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Football runs in the Manning family.
Archie and Olivia Manning raised their three sons, Peyton, Eli and Cooper Manning, in New Orleans while their father completed his NFL career. The boys all took up football at their local high school, with Cooper later suffering from a medical complication just before beginning his first collegiate season.
Peyton was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts in 1998 before he was traded to the Denver Broncos. Eli, meanwhile, was drafted in 2004 and ended up playing for the New York Giants. Though both brothers have since retired, they haven't left football behind completely.
These days, the brothers settled down and started families. Fans can regularly see them on television, hosting events, commentating on football games and being the spokespeople for various businesses.
From their childhood in Louisiana to their football success, here’s everything to know about the Manning brothers.
They grew up in Louisiana
Their father, Archie, who was originally from Mississippi, moved his family to New Orleans. He played for the New Orleans Saints and the family continued to reside in the city after his NFL career ended.
The home where they grew up in the Garden District has become a spot for tourists to explore. The fence even reads “Champion” on it.
“It’s the house of champions. People come from all over the world to see the Manning house,” Dave Roberts with Historic New Orleans Tours told local ABC affiliate WGNO. “A lot of people in the Garden District saw the Manning’s grow up from little boys. They are a wonderful family."
Cooper, meanwhile, revealed to Town and Country that he is a local foodie. Some of his favorites and staple restaurants include Clancy’s, Irene’s Cuisine, Caribbean Room and Domilise's Po-boys.
"Make a local friend and go to their house for a crawfish boil,” he said of the best tip for visitors to the city. “In the spring, New Orleanians boil crawfish in the front or backyard and the smell of the spices and the food is just delicious. Corn, potatoes, mushrooms, onions, garlic — you name it. It is the absolute best. In a world of competitive eating, I'd likely win in a crawfish boil competition or come really close!"
Eli and Peyton played football professionally
With Archie parenting his sons, there was no doubt that they would try out football. For Archie, he didn’t want to push the sport on his kids.
"I wanted to be there for them and support them," Archie explained to NPR. "I felt like if I pushed these kids into sports, I thought that'd backfire on me."
Peyton played quarterback for the University of Tennessee between 1994 and 1997. He achieved 11,201 yards and 89 touchdowns in the four seasons. Peyton was the No. 1 pick during the 1998 NFL Draft by the Indianapolis Colts.
He played for the Colts between 1998 and 2011 before being traded to the Denver Broncos in 2012. He officially retired on Mar. 7, 2016. During his illustrious career, he achieved 539 touchdowns and 71,940 yards. He won two Super Bowls and won a game against all 32 NFL teams.
Eli, for his part, attended the University of Mississippi, where he was the quarterback between 2000 and 2003. During his collegiate career, he achieved 81 touchdowns and a total of 10,119 yards.
In the 2004 NFL draft, he was the number one overall pick and was selected by the San Diego Chargers, however, he did not want to play for them so they traded him to the New York Giants. Between 2004 and 2006 he was the team’s starting quarterback. In total, he played for 16 seasons on the team with 366 touchdowns and threw 57,023 yards. He achieved 2 Super Bowl MVP awards, 2 championships and even won the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award. He officially retired on Jan. 24, 2020.
"It's such a great feeling in that locker room when you win games," Eli told NOLA of his NFL experience. "You want everybody to experience that. You want those guys who haven't won a championship to get that feeling also. That means so much to your family and everybody who has been a part of your football career, from your high school coaches to your college coaches. When you win a championship, everybody wins."
Cooper once played football
Cooper was actually the first Manning brother to play football. He played the sport while attending Isidore Newman School as an All-State wide receiver. At the age of 18, he was headed to Ole Miss to play football. Before he got the chance to enter his freshman season, he began suffering from numbness in his hand and fingers in addition to atrophy in his right bicep.
His family took him to Mayo Clinic where he underwent tests before doctors diagnosed him with spinal stenosis, which is the narrowing of the spinal canal. His diagnosis made it impossible for him to continue to play the sport.
"When they took football away from me, I never took it out on the game,” Cooper told USA Today. “I really never had any bitterness. I just said, this is the hand I'm dealt and I'm going to play it. I don't know if I have it down pat yet, but I'm having fun trying."
"He's done a lot better than Peyton or I could have done with it," Eli told the outlet of the injury and hardship leaving the sport. "I try to put myself in his shoes, and that would have been hard to take. I've never heard him have a regret or bitterness or any complaints."
