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Archie Manning reflects on debut with New Orleans Saints, sons as 'Monday Night Football' commentators

Manning played his first game with Saints on Sept. 19, 1971

By Erin Summers,

Fifty years ago Saints quarterback Archie Manning led New Orleans to its first opening day victory in franchise history.

Manning scored the go-ahead touchdown on the final play for the 24-20 win over the Los Angeles Rams on Sept. 19, 1971.

"The fact that it's been 50 years, I guess I should feel pretty good about the fact that you remember a few things there, possibly because we won," Manning said Monday on the Saints Podcast presented by SeatGeek. "I've always said, though, there's nothing like opening day, opening day in the NFL. Especially when you're a rookie, your eyes are big and your stomach churning a little bit and kind of a dream to do this. You're finally there."

After being drafted second overall by New Orleans in 1971, Manning was named the starter toward the end of the team's six preseason games, but it wasn't an easy path for the Ole Miss star quarterback.

"I got hurt my first (preseason) game in old Tulane Stadium. I think it was our third preseason game. They had dugouts on the visitor side and home side, we were playing the Kansas City Chiefs who had just won a Super Bowl in the last couple of years," Manning recalled. "I got knocked into the dugout on the visitor side and lost my footing. I didn't get to play for a couple of weeks."

Manning went on to play 12 seasons for the Saints, was a two-time Pro Bowler and is a member of the Saints Ring of Honor and the Saints Hall of Fame.

Since his time with the Saints, the Manning name has only grown, from his sons Peyton, Eli and Cooper to his grandson Arch.

Peyton and Eli Manning, former NFL quarterbacks themselves, are now commentators for "Monday Night Football" games on ESPN2.

"I didn't know what to expect. I was kind of proud of the reviews that they got. I thought it started out a little too hyper," Archie Manning said of his sons Week 1 debut. "I think when it did settle down and he and Eli are just kind of watching the game together… and commenting, maybe using some of the things they learned through the years, that can help the fans enjoy it… I was proud of that. I think they can have fun with that."

While Eli and Peyton are diving into the world of broadcasting, Cooper's son Arch is following in the family footsteps as a quarterback at Newman. The grandson of Archie Manning is experiencing a lot of attention as the No. 1 quarterback recruit in the class of 2023.

"The recruiting world has changed so much since my other boys went through," Manning said. "Arch is in his junior year, I can promise you, when Peyton and Eli came on, Cooper too, who got recruited, there was nothing about recruiting until kind of toward the end of their junior year and the spring before their senior year. That's when all of the letters came and the coaches coming by and talking about visiting and everything, before their senior year, (Arch)'s just a junior right now and he's already been through it."

As for the Saints current starting quarterback, Jameis Winston, he spent some time during college with the Manning family at the Manning Passing Academy.

"At our camp he was very intent on spending some time around Peyton and Eli and asking them a lot of the questions," Manning said of Winston. "He wanted to learn. He could tell he wanted to be a pro player… I thought last year was a lot of value for Jameis being in the quarterback room with the Saints with Drew (brees) and Sean (Payton)."

The Saints, led by the former Florida State national champion and Heisman Trophy winner, are 1-1 heading into a week three matchup at New England.

"It'd be great to go on the road next week and get a win," Manning said. "Jameis to have a little better game and then come home, play in front of a home crowd, kind of get season going in that respect."

That home game, Oct. 3 against the New York Giants in the Caesars Superdome, will be the first time a full crowd of Saints fans will be able to attend a game since the 2019 season.

On January 28, 1971, the New Orleans Saints drafted quarterback Archie Manning as the second overall pick. Check out his years in uniform in New Orleans.

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