Cooper Manning may not be as famous as his brothers Peyton and Eli, but the eldest brother is the one in the spotlight this week thanks to a new documentary.
Cooper takes a central role in The Book of Manning, an ESPN documentary that delves into the family’s football-rich history. The story shows how New Orleans Saints quarterback Archie Manning shaped his sons into star football quarterbacks who have now won three Super Bowls and made 15 Pro Bowl appearances.
The documentary was originally supposed to feature Archie in a lead role, but the former quarterback changed his mind. That’s when Cooper stepped 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.”
The Book of Manning offers some rare footage of Peyton, Eli, and Cooper as youngsters. There’s one scene where a young Peyton yells at Cooper for taking what he thought was a dirty hit, reminiscent of the hard-nosed quarterback he’s become today.
The documentary also covers some of the more difficult times, like the spinal condition that ended the collegiate career of Cooper Manning. Many believed that Cooper would also be headed to the NFL, but he didn’t seem to be too crushed when his dreams came to an end.
“I feel pretty lucky to have two brothers to cheer for every Sunday,” Cooper said in the days leading up to Peyton’s second Super Bowl. “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 fact that I have brothers who have been involved in three of the last four Super Bowls is hard to put into words.”
Cooper Manning said his own family has now come full circle. His two boys, Arch and Heid, are taking after Peyton and Eli when it comes to competition.
“I’m reliving my dad’s life,” Cooper Manning said. “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.”
Cooper Manning can be seen along with Eli, Peyton, and Archie in The Book of Manning, which debuts Tuesday on ESPN.