'Book of Manning' Calls to Mind Johnny Manziel, Archie Manning Comparisons
It's hard to compare Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel to any other quarterback.
The way the Heisman Trophy winner uses his legs to evade rushers, keep plays alive and delivers precise passes on the move makes him a unique athlete. It certainly wouldn't lead to many comparisons to the Manning brothers, Peyton and Eli.
Aside from Eli's Manziel-esque Super Bowl XLII play, the two brothers are regarded as prototypical pocket passers.
However, as ESPN's Book of Manning documentary revealed, football's most famous father, Archie Manning, had a playing style all of his own—a brand of football much more similar to that of Manziel.
Highlights from the elder Manning's career at Ole Miss show a quick-footed No. 18 in the backfield, running all over SEC defenses like Manziel does today.
In these 1970 Sugar Bowl highlights, Manning shows many of the same attributes as Manziel: accuracy, elusiveness, acute field vision and elite awareness.
Manziel showed much of the same (in much higher resolution), making plays with his arm and legs in the 2013 Cotton Bowl win over Oklahoma. The two were both were named MVP in their respective bowl games.
Both Manziel and Archie Manning were transcendent players.
Manning was described in a video by CBS as being like Superman, always able to make a play or score at any given time.
That ability also stood out to the Book of Manning director Rory Karpf. Associated Press writer Arnie Stapleton quoted Karpf lauding Archie Manning's remarkable athletic ability (Via ABC News):
What intrigued me about telling the story was ... I felt like a lot of people weren't aware of the career that Archie had and how dynamic of a player he was, especially in college. You go back and you look at some of the old footage of Archie Manning in college, and to me, it's captivating. He was kind of like Barry Sanders behind center, how athletic he was, and the footage is really breathtaking to watch.
This spectacular athleticism led Manning to a legendary status at Ole Miss and to a long NFL career.
The similar athleticism led Manziel to become the first freshman to ever win the Heisman Trophy. Manning never had a chance at that distinction, since freshmen weren't allowed to play on varsity teams until 1972—two years after Manning left Oxford.
Manning did, however, finish fourth and third in the Heisman voting in 1969 and 1970 respectively.
Along the way, the Rebel legend didn't quite compile the statistics of Manziel, who currently holds the single-season SEC record for total yardage, but his rushing statistics in particular were incredibly impressive for his time.
In 1969, Manning led his team with 502 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns on the ground. Texas A&M's 2012 offense was much more proficient overall, but it was Manziel who led the way on the ground with more than 1,400 rushing yards and 21 scores.
It would be interesting to see how Manning would have done in today's fast-paced college game that has placed a premium on athleticism at the quarterback position.
Maybe then everyone would be talking about "Archie Football" at Ole Miss instead of Johnny Football at A&M.
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