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EXCERPT | Sept.14, 1970
Ole Miss ralliedround a native son with a live arm
September 13, 2009
Entering a"red-letter year for quarterbacks," wrote William F. Reed, unassumingsenior Archie Manning was the best of them.
The phenomenon nowknown as Archie Fever began last fall when, as a junior, Manning passed and ranthe Rebels to an 8--3 record—including an upset of Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl.First red-and-blue buttons inscribed ARCHIE or ARCHIE'S ARMY blossomed likedogwood all over the Ole Miss campus in Oxford. Then some Tennessee fans cameup with ARCHIE WHO? buttons, and the craze was on. After Archie and the Rebelswiped out Tennessee 38--0 in Jackson, Ole Miss came back with YOU KNOW DAMNWELL WHO buttons. Lamont Wilson, a postal clerk in Magnolia, Miss., took thetune of Johnny Cash's Folsom Prison Blues and hastily worked up a ditty titledThe Ballad of Archie Who. The song sold 35,000 copies quicker than you canwhistle Dixie, and young Manning became a sort of instant folk hero.
Now, with Archiestarting his senior season, the fever has spread through the land. So great isthe demand for his autograph that the athletic department has made a rubberstamp of his signature and assigned a secretary to handle his mail. A fast-foodchain wanted to sell Archie Burgers, and a Memphis manufacturer tried to putout a line of Archie products—including a life-sized Archie balloon.
"I've neverseen anything like it," says Ole Miss coach Johnny Vaught. "I guessit's the times, the desire to glorify athletes. Thank goodness Archie is asensible man and hasn't let any of it go to his head."
Manning led OleMiss to a 7--4 record in 1970 and finished third in the Heisman voting, behindwinner Jim Plunkett and Joe Theismann.
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SI.com's JeffPearlman weighs in on petulant Broncos wide receiver Brandon Marshall
During a preseasonpractice Marshall walked as his teammates jogged, swatted a pass thrown his wayand punted a ball that he was supposed to hand to a ball boy. After video ofhis boorish behavior surfaced, Marshall apologized, but it was too late. Theteam suspended him for insubordination. Marshall should remember that1,000-yard wide receivers do grow on trees. For every Jerry Rice and MichaelIrvin, there are 100 other "big-game players" grasping onto a last lickof glory by working card shows and attaching their uniform number to the end oftheir e-mail address.
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