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Q&A: Talking About Coaches, Quarterbacks And College Football With Archie Manning

There may be no more prolific quarterback pedigree than the Manning family.

Dad Archie starred at Ole Miss and then was a star during a rough and tumble era for the New Orleans Saints (1971-82), including two Pro Bowl selections and being named the NFC Offensive Player of the Year (1978).

He then had short stints with the Houston Oilers and Minnesota Vikings, retiring in 1984 with career marks that included 125 touchdown passes and 23,911 yards.

Son Peyton led the Indianapolis Colts to victory in Super Bowl XLI and has won four NFL MVP honors.

Son Eli led the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII.

And eldest son Cooper, though never a quarterback, had the football genes as an All-State wide receiver while attending high school, and is now a businessman.

In addition to being a devoted father and husband, Archie has remained busy in football circles since retiring. Among his current efforts, he is spokesperson and contributor to the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year program, which rewards college coaches not just for their leadership on the gridiron, but also for the character and leadership qualities off the field.

Peyton has been in the news as the NFL season begins, not for his prowess on the field but due to his on-going slow recovery from neck surgery. The Colts this week named Kerry Collins as their starting QB in Game 1, breaking Manning’s consecutive-game playing streak at 227, including the playoffs.

“He’s 35, he has been hurt before, but it catches up with you,” Dad Archie told CBSSports.com regarding Peyton’s situation. “This is kind of unique, because of the lockout. It just wasn’t a good time to have neck surgery during the lockout. He had to make decisions and had to begin rehab [without consulting and working with the team]. He’s worked extremely hard, so we’ll see what happens.”

Big Lead Sports spoke with Archie Manning about coaching, leadership and quarterbacks.

Big Lead Sports: There have been many questions regarding ethical actions of coaches this year. How much of a factor should the “off-field” actions factor into a coach of the year selection?

Archie Manning: This has gone on forever. We’ve had coaches who have trouble within their organizations.  For every bad thing, you can find another coach that is doing great things with his players, developing men and doing great work in their community. That’s why the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award is special – it celebrates coaches’ work in their community, as well as their work on field and with their student athletes.

BLS: Has the pressure to win on coaches, even from what you have seen on the high school level, become too much?

AM: Yes, I think so. Sometimes it’s particularly the fault of the fans but sometimes particularly the fault of the media. The coaches are trying to teach men values – make good grades, graduate on time. At the same time, media, fans, alumni put pressure on coaches to win 10, 11 games and yes, it is hard.

BLS: Being an SEC die-hard, what do you think of the potential expansion with Texas A&M and how that will positively or negatively affect schools that have now always been at the top of the SEC in football?

AM: I am a fan of SEC football – always been around that conference. A&M is a wonderful institution – great tradition, more so than any in the country. I think they’d make a great addition to the SEC – bringing in a Texas school would open up the state to the SEC, since there are so many great players there. Also, it will get other kids in the state of Texas thinking SEC.

BLS: How has the role of a parent whose kids are successfully involved in athletics changed since your sons were younger?

AM: One thing in parenting we see a lot of today is specialization at a young age. Not many kids playing three-four sports. Kids in early days should continue to play as much as possible, as long as they keep up with their schoolwork and family

Unless you’re really good at something, you shouldn’t drop to one sport at a young age and go at it too hard with too much emphasis on being a pro one day. There is so much to learn in sports and the more you play, the healthier it is for kids. Time management becomes an issue as kids get older – that’s when you narrow it down

BLS: What are your thoughts on how the lockout was resolved?

AM: I see it as a win-win for players and owners. Players who had a good deal before – still have a good deal and I really felt all along they’d get an agreement and it’s great that things are now good on both sides.

BLS: At the college level, is winning becoming too much of a priority for coaches as opposed to developing players?

AM: There is too much put on the coach to win and coaches are put under too pressure for national championship versus just enjoying a winning season. We don’t always reward success – we want the maximum, which puts too much on the coaches to achieve the highest level. This gets in the way of what coaches are really there to do – developing players into student-athletes.  We need to let up on coaches in terms of pressuring them and let them do their job

BLS: What has been the biggest difference in Peyton’s development as an athlete in Indianapolis vs. Eli’s in New York?

AM: Each situation is a little different – but the biggest is the difference in the markets for each team. Eli has to deal with media of a big market like New York City versus the smaller market in Indianapolis. Both play in quality organizations, which, as a father, is great.

Editor’s Note: To participate in the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year program, fans can visit CoachoftheYear.com now through Dec. 3 to vote (once per day) for a coach in each division that they feel best embodies responsibility, integrity, sportsmanship and excellence through their work on and off the field.

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