New Orleans Saints legend Archie Manning kicked off the annual Manning Passing Academy at Nicholls State University on Friday, June 26. Joined by his sons Peyton Manning, Eli Manning and Cooper Manning, the weekend-long event aims to enhance the high school football experience and offer skill building for young athletes.
The Manning Passing Academy returned to Nicholls State University on Thursday for the 26th time since former New Orleans Saints quarterback Archie Manning began the camp in 1996.
"I'm glad we started it. I had no idea it would grow like this. I had no idea 26 years later we'd still be doing it," Manning said Friday. "We've been blessed. It's work, but it's very satisfying and it's fun."
Manning and his sons Cooper, Peyton and Eli run the event with the help of college coaches and players from across the country. Forty-three starting college quarterbacks including Alabama's Bryce Young and LSU quarterback Myles Brennan were on hand to help teach the more than 1,200 high school athletes in attendance.
"Quarterbacks have always formed their own fraternity. I think there is mutual respect there," Manning said of the college counselors. "A lot of them got recruited together, play against each other, but here it's four days together doing the same thing, helping these kids but also socializing… they seem to like it and we're sure glad they come."
Manning personally invites each of the college quarterbacks every year. In 2014 one of those guest counselors was former Florida State and current Saints quarterback Jameis Winston.
"I've enjoyed keeping up with him since he came to New Orleans," Manning said. "Nice young man. I hated that he got hurt last year but he has a great opportunity this year to bounce back and I'm pulling real hard for Jameis."
With Winston at the helm, Manning said he was really excited for the Saints upcoming season under new head coach Dennis Allen.
"Dennis is a good football coach. He's built a great defense for New Orleans. I think that's a good starting place for a head coach, to have a good defense," Manning said. "They have good offensive coaches, good offensive players, if everybody stays healthy, comes together, I think the Saints should be excited about the start of their season."
The Manning Passing Academy runs until Sunday in Thibodaux, with practices, speaking engagements and skills challenges happening throughout the weekend.