By Phil Hecken
So yesterday was my birthday (thanks to all UWers who wished me well), a birthday I happen to share with Eli Manning. Ironically, today is my dad’s birthday (a birthday he does not share with Archie Manning). Peyton Manning played last night in an epic game against the Chargers (despite the overtime loss). But the fact that Peyton Manning and Eli Manning, both Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks, may some day (perhaps sooner rather than later) face each other in a
“Manning Bowl” Super Bowl got me to thinking: are Archie’s boys the greatest sports offspring in history? Are the Mannings the greatest sports family ever? Both sons are Super Bowl Most Valuable Players, and Peyton was just named NFL MVP for the third time.
We know how the sons of Archie rank as players. Certainly, it’s hard to argue with their football pedigree. Only because Archie had the misfortune of spending most of his career with the woeful Saints, and ending it with the equally awful Houston Oilers (1982-1983) and Minnesota Vikings (1983-1984), where the teams posted a collective record of 6-35, did he not achieve greater football glory. But Archie wasn’t all bad — he went to the Pro Bowl in 1978 and 1979. His overall numbers don’t lie: He ended his 13-year career having completed 2,011 of 3,642 passes for 23,911 yards and 125 touchdowns, with 173 interceptions. He also rushed for 2,197 yards and 18 touchdowns. His 2,011 completions ranked 17th in NFL history upon his retirement. Had he played for better teams, it’s doubtful his record as a starter, which was 35-101-3 (26.3%), would be the worst in NFL history among QBs with at least 100 starts.
You know all about Eli and Peyton, so I won’t discuss them further. You probably know they have an older brother, Cooper (famously featured in this ESPN commercial). Cooper was also a football player growing up, (he was once an all-state high school receiver, catching touchdown passes from Peyton), but doctors diagnosed him with spinal stenosis (a narrowing of the spinal canal) before college, leading to an early end to his career. Imagine how much more famous the family would be if Cooper had made it to the NFL.
Certainly the Mannings are football royalty, the greatest family ever to grace the gridiron. They may be the greatest father-son(s) team in sports, although one could argue Bobby and Barry and the Griffeys in baseball, the Earnhardts in stock car (as well as other famous families), Dick & Pete Weber in bowling, and Bobby and Brett Hull in hockey certainly approach the Mannings’ status. But since Archie had not one, but two, immensely successful sons, I am wont to think the Mannings are the kings of the sports family tree.
And now, a personal note: I wanted to thank Paul and all the UW readership for bearing with me these past few weeks as I worked into the role of bench coach. I apologize if this post was not up to my usual snuff, as I spent most of Saturday with my dad, who’s been recovering from West Nile Virus (here’s a pic of us this summer). He has spent 99 days (so far — a week of which was in a coma and close to death, and the rest of the time with first a feeding tube, then a PEG, which wasn’t removed until two days ago) recuperating in the hospital and then a rehabilitation facility, so I’ve been spending most of my evenings and weekends with him. But he’s coming HOME on Monday (and he and my mom only live 10 minutes away from me), so I’ll be able to devote more time to UW now.
Thanks to all of you for being so supportive (and to those of you with whom I speak off the boards, I’ve really appreciated all your kind words and thoughts). So Happy Birthday Dad, and many, many more! Cake at home on Monday will be the best ever!