Through Sept. 13, the first Sunday of the 2020 NFL season,
Sports Spectrum is highlighting one Christ-following player each day for 20 days.
Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp’s arrival as a third-round pick out of Eastern Washington in 2017 coincided with a renaissance of sorts for the organization. After 13 seasons without a record better than .500, the Rams went 11-5 and won the NFC West during Kupp’s first season.
Kupp showed promise during that first season, with 62 receptions for 869 yards and five touchdowns. He was off to a blistering pace through the first eight games of his second season before an ACL tear in Week 10 sidelined him for the rest of the year. In his absence, Los Angeles advanced all the way to the Super Bowl before falling to the New England Patriots.
Kupp returned to action with a vengeance in his third season in 2019, playing every game and recording 94 receptions for 1,161 yards and 10 touchdowns. As a team, the Rams mustered a 9-7 record and missed the playoffs after their two-year run.
The departures of star running back Todd Gurley and speedy receiver Brandin Cooks leaves question marks for the Rams in one of the NFL’s toughest divisions. Still, Kupp is confident in the offense’s ability to produce big plays in the passing game with fellow 1,000-yard wide receiver Robert Woods.
“I think [the Rams wide receivers are] an incredible squad … We challenge each other every single day to be the best that we can be, and the goal is always to be the best football player you can be,” Kupp told NFL Network last week. “When we step on the football field, production-wise and the things that we’ve been able to do, the things we’re asked across a large range — blocking and understanding the whole offensive side of the ball — [we’re] able to do all these things.
“I think it really plays into why we think we’re one of the best (wide-receiver duos) in the league.”
— Rams Newswire (@RamsNewswire) August 23, 2020
And even while Kupp hopes to take another leap in 2020 and enter the conversation as one of the NFL’s best pass catchers, what grounds the wideout is his foundation of faith in Christ.
Kupp was raised in a household surrounded by strong parents and siblings of faith in his hometown of Yakima, Washington. During his time rehabbing the ACL tear in his left knee in 2018, Kupp said he saw God working in his heart.
“Being able to every day find that joy in life that only comes from the Spirit — there’s growth happening,” Kupp said in 2019.
Kupp cast his eyes to the Lord for comfort and strength soon after the devastating injury.
Rejoice in your suffering, for through suffering comes perseverance! Thank you all for your prayers, we are blessed by your covering. I refuse to be defeated! God is GOOD! #EyesAbove pic.twitter.com/UrzcoBPbEb
— Cooper Kupp (@CooperKupp) October 16, 2018
Kupp lists 1 Corinthians 9:24 on his social media pages, which says, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.”
No gift I could give that would be worthy of Him.. but I can play. To the very best of the ability He gave me. And He will be well pleased.
— Cooper Kupp (@CooperKupp) November 29, 2016
Kupp may soon be known as one of the more dangerous wide receivers in the NFL. Still, he knows that his identity is ultimately in Christ and not in how many yards he gains or touchdowns he scores.
“Knowing where your identity is and knowing that as much as I want to be a football player and I strive to be that, I’m so much more than that,” he said in 2017. “This life is temporary but there’s such great things ahead. No matter what the naysayers say, no matter what anyone tells me, I know that my identity is in Christ and nothing can take me off of that.”
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