Friends: Archie's in a win-win situation
The Saint of lost causes years ago, Archie Manning should savor Sunday, locals say
Just plain folk
Opening the door to his home on Esplanade Avenue, in the shadow of a huge oak tree draped in Spanish moss, Peter Finney wishes a visitor good morning. The ceilings are high, antiques and porcelain crowd the curio cabinet and dozens of framed family photos populate the elegant sitting room.Finney, still blessed with a full head of snow-white hair and remarkably spry at the age of 82, has been the sporting voice of New Orleans pretty much forever. He started working at the Times-Picayune 65 years ago, covering high school sports. When he's working on a spicy column, as he was last week at the Saints' facility, his eyes still gleam like a cub reporter's. "There are going to be a lot of Saints fans at that Super Bowl that want to win, but who really admire Peyton Manning," Finney said. "There's no way in the world he wants to lose, but I think Peyton would rather lose to the Saints than anyone. It's one of those love-love stories. "Archie passed on the love he had for New Orleans to his sons. And it became easy for his sons to embrace the city. They were just plain folk blessed with great talent." The new turf field at the Newman School fits snugly into the 107-year-old campus on Jefferson Avenue; shanked punts have been known to bang into the brick classroom rising above the sideline. Walk into the green-and-white locker room and you are met with the charming stench of fully fermented football pads. On the bulletin board you'll find a list of Newman's all-time leaders in passing yards:
1. Peyton Manning (1990 to 1993) 7,528
2. Wes Luquette (2006 to 2008) 7,438
3. Eli Manning (1995 to 1998) 7,421
Stewart, the current coach, is leaning the other way."If there was a way that Peyton could go out on the field and shatter every record, do everything that he could and the New Orleans Saints could come out on top," Stewart said, "it would be a beautiful day." The Manning family would beg to differ. "I was excited for New Orleans," Peyton said at last week's Pro Bowl. "It's a special place to me. I enjoyed watching the game, when the French Quarter was empty during the third quarter, then crazy after they won. I certainly felt the emotion. "[Archie] knows how special this is. He's excited for Drew [Brees] and the players, but I think he's pulling for his son." Of course he is. "It's a game I'm going to pull for my son," Archie said after the Colts beat the New York Jets in the AFC Championship Game. "Sean Payton knows that. He's a great fiend of mine. Drew Brees knows that. That's just the way it is. "Anybody who thinks different must not have children." Mike Kearney, whose sons played with the Mannings at Newman, is pulling for the Saints -- but that doesn't necessarily mean he's rooting against Archie. The way he sees it, Peyton and Eli each have their own Super Bowl already. This one, he said, is for Archie. "All of those poor, desperate years are going to be vanquished with this win," Kearney said, sitting in his grand home overlooking Audubon Park in the Uptown section of the city. "It's justice. We owe it to Archie."
Greg Garber is a senior writer for ESPN.com.
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