JACKSON – It was Manning Day in Mississippi on Tuesday.
Legislators took time out of their schedules to give special recognition to Archie and Olivia Manning and their three sons at the state Capitol.
The Senate passed resolutions honoring the family and spent time with Archie and his youngest son, New York Giants quarterback Eli, during a reception. Neither Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts nor his mother could make the event.
Both Mannings in attendance Tuesday were All-American quarterbacks at Ole Miss, which alone qualifies for recognition at the Capitol. But senators took it a step further with a series of resolutions honoring every member of the family for their service to the state over the years.
“I always said no matter what I do or where I go, I’ll always be from Mississippi,” Archie Manning told the Senate.
Archie Manning, a former New Orleans Saints quarterback, and Eli spent time after the ceremony signing autographs. They were treated like the celebrities they are in Mississippi with politicians jockeying for position with staffers to have footballs, hats and even scraps of paper off their desks autographed.
Dozens of school children on a tour of the Capitol sat in the visitors’ balcony during the ceremony. Both Mannings received standing ovations and Eli was congratulated on his recent move to Oxford, making him the only member of the immediate family to actually still live in the state.
The elder Manning remains a New Orleans resident. Eldest son Cooper was an all-state wide receiver and an Ole Miss player before a doctor ordered him to stop playing because of a spinal problem.
Peyton Manning decided to play at Tennessee, while his brother fulfilled the family legacy at Ole Miss. Both were No. 1 overall draft picks and both led their teams to Super Bowl titles. Peyton was named Super Bowl MVP in 2007. A year later, Eli won the same award while leading the Giants to a championship.
After receiving a framed copy of the Senate resolution that was twice the size of his father’s, Eli told the Senate: “I guess I had better stats because mine’s a little bigger than Dad’s.”
Archie apologized for the absence of Peyton. But he had a good excuse — he was in Florida playing a round of golf with Tiger Woods.
“I got a text message this morning that said, ‘(Woods) just birdied the first hole,’” Archie Manning told the crowd of breathless senators. “About 15 minutes later I got another one that said, ‘He just birdied the second hole.’ I texted back that he was just lucky.”
Chris Talbott/The Associated Press