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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Eastern Washington’s Cooper Kupp wins MVP 30 years after region’s last recipient, Mark Rypien

Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp (10) celebrates on the field after their victory against the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl 56, Sunday, Feb. 13, 2022 in Inglewood, CA. The Rams defeated the Bengals 23-30.  (Steve Luciano/Associated Press)

In the waning moments of Super Bowl 56, Cooper Kupp earned the same honor Mark Rypien received 30 years ago.

“At the end it came down to two guys,” said Rypien, referring to Kupp and Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford.

Kupp was named Most Valuable Player after hauling in several catches and running for a pivotal fourth down conversion on a game-changing drive in the Los Angeles Rams’ 23-20 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. The award came 30 years and 19 days after Rypien was named MVP of Super Bowl 26, a 37-24 victory by Rypien and Washington over the Buffalo Bills.

Rypien, the Shadle Park High School and Washington State University product, praised Kupp’s play, particularly after a hard shot in the end zone that drew a penalty and extended the Rams’ game-winning drive.

“I really thought his bell was rung in the back of the end zone,” Rypien said Sunday night.

Kupp is the ninth wide receiver to win the Super Bowl’s MVP award. Julian Edelman had previously been the most recent wide receiver to win the award, selected after the New England Patriots’ victory in Super Bowl 53.

While the Vince Lombardi trophy is given to the entire team, an MVP honoree gets to keep the Pete Rozelle Trophy, awarded to the biggest game’s best player. Rypien, who also praised the play of Stafford and Rams’ defensive tackle Aaron Donald, said the award to Kupp showed the possibilities that sports provide.

“He showed any young kid out there, that they could be able to make it happen,” Rypien said. “You can go to Eastern Washington or Washington State (University), and have a little extra hardware at the end of it.”