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The Third Manning

How can Cooper Manning be so well-adjusted and non-self-loathing when both his younger brothers are Super Bowl MVPs?

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Now that Cooper Manning must play big brother to not one but two Super Bowl MVPs—Peyton is the middle brother and Eli the youngest—we wondered what sort of sibling- rivalry issues are playing out in his head. Cooper was recruited to play football at Ole Miss, but once there, he was diagnosed with spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal canal that makes it impossible to play competitive sports. He’s six foot four, 33 years old, and works at Howard Weil, an energy-investment firm, in New Orleans.

Ring, ring. Howard Weil. How may I direct your call? Cooper Manning, please? Who’s calling? Um, Emma? [Silence.] Cooper here! Oh, hi, Cooper. I wasn’t expecting you to pick up. I’m from New York Magazine; would you mind speaking to me for a few minutes? [Shouting.] I got it! [Long pause.] New York Magazine, eh? Sure, I have a few minutes to talk. Great. So, tell me how you feel about Sunday’s game. Were you worried it wasn’t going to go Eli’s way? I think, um, certainly. I didn’t feel sure about anything until it read zero on the clock. How did you feel at the final moments of the game? I was smiling and crying at the same time; I couldn’t believe it. I recognized the huge task they were taking on, playing the greatest team of all time. And it was about as good as it gets. Was it a different feeling from last year, when Peyton won? With the Colts, you expected them to deliver. With the Giants, it was a very pleasant surprise. Was it different because Eli’s the baby? Hmmm, I’ve got to be careful here. I can always make one brother mad and the other happy. They’re both as good as it gets. It’s very sweet, and in my wildest dreams, I’d never think I’d have two brothers who’ve won Super Bowls. So you’re not more protective of the little one? It’s hard to say. I’m equally happy and proud of both. I’m not trying to get you in trouble here! I know, I know. I knew the Colts were going to win a Super Bowl, but with the Giants, I was just hoping they’d win one playoff game and play hard. The fact that they won three away games and beat the Patriots … New York has been kind of hard on Eli, but now it seems like everyone’s come around. It’s funny what winning does. Have you been to his house in Hoboken? Why does he live there? I think Tiki was the only one who ever lived in Manhattan. It’s kinda hard to get to practice, and you can’t run the risk of being late. Eli likes Hoboken. Does it feel strange to be the only brother who hasn’t won a Super Bowl? Well, there’s a lot of pressure on me next year. I’m not quite sure what I’m going to do. Ha-ha. So no repressed jealousy, crushed dreams, that kind of stuff? No, zero of that. Well, okay. [Sigh.] Thanks.

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