The Manning Passing Academy is in Thibodaux this week, and I have to tell ‘ya — covering that thing never … ever gets old!
It feels like when the Manning Family is in town, crazy things happen in the world of sports — events which dominate the news cycle and put the eyes of the sporting world right here in our area.
So before we get back out to Thibodaux and cover the camp again, we decided this week to look back at some of the most memorable things that have happened in our time covering the prestigious local event.
Here are our top 5 Manning Camp stories.
What happens at Manning Camp stays at Manning Camp … or something like that.
This week, there will likely be some new memories made. There always are.
No. 5 - The sights, the sounds, the celebrities
This isn’t a specific story, per se, but the Manning Passing Academy is loaded with a who’s who of football glory. In my history covering the camp in Thibodaux, I’ve been blessed to meet and converse with Peyton, Eli, Cooper and Archie Manning, as well as analysts Charles Davis and Chris Mortensen, esteemed head coach Jon Gruden and famous quarterbacks Andrew Luck, Dak Prescott, Matthew Stafford, Tim Tebow, Sam Bradford, Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota and many, many more that I’m surely forgetting. You truly never know who’s going to walk through those doors when the Manning Boys come to town. It’s a shame they do not allow media members to collect autographs, because man, I’d have an entire eBay store full of things to sell if they did. But then again, that’s probably why they don’t allow autographs to begin with.
No. 4 - Is he hurt or can he go?
It was interesting watching Peyton Manning battle injuries throughout his playing career. In 2011, Manning did next to nothing while recovering from the neck injury which sidelined him for the entire season. Even in 2012, Manning was slowed, but back out on the field with his guys helping to instruct the camp. After the neck injury, he was still an amazing player, sure. But a lot of the zip he once had in his passes was gone. You could see his arm slowly fading over time — eventually giving way to Father Time.
No. 3 - The Drew Brees Situation
It was 2012, the Manning Passing Academy was in town and Saints fans were nervous as heck. Drew Brees had issued a deadline to hash out a new contract with the Saints before training camp. If unsigned, Brees was prepared to hold out training camp and maybe even preseason or regular season games. In the middle of the Manning Passing Academy, news broke that Brees had signed a $100 million deal to end his possible holdout and remain with the team. A slew of the national reporting was done from Thibodaux and it was neat to see ESPN reporting live from the campus of Nicholls State University. The Saints fans on campus were in full-on parade mode once news got out that Brees was staying.
No. 2 - Will they stay or will they go now?
Locally, we take the Manning Passing Academy a bit for granted because they’ve been here so long. But the camp could exist anywhere and be equally successful. In 2013, there were whispers that the camp could go elsewhere. Indiana was a rumored destination, as well as other facilities around the Southeast. But during media day festivities, then-Gov. Bobby Jindal showed up and announced a state investment into the camp, which included boosted drainage to Nicholls’ grass fields to give the camp more space. Gov. Jindal said the reason for the funding was because the Manning Passing Academy is an economic engine locally. He’s right. Several experts estimate that the camp brings millions of dollars to the local economy each year in the form of hotel rooms, restaurant expenses and other areas.
No. 1 - Johnny Friggen Football Invades Thibodaux
So, there was this one time that Johnny Manziel came to Thibodaux for the Manning Passing Academy … and got kicked out of the event before the weekend ended. In 2013, Manziel was one of the camp’s counselors — an easy choice because Johnny Football tossed for 3,706 yards and ran for 1,410 more in 2012 en route to winning the Heisman Trophy. The media — local and national — lined up to speak to Manziel during the Friday morning interviews, but Manziel was nowhere to be found. Turns out, he apparently overslept meetings and responsibilities for the camp and was sent home. Numerous social media videos and posts showed Manziel partying in the city of Thibodaux leading up to his no-show, which led to wide-spread speculation that those extracurricular activities led to his being sent him early. Manziel has since opened up about the incident, stating that it was a miscommunication between he and organizers at the event. That’s a little bit hard to believe, but man, that was a wild day in Thibodaux! •