Cooper Kupp just finished an all-time great season. After recording the second-most receptions (145) and receiving yards (1,947) ever in a single season, he scored six playoff touchdowns and became the first wide receiver in the last 13 years to be named Super Bowl MVP.
Few envisioned this level of dominance when the Los Angeles Rams drafted him in the third round of 2017. However, he had two famous fans before making the NFL.
In 2019, Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times (h/t Rams Wire's Cameron DaSilva) recalled a young Kupp attending the Manning Passing Academy. As Peyton Manning told Farmer, he and Eli Manning would bicker over which quarterback got to team up with the wide receiver.
“Eli and I would argue over who got to throw to Cooper, because all of his routes were very precise,” Peyton said. “He had great control of his body. You always knew where he was going, when he was going to break out or break in. For a quarterback and receiver, sometimes it takes a while to develop that timing. But he was one of those guys who right away for me and Eli the timing was easy. And of course he caught everything as well.”
Per DaSilva, Rams general manager Les Snead discovered Kupp at the Manning camp, and Peyton's praise held major sway.
“Peyton mentioned to Eli, and all the subsequent college QBs, ‘Hey, Cooper Kupp’s my guy. Y’all can figure out who y’all are throwing to, but Cooper’s mine,’” Snead said. “At that point, you took the note to follow the kid."
It turns out Peyton wasn't just relishing the chance to throw to another Cooper, which worked well when he teamed with older brother Cooper Manning in high school. Years later, Kupp developed the same synchrony with Matthew Stafford in Los Angeles.
Every NFL quarterback today would likely argue just as passionately for the opportunity to work with Kupp.