Lewis: This Super Bowl victory a special one for Archie _lowres

Associated Press file photo -- Archie Manning

During both his playing and post-football career, Archie Manning has received more awards than he can remember.

But the latest for the former Ole Miss and Saints quarterback-turned New Orleans businessman and community leader, “is right up there with the best of them.”

The National Football Foundation recently announced Manning will receive the 2016 NFF Gold Medal, the organization’s highest honor.

The gold medal is awarded to persons based on their integrity, honesty, career success, and basic values that mirror those who have excelled in amateur sports.

Then President Dwight Eisenhower was the first recipient of the gold medal in 1958. Other winners have included Ronald Reagan, Gerald Ford, Norman Schwarzkopf, Keith Jackson and Roger Staubach. Condoleezza Rice was last year’s honoree.

Manning will receive the award at the NFF awards banquet on Dec. 6 in New York.

“I am really, really honored,” said Manning, who has been the NFF Chairman since 2007. “This is something I could have never envisioned.

“Presidents, generals, admirals and CEOs have received this in the past. But the ones that jump out to me are John Wayne and Jackie Robinson. That’s the kind of company this puts me in.”

NFF President and CEO Steve Hatchell called Manning a “football icon who subsequently used his standing to become one of the game’s greatest ambassadors.

“The entire football community has been blessed by his enormous contributions and we take great pride in having him as our chairman,” Hatchell added. “He has earned this honor many times over.”

Awards committee chairman Jack Ford said of Manning, “Coming from humble beginnings, Archie Manning has exhibited an extraordinary work ethic throughout his life. Archie’s exceptional composure enabled him to handle adversity on and off the field.

“He has remained deeply committed to his family and the community. His focus has always been on others and making those around him better.”

That has included his work with the NFF. During Manning’s tenure as NFF chairman the organization has opened the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta and widened the scope of its scholarship program.

“I am especially proud of the fact that we recognize the scholar-athlete, and we reward kids starting in high school,” Manning said.

“We honor those kids and they’re the ones who turn out to be great leaders and people in our society.”

The awards dinners in New York also will honor this year’s Hall of Fame class, which includes former LSU quarterback Bert Jones.