Former NFL great Archie Manning couldn’t remember a favorite Father’s Day gift he received from one of his three sons Peyton, Cooper and Eli. He recalled spending too many of the holiday weekends watching one of the three play youth league baseball somewhere in the area.
“Usually Thibodaux,” Archie said.
“Or Chalmette,” Eli said. “There were lots of trips to Chalmette.”
Of course, the best Father’s Days are when Archie and his three sons and all eight of his grandchildren are able to get together. That doesn’t happen often, of course, what with Eli living on the East Coast and Peyton in Colorado and Cooper in New Orleans and Archie doing his own thing.
“It’s hard to get our crew together,” Archie said.
This year, Eli and his family will get to host dad and mom, Olivia, in New York, in part because Archie and Eli spent the week promoting a new Gillette Shave Club, a subscription service which offers rewards and discounts on various grooming products.
“I guess I should say the best gift is this new Gillette Shave Club I expect I’ll be getting,” Archie said. “I expect it will be wrapped up and waiting at my door.”
Said Eli: “Way to ruin the surprise, dad.”
But the two also spent good deal of time talking about growing up a Manning. And all of them are looking forward to gathering next month in Thibodaux, where the Mannings will host their 20th annual Manning Passing Academy, the annual football skills camp to be held on the campus of Nicholls State University. More than 1,200 athletes are expected to attend, along with 40 college starting quarterbacks and a huge staff of coaches and instructors.
“The fact that this is our 20th year, that we sell out every year before Christmas, tells us that we’re doing something exciting for the kids,” Archie said. “We’re excited to give high school kids this experience. It’s not about developing pro players. It’s about high school kids enjoying themselves.”
“I’m really looking forward to Peyton, Cooper, dad and me living in a dorm room,” Eli said. “It’s four days we know we’ll be together.”
Not that the Mannings ignore each other during the offseason. Archie said all of his sons are great about keeping in touch, especially with modern technology.
“With the grand kids there’s a lot of talking, texting and messaging,” Archie said.
Eli said he often turns to dad for advice about both on- and off-the-field issues. The Giants have hit a rough patch in recent years. Since winning the Super Bowl in 2011, the Giants have failed to make the playoffs and posted back-to-back losing records. But Eli said he’s not discouraged.
“I’m excited about the upcoming season,” he said. “We just finished camp (Thursday) and we saw some real good things. I think we finished on a positive note last year. We’ve got a good group of players coming back.”
While much of the media’s attention has been on Peyton and his comeback from what some thought would be a career-ending neck injury, as well as his advancing age (he’s 39), Eli admits the clock is ticking on him as well (he’s 34).
“With football, the clock is always ticking,” he said. “You never know when it’s your last play or your last game. You just want to take advantage of every moment and you hope to make the best of it.”