Of the handful of players that are remembered from awful New Orleans Saint seasons of the 70s, none is more beloved by the Who Dat faithful than Ol’ Miss quarterback Archie Manning. He was literally the heart and soul of the New Orleans Saints during those lean years.
The second player taken overall in the 1971 NFL College Draft, Archie would play 11 hard and very frustrating. Of those 11 seasons he finished in the Top 10 Sacked Quarterbacks List 9 times. 3 times he was #1. It wasn’t until the last 2 years of the 70s that Archie Manning began to get he attention of the NFL. When Head coach Hank Stram arrived in 1976, he began putting some pieces in place on the offense that could benefit Archie. Dick Nolan did the same thing when he arrived in 1978. Playmakers like Chuck Muncie, Tony Galbreath, Ike Harris, Wes Chandler and Conrad Dobler were added as existing players like John Hill and Henry Childs stepped up and contributed. Without a doubt, 1978 and 1979 were his best seasons of his Professional career. Named to the Pro Bowl both years, he guided New Orleans to the only non-losing season of his career. Statistically, 1980 was probably his best but the stigma of that disastrous 1-15 “Bag Head” year will forever blemish anything he did that terrible season.
When Bum Phillips took over as head coach in 1981 the writing was on the wall. Rookie Dave Wilson was receiving more playing time while Archie was banged up. When former Oakland Raider Legend Kenny Stabled came on board in 1982, it was obvious Archie Manning’s days as a New Orleans Saint were numbered. He starter the season opener against the St. Louis Cardinals. He completed 1 of 7 passes for 3 yards and 2 interceptions before Bum pulled him and sent The Snake in. By the week 2 he was a Houston Oiler. When he retired in 1984 he was a Minnesota Viking.
It’s easy to understand that most of the modern Who Dat Nation really hasn’t concerned itself with Archie Manning. With the phenomenal success that future Hall of Famer Drew Brees has had most football fans know Archie as the father of Peyton & Eli Manning. And naturally so. Why would anyone want to remember those losing seasons where the number of wins could be counted on one hand?
Because to me, and other stalwart New Orleans Saints fans that watched players like Archie Manning fight through those years and give 110% every game despite the loss after loss the Championship of Super Bowl 44 in 2009 is just that much sweeter. Archie will never make it to Canton, but to Saints fans like myself, his accomplishments will be remembered as Heroic.
What do you think? Should those days of losing be just forgotten or should those teams be honored? Leave a comment and let me know how you feel.