#8 Archie Manning, Quarterback, Ole Miss, 1971-1982
Throughout the 70's, the New Orleans Saints had precious few players they could call superstars. But one of those superstars was a red headed All-American from Drew, Mississippi.
Archie Manning was the Saints 1st pick in 1971 and the second player taken overall following an almost legendary career at Ole Miss. He had 4,753 career yards, and his 56 TDs are still a school record. All-SEC in 1969 and 1970, he was 4th in the Heisman Trophy award voting in 1969 and 3rd in 1970.
Saint's Fans will never forget Archie Manning's first NFL start against the Los Angeles Rams. Archie passed for 1 score and, as time ran out, he boot-legged it in from the 1 to give the Saints the upset 24-20. In another 24-14 upset over the eventual Super Bowl champs Dallas, he ran for 2 scores.
Unfortunately, for the rest of his career victories were few and far between. It was not until the arrival of Dick Nolan that Archie began to get much deserved respect. Nolan built upon what former coach Hank Stram had started and got some offensive tools for Archie to work with. With a formidable running game in Chuck Muncie and Tony Galbreath, a group of quality receivers in Ike Harris, Wes Chandler, and Tight End Henry Childs and an offensive line that could give some protection, Archie was named NFC MVP in 1978, and made the Pro Bowl in 1978 and 1979. In New Orleans, Archie set virtually every passing record and still holds most yards, TDs, attempts and completions in a career.
In 1982, as Archie was beginning his 11th season in New Orleans. After a 21-7 season-opener loss to the St. Louis Cardinals, Bum Phillips opted to discard a Saints icon in favor of aging NFL legend Ken Stabler. The next 4 years he played a total of 17 games between the Houston Oilers and Minnesota Vikings. After his retirement in 1985, he did Saints games on the radio for several years and still announces exhibition games from time to time on TV.
Watching Archie as a teenager playing Little League and High School football, I always held him in the highest regards. Playing on some of the worst teams in professional football, he was always a professional act. I don't remember him ever railing on the Saints or complaining. Every Sunday he remained competitive and was always the team leader. I still vividly remember him chasing a Detroit defensive lineman off the field after he had been sacked. The said Lion had supposedly attempted to step on Archie's hand.
Despite the Saints lack of success during his career, Archie still retains his sense of humor. He was color-commentating during a Saint game when the Saints managed a 2-play scoring drive. The other commentator asked if Archie had ever experienced that as a Saint..... a 2 play scoring drive. Archie did shoot back that they did manage a 3 play scoring drive once. He quickly added that the other team thought it was halftime and had left for the locker room early.