Cooper Manning, the older brother of two of the NFL’s most famous QBs, Peyton and Eli, had to shelve his football dreams before starting college. He has now opened up for the first time about the pain he has felt from that, but says that he lives his football dreams vicariously through his brothers, specifically Peyton, whom he had practiced with often.
Cooper was the first son born to the football legend, Archie Manning, in 1974 – he was soon followed by brothers Peyton, in 1976, and Eli, in 1981. In high school Cooper was an all-state wide receiver who was set to play college ball at his father’s alma mater, Ole Miss. Before he ever got the chance to start, however, Cooper was forced to quit the game altogether.
While training for his college career, the eldest Manning son began to experience numbness and the loss of motor skill in his right arm. Upon visiting the Mayo Clinic with his father, Cooper was diagnosed with a condition called spinal stenosis. The injury usually causes the same symptoms to develop in individuals around age 64, more than four-times Cooper’s age.
At 18, Cooper returned to Mississippi to tell his friends and coaches he had to quit the sport forever – or else risk losing his arm permanently. In a documentary ESPN aired about Archie and his three sons, The Book of Manning, Cooper became openly teary recalling the event, but remained ever the optimist.
“I feel pretty lucky to have two brothers to cheer for every Sunday,” Manning told the Daily News. “I’m not a jealous guy. I’m excited to have a little bit of skin in the game here. My glass is full as it is. I’m a happy camper.” The father of three daughters then said, “The fact that I have brothers who have been involved in three of the last four Super Bowls is hard to put into words.”
Cooper hasn’t done too bad for himself, however; he was estimated by Celebrity Networth to be worth an estimated $15 million, due to his role of a co-owner in the energy investing firm, Howard Weil.
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