Cooper Manning could have joined his younger brothers Peyton and Eli in the NFL, but a rare medical condition ended his playing days and forced the eldest son of Archie Manning to find another path to success.
Long before Peyton was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts and Eli was beating Tom Brady for two Super Bowl rings, their older brother Cooper was excelling on the football field. As a top high school prospect, many believed Cooper Manning had a path to the NFL, but a rare spinal injury ended his dreams.
Today Cooper has found a different path than his brothers, working for the energy firm Howard Weil as an energy broker. Though he may not be as well-known as his brothers and has never starred in a commercial, Cooper has still managed to rise to the top of his field.
Cooper Manning stole a bit of the spotlight from his famous brothers earlier this year when ESPN aired the documentary The Book of Manning. The program focused on how former New Orleans Saints quarterback Archie Manning shaped his sons into football stars who have won a combined three Super Bowl rings and made 15 Pro Bowl appearances.
Archie was originally supposed to take a lead role in the documentary, but after he changed his mind Cooper Manning decided to step in.
“Dad initially did some stuff and then decided he just didn’t want to do it and put it on hold,” Cooper Manning told For The Win. “(Filmmaker) Rory (Karpf) 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.”
Cooper Manning had a chance to be as famous as his brothers Peyton and Eli. At age 18 he was one of the most sought-after high school football players, a 6-foot-4 wide receiver who had just committed to Ole Miss. But he was diagnosed with a spinal condition that forced him to give up football entirely.
Cooper said though his own NFL dreams came to an end, he still revels in watching his brothers play every week.