NEW ORLEANS, Feb. 16, 2031 • With seven touchdown passes, young quarterback Arch Manning led the Saints Sunday to a dazzling 49-48 victory over the Chiefs and old quarterback Patrick Mahomes in Super Bowl LXV at the venerable Superdome.
In 2005 Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, and the First Family of Quarterbacks’ Garden District home — appropriately on First Street and fronted by a Champion fence — had to be abandoned temporarily because of six-foot high water damage.
PatriArchie Manning and Matriarch Olivia carried most of the family valuables to the farm in Mississippi, but were forced to leave stacks of jerseys signed by sons Peyton and Eli for charity events.
When Archie eventually returned, “I knew someone had looted the house. They took all of Peyton’s jerseys and left all of Eli’s.’’
Two years later, Peyton would win the Super Bowl Most Valuable Player award with the Colts. The next year, though, and again in 2012, Eli was named Super Bowl MVP with the Giants. The kid outdid big brother, although Peyton would finish his career with a triumph in Super Bowl 50 with the Broncos. The Manning Brothers, both retired from the NFL now, tied with two rings each.
Unfortunately, the elder Manning, Archie, and the oldest Manning brother, Cooper, never got the chance to win a Super Bowl.
Archie spent the majority of his career with a terrible team in New Orleans — the “Aints’ — and finished up with the Oilers and the Vikings, never appearing in the postseason.
Cooper, who may have been the best athlete of the four, was the quarterback at Isidore High School in New Orleans until younger brother Peyton joined the team. Cooper volunteered to switch to wide receiver — and earned a scholarship from Ole Miss. But, before he could even practice, Cooper was diagnosed with spinal stenosis and was ordered to give up the game.
I’ve had the honor of covering Archie, Peyton and Eli, and getting to know Cooper over the past 50 years. In the South, I witnessed and wrote about Archie’s games at Mississippi and reported regularly on him in New Orleans. He once told me about looking into the stands and, to his chagrin, seeing Cooper and Peyton wearing Aints bags over their heads.
I interviewed a young Peyton at Tennessee (our alma mater), wrote about his Volunteers games and was in the press box for all four of his Super Bowls, including his historic final game for the Broncos. I worked in New York (for ESPN) and often covered Giants home games — and both of Eli’s astounding Super Bowl victories over the greatest dynasty in NFL history.
When the Broncos beat the Patriots to advance to Super Bowl 50, Archie, Cooper and Eli celebrated in the locker room with Peyton. It was a memorable moment for the family and a bystander columnist.
The three playing Mannings were in the league a cumulative 47 seasons and recorded a combined 1,030 touchdowns and 152,874 passing yards. The non-playing Manning has become successful in oil and gas investments and broadcasting, and lives next door to the “fifth Beatle’’ — Drew Brees.
Eli retired the other day, saying tearfully “once a Giant, only a Giant,” after earning the most money ever in the NFL — $252.2 million, just ahead of brother Peyton’s $248.7 million.
In 1981, Archie possessed the league’s highest contract — for $600,000. He made about $10 million overall.
So, the Manning Era, which disrupted the Tom Brady train five times in 10 seasons, must be over, huh?
They are the G.O.A.T. Bros., both bound for the Pro Football Hall of Fame (despite some Eli detractors).
The entire family should be recognized at the Super Bowl at the Superdome in February 2024.
However comma ...
Another Manning is on the way.
Arch Manning, Cooper’s son, is a freshman at Isidore Newman and the fourth from the family to start at quarterback for the school.
He completed his first season with a 9-2 record, 2,402 passing yards and 40 touchdowns (34 passing).
Archie, at 70, says Arch, at 14, is ahead of Peyton and Eli at that age. Will he win Super Bowl No. 65 at 25?
And 9-year-old Marshall Manning, Peyton’s son, throws (accurately) occasionally at Broncos’ practices.
The First Family of Quarterbacks and its influence on football may live on forever.