ESPN’s 30 for 30 Tuesday Night features (OK technically last night was an SEC Storied program) not only do a great job filling in for a boring Tuesday night of sports, they also provide an inside look into the lives of sports figures we witness everyday. Last night The Book of Manning took us through the Manning family photo album, revealing details on the first family of football that many had never seen or heard before. Watching Peyton whine and cry as a child during backyard football games was TV gold.
Learning the Legend of Archie at Ole Miss was a new story to me, but what story is probably the most shocking to all is the story of Archie’s eldest son Cooper. Committed to play WR for Ole Miss, Cooper was the first to re-usher in a new era of Ole Miss Manning football greatness. That all changed when Cooper was diagnosed with spinal stenosis entering his freshman season of college football, ending any hopes of ever suiting up again. “One hit away from being paralyzed”, Cooper went through surgeries to aid the narrowing spinal column. The physical trauma of re-learning how to walk was just part of the difficult life-changing emotional process.
Cooper persevered, not letting the unfortunate outcome determine his life’s journey. Remembering his difficult late teens, Cooper still reaches out to guys that have been put in the same situation he was in not long ago. One of those guys is my roommate Michael Weeks. The former Scott County WR had his aspirations to play college football cut short when he was diagnosed with spinal stenosis. Shortly after his diagnosis, Weeks received this letter in the mail.
The Manning’s aren’t just great Quarterbacks, they’re great people.