Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Archie Manning, others compete in local golf tournament

GREENVILLE – Archie Manning was pretty reliable on the football field, earning College Football Hall of Fame honors and two Pro Bowl selections while playing for the New Orleans Saints in the late 1970s.
The father of the NFL’s most well-known brothers, Peyton and Eli Manning, isn’t in the football realm anymore, but he’s coming through in the clutch in a totally different demeanor.
Before Monday afternoon, Archie had traveled to town for 26 out of the 28 annual Jesse Brent – Merrick Jones Memorial Golf Tournament’s.
Monday morning, he arrived at the Greenville Golf & Country Club for his 27th scramble.
“I was fortunate to come to the first (tournament),” said Manning, whose oldest son Cooper also took part in the event.
Manning said unlike other comparable events, each year the tournament seems to grow substantially.
“It’s hard (for tournaments) to last,” he said. “You can keep doing something and it kind of wears out. But nothing’s ever faded here.”
But Manning wasn’t the only recognizable face in the crowd at the tournament, which this year also honored Bernie Goldstein, a former 40-year vet at Alter Companies and casino businessman, who died last year.
Legendary Delta State coach and Boston Red Sox Hall of Famer Dave “Boo” Ferriss, former NFL receiver and Greenville native Willie Richardson, former Mississippi State great and NBA Hall of Famer Bailey Howell, MSU Athletic Director Scott Stricklin and others were on hand for the event.
Although Manning has been out to 27 of the 29 tournaments, he’s still one step behind the “Old Ball Coach.”
“I’ve been out to 28 of the 29,” said Ferriss.
The tournament, which will donate all of its proceeds to various causes including cancer research, is able to succeed because of the generous people in and outside the Delta, said Jesse Brent’s granddaughter and tournament committee member Jessica Brent.
“This makes me proud that a little town like Greenville can put on something like this,” she said. “Last year we raised over $75,000, in one day. So I just think about that and the good causes that we’re supporting: cancer research, mariners – people on the water, rivers and oceans that make their living that way, we’ve given to veterans in the past. There are a lot of good causes out there. It just inspires me to keep going. Next year will be 30 years.”
Willie Richardson, a Greenville native who played nine seasons for the Baltimore Colts and Miami Dolphins, said the tournament serves as a way to catch up with old friends while benefiting a worthy cause.
“I think the most important and exciting thing is coming out to Greenville Country Club, said Richardson, a 10-year tournament vet who now runs a golf course in Jackson. “When I was 13 or 14, I used to come out and caddy and make a little money on weekends. It’s bring backs some old memories. I get a chance to see some old coaches, friends I haven’t seen in years.”
Richardson also talked about the possibility to holding football camps in the area in the future.
“I talked with some guys from Greenville,” he said, “and told them we need to come back to hold football camps, basketball camps and get the kids involved in some things we didn’t when we were growing up here. Because they need to realize that can do things here and move on to bigger things from here.”

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