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Here's part of a profile on former Ole Miss football player and now successful businessman Billy Van Devender, who was college teammates and roommates with Archie Manning. The full story, as well as the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation website, is linked below.

At the premiere of the ESPN Films documentary "The Book of Manning," Billy Van Devender shared a special moment with former roommate and good friend Archie Manning. 

In partnership with Ole Miss athletics, the Van Devender and Manning families made significant contributions to the Forward Together campaign to rename the indoor football practice facility the Olivia and Archie Manning Athletics Performance Center.

"It was very emotional," Van Devender said. "My wife, Mollie, and I were there, and my children were there. Archie and Olivia did not know that it was going to be named after them. They walked in the room, and there were a lot of moist eyes in the room. Everybody was excited and emotionally charged. They were very appreciative of it. It's a great tribute to them. 

"I've always believed that, 'to whom much is given, much is expected.' Everyone says they want to give back, and that's what I'm trying to do here. I feel strongly that we have the right leadership at Ole Miss, and I know that head football coach Hugh Freeze is not only interested in winning football games, but he's genuinely interested in the student-athletes who we're recruiting and playing football. He wants them to be good examples and good citizens when they leave Ole Miss."

Full StoryGiveToAthletics.com

Book Of Manning Premieres In Oxford

Family and football. Fathers and sons. A scrapbook of memories, which come alive on the screen through home video, game footage and candid, personal interviews with members of the Manning family and those whose lives they touched.


It was a special night in Oxford, as the ESPN Films documentary, The Book of Manning, premiered Friday at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts on the Ole Miss campus. The event also raised $100,000 to benefit the Friends of Children's Hospital, which supports the Blair E. Batson Hospital for children.


"I'm really honored to be here and flattered that Ole Miss wanted to make an event out of this," Archie said of the premiere. "I'm excited that the benefactor will be Batson Children's Hospital in Jackson, which is part of the University Medical Center. It's going to raise a lot of money for them and help the sick children of Mississippi get well and get home.


"We are really flattered and indebted for the turnout that we had. We're always glad to be on campus and be around the Ole Miss family, so it's a great night for us."


Earlier in the day, Ole Miss Director of Athletics, Ross Bjork, announced the "building phase" of the Forward Together Campaign, and later at the film's premiere, it was also announced that Ole Miss Athletics will name the newly renovated Indoor Practice Facility the Olivia and Archie Manning Athletics Performance Center.


"Unbelievable," Archie said of the facilities. "The meeting room, the dining facility, the dressing room, the weight room. I saw SEC Commissioner Mike Slive and said we have got it going here. What we have here is Alabama-type stuff, and what they have been able to accomplish is the paramount thing in our conference right now. We have some great facilities."


MY TAKE ON THE FILM: The Book of Manning is a special tribute to a special family, which follows the Mannings through both their prosperity and adversity, from Archie's father, Elisha, to Archie, to Archie's three sons, Cooper, Peyton and Eli. 


It strikes a balance between their respective personal and professional lives, and their relationships, as the most powerful moments of the film are interviews with them talking about one another. And, other than video of Eli's verbal commitment to Ole Miss, what drew the most reaction was home video of football games in the Manning backyard. 


All of the games and moments you expect are in the film, such as Eli's commitment mentioned above, with context and supported by photos, videos and interviews. And each of their respective stories, all their own, is given careful attention, both individually and as part of the Manning family.


In the end, the story comes full circle and leaves you with a satisfied feeling of completeness, with Eli winning a January bowl game at Ole Miss more than 30 years after his father, Archie, did just the same.


The film premieres on Tuesday, Sept. 24, at 7 p.m. CT on ESPN.

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