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Eastern Washington University Football

More than ever, football is a family affair for the Kupps

At right, Cooper Kupp and his mother, Karin, share a moment in Dallas on Sept. 21. (EWU, Karin Kupp / Courtesy)

DAVIS, California – Truly, these are the best of times for the Kupp family.

On a warm Saturday afternoon in northern California, patriarch Jake Kupp and his son Craig – both former NFL players – joined their wives and friends for another big football weekend.

Craig’s younger son Ketner, a linebacker at Eastern Washington, was warming up on the field for the Eagles’ game at UC Davis.

Four hundred miles to the south, his older son Cooper, a wide receiver with the Los Angeles Rams, was pondering another family reunion and a big game with the Seahawks.

Their extended families are making the most of it – gleefully so.

“This has been such a great experience,” said Jake Kupp, a Pro Bowl guard at New Orleans. “To be able to experience your own career, then your son’s career and now for a third time your grandson’s career.”

“It’s like going back and reliving life,” Jake Kupp said.

The Kupps – one of only five families to have three generations selected in the NFL draft – embraced the opportunity.

Soon after Cooper was drafted in the third round by L.A., Craig matched up the Eastern Washington and Rams schedules and began making plans.

Big plans, considering they live in Yakima, which isn’t exactly an airline hub.

Recently, the plans included a Thursday night Rams-49ers game in San Francisco on Sept. 21 followed by an airplane and car trip to catch Ketner and the Eagles pull out a thriller at Montana on the 23rd.

Two weeks later, the Kupps were in Cheney to see Ketner make five tackles in a win over Sacramento State. Improbably, they were in Dallas a day later to see Cooper catch a touchdown pass in a 35-30 win over the Cowboys.

Cooper Kupp, who has 17 catches for 230 yards, may be surprising a few NFL experts but not his family.

“I know it sounds a little arrogant, but it doesn’t surprise me,” Craig said. “It’s great. He’s doing just what we expected him to – because of his mentality, he wouldn’t expect anything less.”

Meanwhile, Ketner, a junior, had missed the first three games of the season with a leg injury. He hit his stride Saturday night with 11 tackles to help the Eagles beat Davis 41-38.

After the game, Ketner posed for pictures with family.

“It’s something I’ve been used to my whole life, family coming to my games,” Ketner said. “I know they were kind of worried about it, having to be all over the place, but it’s working out pretty well.”

Indeed, even with two games within 24 hours, the Kupps made it look easy. After Ketner’s game, they drove to San Francisco, caught a flight and drove from the airport to the stadium.

Expectations were high for the Rams-Seahawks game. The Rams were 3-1 coming in and one of the most surprising teams in the league under rookie coach Sean McVay.

“He’s turned that team around 180 degrees,” said Craig, who pointed out that the Rams were the worst offense in the league last year.

The Rams like to spread the ball around, and Cooper Kupp has played a big part. At this rate, he’ll finish the season with about 50 catches for 740 yards.

Those are excellent numbers for a rookie, but nothing like what he did in Cheney.

“He’s doing the same things he did in college, but you have to become more team-oriented at this level,” said Jake, who made the NFL all-rookie team in 1964.

The game against Seattle came down to the wire. With the Rams down by six in the final minute, Kupp found some daylight in the end zone, but couldn’t hold on to a hard-thrown ball from quarterback Jared Goff.

Kupp slumped to the turf.

Later that afternoon, his family was there for him, and they will be again.