The engine of so many lives, the engine of their son’s life, was here and now.
Craig and Karin Kupp sat in a suite with family members near the 10-yard line on the opposite side of where a childhood dream would soon come true.
Their son Cooper’s dream.
Their boy Cooper, who wasn’t good enough for USC or Stanford or the University of Washington, who started proving the doubters wrong in Eastern Washington and never stopped once he became arguably the best receiver in the NFL.
And now, late in the morning after Cooper caught Matthew Stafford’s one-yard TD pass that made the Rams the 2022 Super Bowl champions and made Cooper the Super Bowl MVP – proud parents Craig and Karin Kupp were on their own record of a lifetime. It’s the conduct a father and mother must do when their son – with his two grandchildren and Matthew Stafford and Aaron Donald and their children – shouts to the world on their field of post-game dreams: “We will all to Disneyland!” Mom and dad used to go to Disneyland too.
The parade in Anaheim was scheduled for 1:30 p.m. PT, and it wasn’t necessarily the worst thing in the world that it had to start without them.
“We’re still in Los Angeles, we’re dropping Karin’s mom [Linda Gilmer] at the Burbank airport and then we’ll be heading to Disneyland to try and do the parade for the Coop little thing,” Craig said a little before noon PST. He chuckled an MVP dad laugh and added, “I don’t think we’re going to get there.”
I warned him not to take a speeding ticket and Karin said, “Maybe we’ll have a police escort!” and they both laughed.
It was Bengals 20, Rams 16 when the Rams started their eternity from their 21-yard line with just over six minutes left at SoFi Stadium on Super Sunday night.
“I was saying to my son Ketner and my wife,” Craig began, “I said, ‘They have to put this in the hands of Matthew and Coop (laughs) on this player. And then live and die with the results. I’m so happy with how it turned out obviously, and I’m so happy that Matthew is able to do what he did, and that Coop is as big as he has been. And then for the defense to close. We were delighted.
You bet they put it in the hands of Matthew and Coop. The Rams were in business after Stafford’s 22-yard missile through Kupp’s midfield.
“That was a hell of a throw,” said Craig, a quarterback for Pacific Lutheran, a fifth-round draft pick from the Giants who got to fulfill his NFL dream, if only briefly. “For Matthew to step in and deliver that ball, he had to wait just a second for him to clear. Yeah, that was awesome. We were super excited about it. They’ve done it many times this season, they’ve done it again.
Before long, Stafford and Kupp stood 1 yard from the Lombardi Trophy.
“I think if it’s going to happen in the end zone, I think Cooper is a pretty good bet,” Craig said.
A much better bet than Eli Apple preventing Cooper from catching the winning TD. Craig was asked about the scene in the sequel.
“It was just heckling,” he said. “Matthew Stafford’s family was in the suite right next to us, so yeah, between the two of us there was a lot of high-fives, a lot of hugs, a lot of tears. Yeah, hugs between the two suites. C It was truly a special moment.”
Cooper’s wife, Anna, left the suite to take their boys, 3-year-old Cooper (they all call her Juney) and 1-year-old Cyrpress to see their dad and play in the confetti.
“People talk about dreams that maybe come true. … You look at him, everything he’s been through since eighth grade, working hard and putting in time and effort, and just trusting God who placed him,” Karin said, “and c is just the icing on the cake and everything else. It’s like it’s just layer upon layer of extra nuggets, and winning that MVP is just the icing on the cake… it doesn’t get any better than that, really. Simply amazing – believable but amazing, that’s what I would say.
Cooper finally came to the suite for hugs, kisses and photos. “A lot of joy,” Karin said.
Craig and Karen laughed as they recalled Cooper’s first trip to Disneyland after joining the Rams.
“He’s 24 or whatever and he’s got a first-time visitor button and stuff,” Craig said with a laugh.
Craig paused as he pondered what watching Cooper’s journey from then to now means to him:
“I don’t know. … It still feels a bit dreamy to me. It’s settling and sinking. But thinking back to the road that Cooper has been on and the work that he’s done. … All the people that have been placed in his life every step of the way to be able to help him accomplish like this. … It’s just really rewarding. Every parent wants their child to jump in and do their best, and Coop can do it and find their thing and reach sort of the pinnacle of the pinnacle with this latest offering, you just can’t ask for more. I’m so proud of him.”
Craig and Karin didn’t make the trip from Yakima, Wash., to watch the Rams’ 13-3 loss to the Patriots in Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta because Cooper (torn ACL) couldn’t play there. Craig’s father, Jake, a former guard who played 12 years in the NFL, mostly with the Saints, also got to enjoy this one. “Ohmigosh, he’s on Cloud 9,” Craig said. “He hasn’t even really celebrated the playoffs in his 12-year career in the NFL, and to be able to celebrate something like that, with his family and with Cooper. … It was very very, very special for him.
Kupps Runneth Over once again.
At 1:17 a.m. PT, Craig Kupp texted: We’ve arrived at Disneyland.
New York Post