One of Daddy’s perks as pastor of a village church was being allowed to pace the sidelines with the coaches at the local high school football games. One night he came home from a contest between two small rural high schools and predicted to Mama that he had seen next year’s starting quarterback for Ole Miss playing for Drew High School. He proudly told of this prophecy through Archie Manning’s four-year career at Ole Miss and then as longtime quarterback for the New Orleans Saints.
I got my love of football sitting with him by the radio every Saturday afternoon listening to the Ole Miss games. Glad to have a companion, he explained the intricacies of the game to me and turned me into a football enthusiast. During close games, I wrung my hands with him but didn’t go so far as to follow his example of nail-biting.
I joined his Archie Manning fan club and have followed through with Peyton and Eli. The only time I cheer against a Manning is when they play each other. (Eli gets the preference here since he followed his father’s footsteps and played for Ole Miss.)
I’ve had a lot of listening and watching over the years to the Manning quarterbacks, sometimes still accompanied by hand-wringing. The prelude to yesterday’s game centered on whether “old man” Peyton could pull off another win. Where but in football does being thirty-nine make you old?
I thought about Daddy as I watched the Broncos win the Super Bowl. I drew myself a mental picture of him getting cable in heaven and watching a Manning, behind a mighty defense, lead his team to a win. The “old man” did well, and I’m thinking the margin was good enough that Daddy’s nails would still be intact.