While professional sports has plenty of famous families, it’s hard to get bigger than the Mannings. Archie Manning got the NFL quarterback dynasty rolling in the 1970s; he then passed the torch to Peyton and Eli. You might not know, however, about Archie’s oldest son, Cooper.
Cooper Manning wasn’t a quarterback like the rest of his family, and he never made it to the NFL. He still made plenty of money, however, and has built up an estimated net worth of $15 million.
The Manning family’s football history
It’s tough enough for one person to become the starting quarterback of an NFL team. The Manning family, however, has had three members step under center.
After starring at Ole Miss, Archie Manning became the second overall pick of the 1971 NFL draft. He landed with the New Orleans Saints and spent 11 full seasons in the bayou before joining the Minneapolis Vikings. His stats are nothing to write home about—he threw for 23,911 yards with 125 touchdowns and 173 interceptions—but he didn’t get much help; he lost 101 of his 139 starts while getting sacked a brutal 396 times.
His sons, however, did a bit better in the pros. Peyton became the first overall pick of the 1998 draft after a strong college career at Tennessee; after some early struggles, he developed into one of the modern NFL’s best quarterbacks. While he was never the most mobile or athletic, he had an incredible arm and football mind, which helped him throw for almost 72,000 yards and 539 touchdowns, in addition to claiming two Super Bowl titles.
Eli played his college ball at Ole Miss before becoming the first overall pick in 2004. A draft-day trade sent him to the New York Giants, and he spent his entire career in the Big Apple. While he never was quite as dominant as Peyton, Eli still covered himself in glory, winning two Super Bowls of his own before calling it a career in January 2020.
Cooper Manning’s football career was tragically cut short
Even the most knowledgable football fans probably aren’t too familiar with Cooper Manning. While the eldest of Archie’s sons had plenty of talent, he never got to show it at the NFL level.
As documented in a Tampa Bay Times article from 2005, Cooper seemed destined to grow into a star receiver. While he had all the physical tools—he stood 6-foot-4 inches and ran a 4.7 40-yard dash—his body would eventually betray him.
Toward the end of high school, Cooper started experiencing numbness and weakness in his left hand; he was eventually diagnosed with an injured ulnar nerve and had surgery to correct the issue. In reality, though, something worse was going on.
At Ole Miss, the numbness didn’t go away, and Manning sought futher treatment. He was finally diagnosed with spinal stenosis, which manifests in a narrowing of the spine. That reality meant Cooper had to leave football behind; a single hit could leave him paralyzed for life.
Cooper Manning might not be as famous as his brothers, but he’s still worth $15 million
While Cooper Manning might have left football behind as a college freshman, that setback didn’t damage his earning power. Although he’s not making as much as a star wide receiver would, he’s still in strong financial shape.
As charted by Bloomberg in 2010, Manning found a home in the energy business. After starting out in a sales role Seismic Exchange Inc., Cooper joined up with Scotia Howard Weil; in 2016, he moved to AJ Capital Partners as the senior managing director of investor relations, as announced in Hotel Online. He’s also broken into the sports media space, appearing on Fox Sports.
According to CelebrityNetWorth, Cooper has built up an estimated fortune of $15 million. While that’s a bit short of his younger brothers, it’s not a bad haul without football.
Stats courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference