While his story may not be unique on, it is a sad one nevertheless. When Archie Manning was chosen in 1971 with the Saints 1st round pick expectations were high for the All-American redhead from Mississippi. His first ever NFL start ended with him boot-legging around the left end as time expired for a 24-20 upset of the Los Angeles Rams. Unfortunately, when he left 11 years [and 340 sacks] later, New Orleans could boast of but 1 non-losing season – and that was an 8-8 record, set in 1979.
The Saints misfortunes of those dreadful years could hardly be blamed on Archie. During the 1970s the Saints were plagued by assortment of issues ranging from atrocious defensive play to horrid coaching to inept management. The Saints combined win-loss record of Archie’s years was 35 wins, 90 losses and 2 ties. When he sat out the 1976 season with a shoulder injury the Saints posted a 4-10 year. His 2 best years came in 1978 and 1979, consequently the 2 best years to date for New Orleans at the time as well when he was named the Pro Bowl Both years.
He constantly earned the respect of his team mates and opponents alike (Hall of Fame defensive end Jack Youngblood claims he wouldn’t hit Manning as hard out of sympathy for him). He firmly held literally every Saints passing record in the book when head coach Bum Phillips dealt him to Houston in 1982 for aging offensive tackle Leon Gray. Most of those records remained set until early 2000s when Arron Brooks became the signal caller. After going to Houston he spent about a year-and-a-half with the Minnesota Vikings. His combined record between the Vikings and Oilers was 0-10 as a starter.
I found this image in a 1987 game program, as the Saints were about to host the Houston Oilers as New Orleans had already clinched their first ever playoff spot and were actually battling for the NFC Western Division title. It was proclaimed “Archie Manning” Day and New Orleans favorite son was being honored as the very first Inductee into the New Orleans Saints Wall of Fame. He was accompanied by his wife, Olivia, former team mate Bobby Scott and his sons Cooper, Peyton and Eli.
Archie Manning’s Career Statistics with the New Orleans Saints