Mannings named Paul “Bear” Bryant Heart of a Champion Award recipients

Published 1:43 pm Wednesday, October 11, 2023

The American Heart Association’s Paul “Bear” Bryant Awards has named football legend Archie Manning and his wife, “First Lady of Football” Olivia, as recipients of the 2024 Paul “Bear” Bryant Heart of a Champion Award, presented by Houston-based St. Luke’s Health.

The Heart of a Champion Award recognizes individuals whose notable contributions and positive influence have helped define the ways we enjoy, watch and engage in sports, and whose life exemplifies characteristics for which Coach Bryant was known, including integrity, perseverance, determination and grit.

“Receiving the Bear Bryant Lifetime Achievement Award, alongside my incredible wife Olivia, is a humbling and cherished moment for us,” said Archie Manning. “This recognition goes beyond the touchdowns and victories—it speaks to a lifetime of shared dedication, perseverance and a commitment to making a positive impact in our community. We accept it with gratitude and a deep sense of responsibility to continue the legacy of service and excellence that defines the Bear Bryant spirit.”

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The American Heart Association, a global force for healthier lives for all, presents this award annually to celebrate Coach Bear Bryant’s legacy and raise awareness and critical funds for research to eradicate cardiovascular disease and stroke, leading causes of death globally. The football coaching legend died from a heart attack in 1983, just 28 days after his final victory and retirement.  

Archie Manning’s legacy took root at the University of Mississippi, where he commanded the role of starting quarterback for three consecutive seasons from 1968 to 1970. Gaining national headlines and recognition as an All-Southeastern Conference (SEC) selection in both 1969 and 1970, Archie embarked on a historic professional journey, becoming the second overall pick in the 1971 National Football League Draft and earning the starting quarterback position for the New Orleans Saints. Over the course of 10 seasons with the Saints, he etched his mark in football history. His professional career extended beyond New Orleans, playing parts of two seasons for the Houston Oilers and a season and a half with the Minnesota Vikings.

Archie’s on-field prowess earned him many accolades, including induction into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame, the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and the College Football Hall of Fame. Off the field, Archie’s contributions to his community are equally legendary, a commitment highlighted in 2007 when he received the Silver Buffalo Award from the national Boy Scouts of America—an accolade recognizing exceptional service to youth on a nationwide scale.

The Manning family narrative extends beyond the gridiron. Olivia Manning – Archie’s wife and mother to famous sons Cooper, Peyton and Eli Manning – has spent a lifetime dedicating herself to charitable endeavors. Serving as a board member for Lounge Vue House Gardens, a New Orleans landmark and community outreach center, Olivia extended her support to the Red Cross Women of the Storm and became a steadfast advocate for the American Heart Association, notably contributing to the local Go Red for Women campaign.

In collaboration with her husband, Olivia created the Manning Family Fund, a resource committed to fostering a healthier Mississippi. Together, the Manning family continues to lead by example, setting a pace that blends the twin strengths of sports achievement and excellence with a profound commitment to community through philanthropy.

ESPN College GameDay host and former coach Lee Corso received the inaugural Heart of a Champion Award in 2020, followed by former Mississippi State football coach Sylvester Croom in 2021, former Stanford University coach David Shaw in 2022 and former Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio in 2023.

The Heart of a Champion Award is one of five honors presented annually during the Bear Bryant Awards Ceremony, presented this year by Marathon Oil, on Jan. 10, 2024 in Houston. In addition to Heart of a Champion, awards will also be bestowed for Lifetime Achievement, Fan Favorite, the Newcomer Coach of the Year and the 2023 Paul “Bear” Bryant Coach of the Year.

Fans can follow the action at, or or the hashtag #BryantAwards. To attend the exclusive, VIP experience visit