scotty said...

We don't get much Superbowl coverage over here, Hal, but what we do get is always fun to watch.

I think I'll take the Colts by 9 points.

:-)

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