Tuesday evening the timer on my phone went off and my hubby and I took our places in front of the TV to watch “The Book of Manning”.
The timer was set because the Manning family seems like distant kin. Archie Manning is a Mississippi legend. I was born in that state, and I have a husband who played at Tennessee when Archie was at Ole Miss (yep, “Archie Who”) so I didn’t want to miss the ESPN documentary.
I have loved the SEC since the love of my life signed to play at The University of Tennessee in 1966 when he was a high school senior, and as we watched the footage of that notable football game from the fall of 1969, it seemed like yesterday.
Tennessee’s team was 7-0 going into that game, but Ole Miss got fired up by a comment made by Steve Kiner and Archie showed out; leading his team to a big win.At that time, Steve Kiner was an All-American linebacker who went on to play in the NFL. He can claim many outstanding accomplishments, but he is often remembered for his comments to the press before this particular game.
By that time Archie Manning had made such a name for himself that the reporter felt no last name was needed when he asked Steve what he thought about Archie. Steve needed a last name so he asked, “Archie Who?”
The Mississippi fans are glad he asked and most of the Tennessee fans have forgiven him for providing the spark that fired up Ole Miss’s team.
Archie, the football phenomenon married Olivia, the homecoming queen, and the documentary proceeded to cover the accomplishments of their children.
I enjoyed learning Cooper Manning’s story. I had heard he was a gifted receiver who, because of back problems, had to quit playing. Tuesday night I learned that his condition sidelined him at Ole Miss and ended the possibility that he and his younger brother, Peyton, would be team mates again as they were for one year in high school.
Surgery corrected the problem, but the recovery required the kind of determination his family is known for, and with their help he recovered. His life took a turn away from a career of his own to supporting his brothers.
The documentary moved on to Peyton Manning.
When Peyton signed to play for Tennessee, it was always exciting to see him take the field. He was always a class act and made watching games more fun for my resident coach.We were sorry he didn’t win the Heisman Trophy, but that thing has been the kiss of death for too many winners, and he’s doing just fine without it.
The youngest Manning, Eli, has a story that brings his family back into the good graces of the people of Mississippi and pits brother against brother as stellar quarterbacks in the NFL.
One thing that struck me was Peyton’s comment about Archie, “He’s more than my dad. He’s my friend.”
Eli said, “I want to show my daughter the kind of love my dad showed me.”
Archie Manning’s own father took his life the summer before Archie’s senior year in college. To overcome that kind of loss took courage and faith and made him a stronger dad for his own sons.
In her journal Mother wrote,”Trials refine our character. They bring us a new and deeper wisdom and help us discern truth from falsehood. They give us the discipline to do what we know is right. Above all, these things (trials) help us realize life is a gift from God to be cherished; not a right to be taken for granted.”
“The Book of Manning” provided insight into the lives of good people living productive lives while overcoming obstacles and, through it all, loving each other.