He is the head of the first family of North Mississippi and Ole Miss. Archie Manning, father to Super Bowl winning quarterbacks Peyton and Eli as well as to his oldest son Cooper, a successful senior managing partner at a real estate company.
So as one would expect in Oxford, Mississippi, no big event is complete without an appearance from a member of the Manning family, including at the Web.com Tour’s inaugural North Mississippi Classic.
Archie, a member of the College Football Hall of Fame, also went to two Pro Bowls in the NFL and is a member of the New Orleans Saints Ring of Honor and Hall of Fame.
One of Ole Miss’s proudest alumni spoke with PGA TOUR Digital ahead of the Manning Pro-Am, as part of the North Mississippi Classic, to discuss his excitement for the tournament, the charity which will benefit this week and which of his famous sons is the best golfer in the family.
What are your thoughts on the inaugural North Mississippi Classic?
We’re just really excited about having a Web.com (Tour event) here in Oxford, Mississippi — in North Mississippi, we call it here — the North Mississippi Classic. Oxford, Mississippi, of course is the home of Ole Miss. It’s a special place for me and my family. My wife went here. My oldest son went to Ole Miss (Cooper), and my youngest son (Eli) played football here. My middle son, Peyton, went somewhere else.
But I’ve been familiar with this Tour for a long time. I’ve played in one of the Louisiana events (the Chitimacha Louisiana Open presented by NACHER) several times. I just thought it was a great thing for North Mississippi, a great thing for Oxford and Ole Miss to have the tournament here.
They asked us, our family, to be involved with the pro-am. They called it the Manning Pro-Am. So we were more than excited to do that. As I told the participants last night, the reasons we enjoy being involved, we love golf. We love Oxford, Mississippi. We love Ole Miss. But we also love to help sick children, and that’s a benefactor of this. We’ve been very involved with the Batson Children’s Hospital in Jackson, Mississippi. My son Eli, it’s been one of his top charities. We’ve got a big campaign going on right now for the children’s hospital.
The Sanderson Farms (Championship) in Jackson, the PGA TOUR tournament, they’re very involved with the hospital. So we saw the opportunity to do the same thing here. I think it’s a win-win. I hope we can have good weather. We’re glad to have everyone here.
With you having been a professional athlete, what impresses you the most about professional golfers and what it takes to compete at this level?
They’re just so good. It’s just so hard to get out there on the (PGA TOUR) and to stay there. Just so impressed with all these young guys, always have been. How hard they work and grind. They don’t make as much money. They’ve got their travel. They’ve got their caddies. They’ve got their coaches, but trying to get to that elite status, I’m just impressed with it.
Nice young people. Fun to meet them. Fun to be around them. Kind of fun to hear their story. It’s pretty neat if you meet somebody on this Tour and then one day they do make it … it’s kind of fun to experience that.
If you were playing in a two-on-two match, and you had to pick one of your sons to be your partner, which one would it be?
Peyton’s the best player out of our family. My boys all played a lot of baseball growing up. I really wanted them to play a little more golf. I didn’t play golf growing up. I didn’t have a golf course in my hometown. When I was up here in school, I played baseball.
So I didn’t really start golfing until kind of late, but I love the game. I’ve enjoyed all my experiences. The travel, the people I’ve met. Opportunities to play in beautiful places. So, I was hoping the boys would play junior golf. They played baseball.
Everybody plays now. We’ve had some great trips together, but I will have to say Peyton is the best player of the four of us.
Being that we’re here at Ole Miss, how would you explain Hotty Toddy?
Hotty Toddy is just kind of our cheer. It’s a cheer that our fans use many times during our games. If you went to Ole Miss and you see someone else that went to Ole Miss, you say, “Hotty Toddy.”
So you can say Hotty Toddy to Cooper and Eli but not to Peyton (who went to Tennessee)?
No, not to Peyton, but Peyton likes Ole Miss too. He grew up really liking Ole Miss. With the timing and so forth, it just wasn’t the spot for him. But he’s always been supportive of Ole Miss.