The National Football Foundation (NFF) & College Hall of Fame awarded Archie Manning the 2016 NFF Gold Medal in recognition of his leadership during the 59th NFF Annual Awards Dinner Tuesday night at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City.
NFF President and CEO Steve Hatchell said the selection was an easy one.
“Archie Manning became an icon as one of the greatest players to ever set foot on the gridiron, and he subsequently used his standing to become one of the game’s greatest ambassadors,” said Hatchell. “The entire football community has been blessed by his enormous contributions, and we take great pride in having him as our chairman. He has earned this honor many times over, and we are extremely proud to add his name to the esteemed list of past NFF Gold Medal recipients.”
The Gold Medal is the most prestigious award by the NFF, and recognizes an outstanding American who has demonstrated integrity and honesty; achieved significant career success; and has reflected the basic values of those who have excelled in amateur sport, particularly football.
It was first presented to President Dwight D. Eisenhower at the NFF Annual Awards Dinner in 1958. The Gold Medal has also been awarded to seven presidents, four generals, three admirals, one Supreme Court Justice, 29 corporate CEOs and chairmen, actor John Wayne and baseball legend Jackie Robinson. Manning was the 63rd recipient.
An All-America quarterback at Ole Miss, a Pro Bowl player with the New Orleans Saints and a College Football Hall of Fame inductee, Manning charted a successful post-football career, including roles as an investment broker, broadcaster, restaurateur, endorser, community leader and philanthropist. He added the NFF to his list of many charities, joining the NFF Board of Directors in 1993. He served with distinction before becoming NFF Chairman in 2007 and the leader of a nationwide network of 120 chapters in 47 states with more than 12,000 members.
During his tenure as chairman, the NFF has experienced remarkable growth, and his leadership played a critical role in the recent opening of the state-of-the-art $68.5 million College Football Hall of Fame in the heart of Atlanta. He also oversaw the launch of the NFF Leadership Hall of Fame, which has helped raise and distribute millions of dollars for the NFF scholarships, programs and initiatives. Currently, the organization distributes more than $1.3 million each year and recognizes thousands of student-athletes for their accomplishments on and off the field.
Manning boasted the goal of the foundation and the impact it has on student-athletes.
“There are a lot of good things and people because of football, and we recognize them,” said Manning in a promotional video for the organization. “I am especially proud of the fact that we recognize the scholar-athlete, and we reward kids starting in high school with our chapter program, distributing scholarships to those who do a great job of balancing football time with their academic requirements. We honor those kids, and they’re the ones who turn out to be great leaders and people in our society. It’s just gratifying to be part of something that does something great for young people.”
Archie Manning was born in Drew, Mississippi, in May of 1949. A talented athlete in every sport he could try-out for, Manning actually turned down the Atlanta Braves after his senior year in high school to play football at Ole Miss. That led him to a fantastic career in the NFL–He played for the New Orleans Saints from 1971 to 1982, and for short stints with the Houston Oilers and Minnesota Vikings.
That was only the beginning of the Manning legacy– Archie and his wife Olivia had three sons: Cooper, Peyton and Eli. Cooper was unable to finish his football start at Ole Miss after being diagnosed with spinal stenosis, and is now a sports broadcaster across multiple platforms, including the Manning Hour for Fox Sports.
Peyton and Eli, both having lucrative NFL careers, have been heavily involved in giving to charity and those less fortunate. Peyton and his wife Ashley operate the Peyback Foundation, and Eli and his wife Abby support numerous charities, including the Friends of Children’s Hospital– the fund that supports Blair E. Batson Children’s Hospital–to which Eli and Abby have pledged $1 million dollars.