Meeting Archie Manning

Ethan Flynn

Effective leaders are shaped by the trials and tribulations in which they encounter and their ability to overcome the adversity that follows. Furthermore, The Leadership Series is an impressive list of guest speakers created to provide students with first-hand accounts on how to embody effective leadership. As Georgia Southern students, we should feel privileged to have so many esteemed guest speakers grace our campus and take full advantage of every opportunity that comes along with them.

For those who are not familiar with Mr. Manning, he was an Ole Miss standout and former NFL quarterback but more commonly known as father to two future hall of fame NFL quarterbacks, Peyton and Eli Manning. The legacy their family has developed is impeccable and favorable no matter if you are football fan or not. From playing peewee football to my days playing college football as an Eagle, I aspired to carry myself like a Manning. Their presence in the NFL has been nothing short of record breaking, jaw dropping and inspirational. Having their personal lives continually picked over by outsiders, the Mannings have never failed to embody effective leadership, class and dignity.

With a once in a lifetime opportunity right in front of me, I wanted to be the very first person in line to hear Mr. Manning. I was notified through the Office of Student Leadership and Civic Engagement that there was going to be an essay submission contest to have dinner with Mr. Manning. Mind you, I never win anything but I still had to try regardless. Well sure enough, I ended up winning! I had led my way to meeting a man that I admire so much.

The night began by meeting my fellow peers also selected and the executives of the university in the President’s Dining Room. It was as formal as formal can be but we all were dressed to impress so it was perfect. Shortly after we arrived, Mr. Manning did as well. We were all able to have our photos taken by the university photographer.

We then were served a three-course steak dinner where Dr. Deal served as the moderator for our questions. Mr. Manning conversed with us all carrying on with personal stories of family life and the keys to his success on and off the football field. This was truly a unique and unforgettable opportunity. Upon finishing dinner, we were all escorted by police escort to Hanner Fieldhouse. The first row was reserved for us. Throughout Mr. Manning’s speech he referred to our group and it felt special.

“Sometimes in life success is really a journey and not a destination and setting goals is part of that journey, so set a goal,” Mr. Manning said. The overall theme to his speech revolved around being an effective leader and overcoming adversity. Through personal issues with his dad taking his life in college to his NFL playing days on some of the worst teams there were, he’s always remained humbled.

My advice to you after hearing and speaking with Mr. Manning is to simply dream big. We are in a time our lives where so many doors are opening and so few doors closing. Pursue your interests, give it your best effort and at the end of the day you can rest easy. Setbacks will follow but overcoming them is what makes a leader unique and special. As Mr. Manning said, “Don’t get bitter, get better.”