Around 300 Lafayette community business leaders gathered to honor former New Orleans Saints quarterback Archie Manning on Wednesday as he received the Evangeline Area Council Boy Scouts of America Distinguished Citizen Award at the Doubletree Hotel in Lafayette.

“I’m really humbled and honored,” Manning said. “Scouting has done great work for many generations, and I think what I love about it is the things that it instills in our young people. It builds character, it teaches responsibility and it teaches leadership.”

The Distinguished Citizen Award is an annual award presented to individuals who show extraordinary leadership in the community. Recipients are selected by the Southeast Louisiana Council Committee, which is made up of executive board members from around Acadiana.

Manning was joined by former Louisiana-Lafayette and Carolina Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme and Cajuns football coach Mark Hudspeth. The three spoke in a forum-like setting, touched on the importance of Boy Scouts and told various football stories from their years in football.

Delhomme said he idolized Manning growing up as he pulled out a black Saints jersey and unfolded it. Delhomme’s mom found the jersey while cleaning his room a while back, he said. It was a No. 8 jersey, but instead of having ‘Manning’ on the back, the jersey boasted the name ‘Jake.’

“That was actually my jersey— obviously a few years ago,” Delhomme said. “I got to meet one of my idols growing up (at the Manning Passing Academy), and I’ve gotten to know Archie for a long time. Everything you read, see and hear about him is exactly true. He is a man of the highest integrity and obviously a pretty decent athlete at that.”

Although Manning has lived in New Orleans since being drafted by the Saints in 1971, he still has ties to the Acadiana area. Manning has hosted a golf tournament in Lafayette for 16 years and said he enjoys spending time in Lafayette.

“We’ve lived (in New Orleans) for 45 years now,” Manning said. “But I’ve been around Louisiana for a long time, and I tell people Lafayette is my favorite place. People have been so nice to me here.”

Evangeline Area Council President Jamie Thompson said Manning is one of the biggest names to receive the award in recent history, and was excited that he was able to speak at the luncheon.

Past recipients of the award include University of Louisiana at Lafayette President Joseph Savoie, Ph.D., former Louisiana Lt. Gov. Scott Angelle, former Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco and former Lafayette Mayor Joey Durel.