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Brian Flores & Chris Kuper Teamed Up to Coach Sons' Flag Football Team


EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. – A little rain couldn't dampen the Brian Flores defense.

Or in this case, a lot of rain.

Against a backdrop of heavy gray clouds, interrupted by the sharp contrast of a double rainbow, a defender leapt and reached his right hand high to break up the would-be touchdown pass.

Flores flashed a smile and clapped from the sideline as his team celebrated the play.

The 10-, 11- and 12-year-old athletes cheered and hollered, the typical shag of middle-school haircuts plastered to foreheads that dripped with rain and sweat.

Defensive and offensive players swapped places, and Chris Kuper rounded the latter into a huddle on the field, holding up a play sheet. He recapped the plan, then clapped in unison with the youngsters before they stepped into position.

Kuper rejoined Flores on the sideline, both of them wearing black baseball caps.

It was an offseason Sunday for the Vikings defensive coordinator and offensive line coach, but still game day. In this case, for the fifth-and-sixth grade Vikings Flag Football League team they co-coach.

Flores and Kuper enjoy the change of pace from their NFL coaching schedule, and they especially value the chance for further bonding with their sons. James Kuper, 12, is on the team, as well as Miles (11) and Max (10) Flores. Vikings Offensive Coordinator Wes Phillips' son, Mac, also is on the team.

"It's great. It's fun because we both get to spend time with our boys," Flores recently told "It's a great group of young guys. It's very different than the setting we're in on a daily basis.

"I actually never know what I'm gonna get from these kids – what they're gonna say, what they're gonna do – and it's a lot of fun," Flores added with a chuckle. "It's a great bunch to spend time with."

"It's a different sport for me," added Kuper, who noted the focus on positive attitude and sportsmanship rather than his typical instruction on footwork, hand placement and physicality.

View photos of defensive coordinator Brian Flores and offensive line coach Chris Kuper coaching their fifth-and-sixth grade Vikings Flag Football League team.

The Kuper, Flores and Phillips families all live in close proximity to one another, an added perk considering the equally close proximity of their children's ages.

James, Miles, Max and Mac often spend time together outside of football, whether it's riding their bikes or hanging out at one of their homes.

Flores shared an anecdote of recently taking his sons and James out to dinner.

"He was saying, 'Your dad is so intimidating,' " Flores laughed. "My boys are like, 'Are you kidding me? Your dad is so intimidating.' And James is like, 'My dad isn't intimidating!' It's like a back and forth."

Sharing coaching duties also has its benefits when, like most middle-schoolers, the boys pay closer attention to the one they don't call "Dad."

"My kids won't always listen to me, but they will listen to Kup' – and vice versa," Flores said.

The 2024 spring season marked the first time he and Kuper teamed up to coach in the flag league, which includes teams of 3- to 5-year-olds all the way up through seventh and eighth grade.

The colleagues appreciated the opportunity to develop youth in a sport they're passionate about.

"Obviously football is important to me … whether it's the competitive growth, the skill set growth, [it's all important]," Kuper said. "When you see things click for some kids – some of them come along faster than others, and that's the fun part about it."

Flores emphasizes body language, energy and "not pointing fingers" at teammates when a mistake is made on the field.

"This is a good group – they really don't do that at all. You have moments where they pout a little bit, but they've been fun to coach and develop that way," Flores said. "They cheer each other on; they've got these dances; they've got signals and signs and slang they throw around. It's been really fun."

Speaking of slang, the Vikings coaches have done a little learning of their own.

"[They'll] teach words and stuff the kids are saying now, and then the players will say them in our o-line room, and they don't think I will know what that stuff means," laughed Kuper, who also has a 13-year-old daughter. "It kind of gives me a little street cred, too."

Added Flores: "Yeah, like 'skibidi,' 'sigma,' 'rizz.' Rizz is a really big one. Bruh."


Flores and Kuper's team finished its season with a 5-1 record, ranking third among 10 teams of fifth and sixth graders.

They're proud of improvement from all their players, who were receptive to coaching and consistently cheered one another one.

The young athletes didn't shy away from suggestions of their own, either.

"Really when it comes to the offense, there's really only five guys on the field, so it's really getting them to do what I've been showing them, talking them through the play card," Kuper said. "That's what we're focusing on. We're gonna get a thousand suggestions from the kids in the huddle, but no, 'We're doing this so that guy can get the ball. You're gonna run off as hard as you can on a go route so we can hand the ball off to the runner and pull the corner out of there.' "

Flores also fielded plenty of ideas, from route proposals to an abundance of blitz requests.

"We've gotta reel 'em in a bit sometimes," he said.

Flores and Kuper also have to rein themselves in a bit from time to time.

During the rain-soaked game, for instance, Kuper recognized his quarterback was having a tough time hanging onto the snap and getting the ball out. He pivoted to handoffs rather than the downfield passes he'd initially planned.

"We have to emphasize taking care of the football," he noted.

Kuper and Flores are grateful for the NFL's support of flag football and the opportunities the sport opens up for so many at a young age.

Kuper shared from personal experience the way bigger-statured youth will often get assigned early on to the offensive or defensive line in tackle football – but the omission of linemen in flag means other positions can be introduced.

"We'll have players out there who may be snapping the ball, but they're also catching balls down the field," Kuper said. "They're getting to learn a different skill set than they would with a tackle football team."

Flores believes flag football is a great sport for anyone to try, regardless of age or skill level.

"I just think it's good for kids to get out and spend time with other kids – get some of that camaraderie, go through some failures, which happen in all sports, and come back from them," he said. "That's happened so many times this season, where somebody's had a bad play and then bounced back, got an interception and scored a touchdown.

"I would encourage anyone to do it," Flores added. "Boys, girls, big, small – I would encourage anyone to get out there and try it."