You can thank Olivia for Book of Manning
If you watch and enjoy ESPN’s Book of Manning, which airs tonight, know that you have somebone to thank perhaps even more than filmmaker Rory Karpf.
She would be Olivia Manning, Archie Manning’s wife and the mother of Cooper, Peyton and Eli.
She made it happen.
“I’ll be honest with you, I was very reluctant to do it at first and then I nixed it,” Archie Manning said today. “This was after Rory had already started on it and I had so much on my plate and Peyton was going through his surgery and then rehab.
“I just decided not to do it and I called Rory and told him I was going to take a pass.”
And that was that, or so Karpf thought.
A couple weeks later, Olivia Manning asked her husband, “How’s that ESPN thing going?”
“It’s not going,” Archie answered. “I decided not to do it.”
To which Olivia replied, “Call ’em back. You are going to do this. Your grandchildren need to see this. This is something your really need to do.”
Archie, today: “My wife doesn’t put her foot down on many things, but when she does, I listen. I called them back and we re-started the process.”
Book of Manning has had two public screenings, one of at Ole Miss and the other at Mannings, Archie Manning’s New Orleans restaurant/sports bar.
“I’ve been pleased with the response,” Archie said. “I wasn’t comfortable with doing it, because I didn’t want it to center on me. I don’t have much of an ego. You play for the New Orleans Saints 12 years back during the time I did, you don’t have much of an ego. But I’m glad we did it. Everybody who has watched seems to like it.”
Says the North Carolina-based Karpf, “I’m happy with it if viewers are happy with it. Archie and Olivia seem to like it.
“Let me put it this way, I took it as a privilege to tell Archie’s story in a way that the story had never been told before, certainly not in this long a format,” Karpf added.
Karpf says a huge thread in the story is Archie’s relationship with his father, Buddy Manning, who took his own life prior to Archie’s junior season at Ole Miss.
“At it’s core, it’s a film about how Archie’s relationship with his father and his father’s death shaped the relationship he had with his sons,” Karpf says. “Archie was very open about it.”
Much of the camerawork, Karpf says, comes from Archie and Olivia themselves, from old home movies of when their boys were young.
“You know with most professional sports stars, the athletes, themselves, are the center of their family’s life,” Karpf says. “In the Mannings’ case, the boys were the center of everything. Archie and Olivia made sure of that.”
They did. It is a story I’ve written often before but when Archie Manning was traded from the Saints to the Houston Oilers, he often took a plane back to New Orleans after practice to eat dinner with his sons and tuck them in.
You can’t make that kind of stuff up and Rory Karpf didn’t have to in the Book of Manning.