Peyton Manning rooting for Kirk Cousins, Vikings to ‘stay on a run’ all the way to the Super Bowl

Football great's father, Archie, played for Vikings in early '80s.

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins warms up before the start of Sunday's game against the New York Jets at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
John Autey / St. Paul Pioneer Press
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EAGAN, Minn. -- When Peyton Manning was 7 and 8, he was a big Minnesota Vikings fan. He lived in Minnetonka and his dad Archie Manning was a quarterback finishing his career with Minnesota in the 1983 and 1984 seasons.

Flash forward four decades and the hall of famer still has a soft spot for the Vikings — and likes their quarterback a lot. Manning admires what Kirk Cousins is doing with the Vikings off to a 10-2 start, and he said he would love to see them make a run to the Super Bowl.

“(There’s) great history there in Minnesota,” Manning said in a phone interview. “They need to kind of break that curse. They went to four Super Bowls in an outdoor stadium and they haven’t been to one since they’ve gone indoors. It’s time to change that, and hopefully this will be a good year to get Minnesota back to the big game because there’s great history there. Hopefully, Kirk and them can stay on a run and get to Arizona this year (for Super Bowl LVII in Glendale on Feb. 12).”

The Vikings went to four Super Bowls between 1969-76, losing them all, when they played outdoors at Metropolitan Stadium. They moved indoors to the Metrodome in 1982, went back outside to what was then TCF Bank Stadium from 2014-15, and have played indoors at U.S. Bank Stadium since 2016.

Manning said he has admired Cousins, who is in his 11th NFL season and fifth with Minnesota. On Nov. 7, he had him on ESPN2’s “ManningCast,” which he hosts along with brother Eli Manning.


“I’m proud of Kirk,” Manning said. “Kirk’s having a great year. … I’ve always enjoyed keeping up with Kirk and, boy, he’s playing well. … Kirk’s always made a lot of aggressive throws, likes to throw it down the field, likes to be aggressive on play action, and he’s getting the ball to his playmakers. (Wide receiver Justin) Jefferson’s having a great year. … It’s fun to watch. They’re playing really well.”

Football great Peyton Manning greets SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey during the SEC Championship Game on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Manning says he's a fan of Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins.
Jason Getz / TNS

Manning called Jefferson “the best receiver in the NFL” but added that “Kirk’s setting him up to have that success.” He said Cousins, who never has missed a game due to injury in his career, has “great toughness” and that he “answers the bell every single Sunday.”

Cousins was flattered Wednesday to hear about Manning speaking so highly of him, saying he’s “got a lot of respect” for “just about everything (Manning has) done.” He said it was a “unique moment” to play against him for Washington in an Oct. 27, 2013 game when Manning was with Denver and Cousins came off the bench to play in a game the Broncos won 45-21.

Cousins, 34, also looked back to when he was a kid and living in suburban Chicago and Manning was starring for Indianapolis. Manning played for the Colts from 1998-2010 and the Broncos from 2012-15, and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2021.

“I remember walking through Woodfield Mall (in Schaumburg, Ill.) when I was like 9 years old, 10 years, old and wanting a Colts Peyton Manning jersey for Christmas that you see in the Champs Sports there just because that was a guy you watched going back to (college) in Tennessee,” Cousins said. “I felt like the way I wanted to play the position when I was in middle school and high school was like him. Decisive, accurate, smart, trying to be a step ahead of the defense.”

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Cousins said he was talking recently to Vikings equipment manager Dennis Ryan, who has been with the team since 1975. Ryan told him about when Archie Manning played for the Vikings as a backup quarterback, his sons Cooper, Peyton and Eli would run around in the locker room. Like Peyton, Eli won two Super Bowls as an NFL quarterback.

Archie Manning joined the Vikings in a September 1983 trade from Houston. And in 1984, when he was playing his 14th and final NFL season, his family lived in a rented home in Minnetonka. Peyton attended L.H. Tanglen Elementary School for one semester as a third-grader.

“I enjoyed spending that half year in Minnesota,” Peyton Manning said. “My dad used to let us come out to Saturday practices. … I remember lots of my dad’s teammates, from Rufus Bess to Ted Brown to Wade Wilson to Joe Senser, Darren Nelson and Don Hasselbeck. I really enjoyed it. …. Greg Coleman, of course, was the punter. Terry LeCount. Leo Lewis. I can remember lots of those old Vikings.”


When asked if the Vikings were his favorite team back then, Manning said, “Absolutely.” To this day, he still has much appreciation for the franchise.


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