New Orleans Saints Mount Rushmore: QB Archie Manning
In 1971, the first three selections in the NFL Draft were all quarterbacks. The New England Patriots opted for Stanford’s Jim Plunkett first overall and two picks later, the Houston Oilers snared Santa Clara’s Dan Pastorini. Right smack in the middle was Ole Miss signal-caller Archie Manning.
The Saints were in their fifth year of existence and had not learned how to win yet. It was a franchise that owned a 14-40-2 record in their initial four years so the young quarterback joined a team that was still trying to find his way. And in what amounted to 10-plus seasons with the organization, Manning took his lumps and so did the rest of the club. But it certainly wasn’t for a lack of effort.
The numbers during his stay in the Big Easy saw him throw for 21,734 yards and more interceptions (156) than touchdown (115) passes. But he was also sacked a disturbing 340 times in 134 contests with the club. He actually ran for 2,058 yards and 18 scores and certainly not all of that was by design. Still, Manning enjoyed some solid years in 1978 and ’79, earning trips to the Pro Bowl on both occasions.
Simply put, you can’t tell the story of the history of the New Orleans Saints with one of the franchise’s earliest standouts. And quarterback Archie Manning was certainly a player who took one for the team.