The World's Greatest Quarterback
By Carlos Villafuerte
Peyton Williams Manning was born on March 24, 1976, in New Orleans, Louisiana. He was the second of Archie and Olivia Manning's three sons. Cooper, the oldest, arrived in 1974. Eli came into the world five years after Peyton. Like his dad, Peyton loved football. By his third birthday, he was tossing the pigskin with Cooper. For Peyton, childhood was perfect. He idolized his father and dreamed of being a star college quarterback. The Saints were the laughingstock of the NFL, and despite some great individual seasons. In 1982, after he was traded to the Oilers, Archie talked it over with Olivia and they decided the family would stay in New Orleans. Peyton and brothers missed their dad terribly. Archie bounced between the Oilers and Vikings the next four years. In 1984, his last season in the NFL, Olivia and the boys followed him to Minneapolis. Peyton hoped to get his first chance at organized football there, but he was too young for the fifth-grade squad. The Mannings returned to New Orleans the following year, and Peyton looked forward to playing football for Isidore Newman School, one of Louisiana's top private schools. There was only one problem: Newman cancelled its sixth-grade program. Finally, in 1988, Peyton got his chance to play for the first time. When asked to list his favorite positions, he wrote down "quarterback" and "defensive back." Peyton won the starting quarterback job at Newman as a sophomore 1991. Cooper, who had accepted a scholarship to Ole Miss, had been diagnosed with a rare disease called spinal stenosis. Doctors said he would never play football again. Peyton was devastated. He wrote a letter to his brother telling him just how he felt. On January 25, 1994, he announced he was headed to Tennessee. People throughout Mississippi were shocked. Peyton apologized more than once during his press conference. Peyton faced a big decision in the...
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