- Peyton and Eli Manning recalled fighting over who got to throw with Matthew Stafford at a 2008 camp
- Stafford, then still at the University of Georgia, attended that year’s Manning Passing Academy
- The three quarterbacks bonded over the memories during an interview on Monday Night Football With Peyton and Eli
Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford has come a long way since he took the stage at the 2009 NFL Draft as a baby-faced, curly-haired quarterback holding a Detroit Lions jersey.
Nearly 15 seasons before he led the Rams to an NFC West title, Stafford attended the Manning Passing Academy ahead of his final season at the University of Georgia. That summer, he spent time with Peyton and Eli Manning and enjoyed a life-changing experience with the two star quarterbacks.
Peyton and Eli Manning had fun trading memories with Matthew Stafford on the ‘ManningCast’ earlier this season
Each summer, over 1,200 youth football players travel to Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, La., and spend four days at the Manning Passing Academy. The famous family typically enlists top active college football players as volunteer coaches.
Stafford, then entering his junior season at Georgia, attended the 2008 camp as a coach. Less than a year earlier, he completed 55.7% of his passes for 2,523 yards, 19 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions on an 11-2 Bulldogs team.
Over a decade later, the Rams quarterback reminisced about those four days with the brothers on the Sept. 27 episode of Monday Night Football With Peyton and Eli. At one point in the conversation, Peyton recalled being extremely impressed with the then-college gunslinger.
“Eli and I were arguing over who had to throw after you because you were throwing the tightest spiral. I remember you were throwing a post route, and you waited till the receiver got to like 60 yards before you threw it. For me, I’d have to hit the cut-off man to make a throw going 60 yards.”Peyton Manning
As often happens on the ManningCast, Peyton also took the opportunity to fire a shot Eli’s way.
“Eli was younger, so I said, ‘Eli, you go after Stafford because your throw is going to be very disappointing after his tight spiral,’” Peyton said.
Stafford looked back fondly on his time with the Manning brothers
When Stafford arrived at the camp in 2008, Eli and Peyton were among the toast of the NFL. Months earlier, Eli defeated the 18-0 and heavily-favored New England Patriots in Super Bowl 42. Peyton, already a two-time NFL MVP at that point, had won his first ring over a year earlier.
During the conversation, Stafford said he “had a blast” at the camp and enjoyed spending time with the two Super Bowl MVPs.
“I know that’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience for a guy like myself, getting to throw next to you guys. … I just remember pinching myself, feeling how lucky I was getting to work out with you guys.”Matthew Stafford
There was no ‘Manning curse’ to derail Stafford later that year. He finished the 2008 season with a 61.4 completion percentage, 25 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions en route to being selected atop the 2009 draft.
Rams star Cooper Kupp also has an intriguing connection with the Manning brothers and their camp
Stafford isn’t the only current Rams player with a fascinating connection to the Manning Passing Academy. Several years later, Eastern Washington receiver Cooper Kupp — whose grandfather blocked for Peyton and Eli’s father, Archie, on the New Orleans Saints — attended the camp in 2014 and 2015.
In a January 2022 interview with NBC Sports, Rams general manager Les Snead said Peyton told Eli he wanted to throw to Kupp during the 2015 camp. Kupp performed so well that day that Snead, who wasn’t sure if the receiver was a high school prospect or a college player, wrote his name down and kept an eye on his progress.
The Rams drafted Kupp in the 2017 draft’s third round and partnered him with Stafford in 2021. Kupp tallied 145 catches, 1,947 yards, and 16 touchdowns in his first season with Stafford, easily winning the NFL’s receiving Triple Crown.
In an even stranger twist, the Manning brothers were assigned to call Stafford, Kupp, and the Rams’ Wild Card Round showdown with the Arizona Cardinals. Things really do come full circle sometimes.