This Is What Putting Them First Looks Like

For his whole career, Archie Manning had been a company man for the New Orleans Saints. He was great but the team was terrible. For years, they had lost. For years, he had endured poor offensive lines, poor drafting and never even coming close to contention. 

So you’d think it would have been a second wind for his career to be traded to Houston and then to the Vikings. He still had years left in him, a real shot of being part—finally—of a winning team. But instead, in 1984, he retired.


His son Eli.

“I sensed that my relationship wasn’t quite the same with Eli that it had been with Cooper and Peyton at that age,” Manning explained in the book My First Coach: Inspiring Stories of NFL Quarterbacks and Their Dads. “Eli was kind of shy anyway and it might have been a little harder for Eli to warm up to you. I was gone and I didn’t like it at all. I remember that was one of the real joys for me when I retired that I would be home, I would be around full-time for Eli, get that relationship that I had with Cooper and Peyton because it was a good one.” 

We’ve talked about putting your kids first—indeed, that’s the first law of Stoic parenting. But what does that actually look like? It looks like what Manning did. He walked away from his career. He hung it up early. Not because his wife demanded it, not because his son was arrested, but because he could sense that not being around enough was having an impact on young Eli. That’s what great parenting looks like, what true greatness—on and off the field—looks like.

Would anyone have noticed two more seasons with the Vikings? Maybe. Maybe not. You know who definitely noticed and benefited from having his dad around? Eli.

The same goes for your family.

P.S. This was originally sent on December 16, 2020. Sign up today for the Daily Dad’s email and get our popular 11 page eBook, “20 Things Great Dads Do Everyday.”

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