I recently watched ESPN’s documentary, The Book of Manning. The film tells the story of the Manning family, whose patriarch, Archie Manning, had a long career as a quarterback in the NFL, including 10 years playing for our own New Orleans Saints. Two of his sons, Peyton and Eli, played as NFL quarterbacks, and have each won two Super Bowls.
What struck me most about the documentary was not the family’s dynasty of success so much as the attitude of humility which marks the family, in a sport not known for that quality.
The film spends some time on the story of Archie and Olivia Manning’s eldest son, Cooper. Cooper played at Newman High School as a wide receiver, and went on to Ole Miss. Unfortunately, a diagnosis of spinal stenosis in his freshman college year ended his football career before it could begin.
In the true Manning spirit, after Cooper left Ole Miss, he encouraged his brothers in their own football aspirations and accomplishments. Cooper himself went into business, and was the head of a global investment firm. Both Peyton and Eli maintain that Cooper’s attitude toward dealing with his diagnosis has been a great source of inspiration for both of them.
Together with the football successes of Archie, Peyton and Eli Manning, Cooper’s own success struck me as evidence that the Manning family, their values and ethos, might provide some clues as to how to make success more likely, while retaining the values of humility and dignity. Archie Manning’s thoughts on parenting may provide some of these clues –
• He did not try to coach his sons in football, but gave his opinions only when they were asked for
• He believes in the value of sport, but only if his children wanted to participate – they shouldn’t be forced
• He believes in teaching his children to make good decisions, and then letting them do so
This, to me, illustrates Archie Manning’s own humility – he provided his sons with an excellent example, taught them good values, and trusted them to make their own decisions. Cooper, Peyton, and Eli all appear to have profited from this approach, both personally and professionally.
The Mannings prove it is possible to enjoy enormous success in a high-profile field known for bravado, while still approaching life with humility. They are an excellent example to all of us, as we raise our own children.
Until next Wednesday -