Cooper Manning Story Central to Manning Documentary

    September 24, 2013
    Emily Greene
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We’ve all heard of Peyton and Eli Manning (If you haven’t, you must be a hermit living in a cave somewhere. And if that’s true and you’re reading this, you must have some AMAZING WiFi.), but what about their eldest brother Cooper?

In an upcoming documentary, The Book of Manning, director Rory Karpf wanted to show the world the football talent of Archie Manning. During a conference call, Archie said, “Oh, the years fly by, that’s just natural. You know, if it wasn’t for Peyton and Eli coming along, nobody would know who I was. Maybe a few people in Mississippi, a few old people. I never worry much about that. I always had kind of a philosophy, I really enjoyed playing. Gosh, I loved playing.”

We also get a glimpse of the lives of the Manning family, also known as the first family of football. We see home videos and hear from many people, including father Archie, mother Olivia, Peyton, Eli, and the brother we know the least about, Cooper.

Cooper was also quite the football player himself. As an All-State High School wide receiver, many thought he would be on his way to the NFL, but a spinal condition ended his football career. Cooper’s condition, spinal stenosis, and the end of his football days isn’t something he talks about often. “Historically I haven’t really talked about that a lot. Rory caught me on a weak day. We had talked for a long time during that interview session and he got to me a little bit. I’ve always tried to downplay the whole surgery and injury and just wanted to get back to normal. This was the one time I guess you got the full scoop,” said Cooper.

Though his condition may have ended one dream, it hasn’t bothered the eldest Manning. Cooper is a partner in a New Orleans energy investment firm, and enjoys watching his brother’s play on Sundays. Cooper said, “I’m just a proud brother and I just adore watching them play football. It’s far less about me and is more about me being proud of them and loving them and being a part of it. I often wonder what my Sundays are going to be like when they’re no longer playing. I really appreciate the times right now.”

The eldest Manning has a family of his own, a wife and three children to be precise, and he’s taking a cue from his father Archie. “I’m reliving my dad’s life. We’re doing the same things. Pickup games, throwing amazing catches. They’re playing flag football and I’m out there filming it. I’m trying to use my dad’s fatherly advice as a template how not to screw up my kids,” said Cooper.

If Twitter has anything to say about the documentary, Cooper Manning steals the show.

Cooper’s role in the documentary is just as important as that of his brother’s, and father Archie is happy about that. Said Archie, “I think one thing I like so much about the documentary is that Cooper’s role in there is equal to Peyton and Eli’s and that’s the way it should be. His story of his athletic career being cut short, and then what he went through with the laminectomy and so forth, I can’t tell you how uplifting it was for our family to see how he handled that. He’s always had a great spirit, but the spirit he had to get through that and the way he dealt with it, his attitude, certainly helped all us get through a tough time.”

It seems the documentary almost didn’t happen though. Cooper told USA TODAY Sports, “Dad initially did some stuff and then decided he just didn’t want to do it and put it on hold. (Filmmaker) Rory (Karp) almost had a heart attack when he found that out, but then my mother was really the driver to get Dad back and say, ‘Let’s pursue it.’ I think she felt that their grandchildren needed to see a side of him and some of the details they wouldn’t see otherwise. My mom is to blame for reigniting the whole project.”

The documentary, which airs Tuesday on ESPN, will give insight into what shaped Archie’s personal and professional life. Some of which are dark times that no person should have to go through, such as Cooper’s spinal condition and Archie’s father’s suicide.

You can watch a clip of the documentary in the video below.

Image via YouTube.

  • Winston

    Ironically, I had two older brothers and we were not that dissimilar to the Manning boys when we were growing up. I was the youngest so I got picked on alot too…and cried alot because I was “the baby”. We were small so we didn’t play football or basketball… baseball was our game and all three of us were good players. The oldest played on a JC baseball team and went to the Junior College World Series. He broke his elbow throwing the ball so hard as a “little” pitcher. My middle brother played High School baseball his senior year and lettered. I played on organized city and county teams and was an All-Star with a tremendously good batting average. That was our youth. As adults we went in different directions and grew apart… spiritually and geographically… seldom seeing each other.

  • Christa

    I enjoyed this documentary about the Mannings so much that I’ve watched it three times now… and I’m not the biggest sports fan- really only watch SEC/NCAA games and national championship games. I’m a BIG AUBURN FAN (WAR DAMN EAGLE). Have always admired (and enjoyed looking at) Peyton Manning. Never knew he and Eli had an older brother I’m ashamed to admit. Also never watched any old footage of Archie play at ‘Ol Miss until this doc- he is/was awesome !! Peyton is a great little comedian- cracked me up when he did Saturday Night Live. Anyway, they are an all-around great/talented family. Great to see that closeness they have.

    I’m a firm believer that good things can/do come from tragedy, and I think that unfortunately, Archie losing his dad to suicide while at ‘Ol Miss seems to have greatly contributed to him becoming such a great dad and upstanding guy. The Mannings are truly blessed !!

  • http://jeffonlineblog.wordpress.com Jeff

    That was really well done, unfortunately for me I had to stay up until 3am to watch it till the end, but I don’t think it explained why Peyton decided to play at Tennessee of all places.