Archie told Forbes that the situation was a “real blessing and maybe somewhat of a miracle,” what his son went through. Eli and Peyton got evaluated and did not have the same stenosis.
Peyton and Eli are retired
Peyton officially retired from football on Mar. 7, 2016. He said in an NFL press conference that he didn’t make his decision until after he went on vacation with his family and later a hunting trip with former Colts teammate Jeff Saturday. He admitted that he "thought about it a lot” and prayed about it, but knew that it was “just the right time."
"I fought a good fight," Manning added. "I finished my football race, and after 18 years, it's time. God bless all of you, and God bless football."
On Jan. 24, 2020, Eli retired from the NFL after 16 seasons with the New York Giants. Although Eli would go on to work on numerous football-related and general media projects, he was most excited to spend more time with his family.
“I don’t think I need to make public comments for my family to know how I think about them,” Eli said at a press conference announcing his retirement, “but Abby, and to Ava and Lucy and Caroline and Charlie, you are my rock.”
“I look forward to a little downtime; I look forward to a little time with my family,” he concluded.
The brothers are married
Cooper met Ellen Heidingsfelder in the early 90s, and the couple later wed in 1999. Cooper told The Dallas Morning News that they wanted to be “treated normal,” and not have a lot of fanfare in their lives.
Peyton met his future bride Ashley Manning (née Thompson) after being introduced through Ashley’s parents’ next-door neighbor. The couple kept their engagement a secret, so it was a surprise to fans when the pair announced that they tied the knot on March 17, 2001.
Abby donned a strapless white gown with gold embellishments while carrying white roses. They each had six bridesmaids and six groomsmen and kept the ceremony private with only close family and friends in attendance. The pair later adopted a King Charles Cavalier named Chester together before starting their family.
They started families of their own
Cooper and Ellen welcomed their children May, Arch and Heid.
Arch played quarterback at his father’s old high school, Isidore Newman School, while Heid plays center on the team.
Ashley gave birth to her and Peyton’s fraternal twins, son Marshall Williams and daughter Mosley Thompson, on March 31, 2011.
Eli and Abby share three daughters, Ava, Lucy and Caroline and their son, Charles. The family resides in Summit, New Jersey together.
“Peyton’s got three-year-old twins, a girl and a boy, and we trade funny stories and we’ll send each other funny pictures or videos of one doing something entertaining,” Eli told Parade of their family’s relationship. “We don’t only talk about football! We talk about things that go on in each other’s lives and a lot of those stories now involve our kids.”
Peyton, Eli, Cooper and their father Archie are regularly in the media
Although the Manning men have all retired from football, they have all appeared in numerous forms of media together. Archie and his three sons have appeared in numerous Caesars Sportsbook commercials over the years. The Manning brothers have also appeared in commercials for Oreos, Gatorade, NBC, SportsCenter, Frito Lay, DirecTV and even a reading PSA for youth.
In 2022, Eli and Peyton teamed up for NFL’s Play Football campaign to promote the league’s youth program, which was a special collaboration for the pair.
"Growing up in New Orleans and watching my dad play for the Saints, I have always been a fan of the game of football," Peyton told the NFL of the meaning behind the collaboration. "Throughout my many years playing, I enjoyed everything that I learned from the sport, and I want to share that with as many people as possible, especially young players. This 'NFL Play Football' initiative allows me to be a part of something that will impact the future of the game so kids can fall in love with the game the way I did."
Additionally, Cooper was able to use his vast football knowledge to host and commentate for Fox’s NFL Kickoff and The Manning Hour on Fox Sports.
They work together
The brothers work together on co-hosting ESPN’s ManningCast. The show features Peyton and Eli commentating and analyzing plays, along with inviting guest commentators on the show. Cooper and Peyton also co-hosted NBC's Capital One College Bowl.
"I didn't know a job existed where I could sit on my own couch, watch football and make fun of my brother, but I'm happy it does," Eli told CBS News. Peyton added, "It's conversations, taking shots at each other and analyzing certain plays that, you know, the people sitting around us might, you know, think it's pretty interesting.”
The father and three sons also have an annual tradition of coming together for the Manning Passing Academy. The two-week camp gives the football pros the chance to work with high school players to improve their game.
"It's a great chance for me to be with Eli, Cooper, and my dad,” Peyton told local NBC affiliate WTHR. “We stay in the dorm with the kids, we have our own rooms, but we're right there in the middle of it. It's great for me to be with my family two weeks before training camp and you know, it's fun for me to talk football and teach these kids some of the things that I've learned from some of the great coaches I've had.”
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