September 2, 2020
Say what you want about Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (as many NFL fans do). He’s thrown some really bad interceptions in his career that fans and commentators relentlessly lampoon.
— NFL (@NFL) September 15, 2019
People have even made Youtube videos chronicling “lowlights” in Cousins’ career.
The fact remains that the ninth-year quarterback out of Michigan State has a career 2:1 touchdown to interception ratio. He’s won 18 of his 31 starts as a Viking. He also led 13 game-winning drives for the Washington no-longer-Redskins and Vikings.
But this is just the beginning of Cousins’ accomplishments.
He is the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for 4,000-plus yards, 30 touchdowns, 10 interceptions or fewer, and have a 70% completion percentage in the same season (2018). Cousins holds the Vikings franchise record for completion percentage in a single game – 88.5% versus Washington on October 24, 2019. He’s also the only quarterback in NFL history to pass for 4,000 yards and record at least four rushing touchdowns in three consecutive seasons (2015-17).
There’s a lot to admire about Cousins personally as well. The son of a preacher, Cousins has never been shy about his Christian beliefs in an age that spirituality is frowned upon. A reporter attempted asking Cousins a “gotcha” question in 2013 about potentially playing football and sharing the locker room with a homosexual teammate. He didn’t take the bait and answered in an articulate, admirable way based on his faith.
“At the end of the day, anybody in our locker room who is struggling with something and isn’t perfect – which would be everybody in the locker room – my attitude would be that I want to show love to them in a way that shows them Jesus, and hope that they can encounter the same love that I encountered from Jesus that saved my life.”
Cousins early contracts
Professional football players must be shrewd businessmen first and athletes second to maximize their earnings potential. NFL contracts are structured to favor teams, not players. Cousins is a renaissance man as it relates to working the NFL system.
Cousins earned $2.57 million in his first four seasons on a rookie contract. He got his opportunity to start all 16 games in year four and didn’t disappoint. Cousins threw for nearly 4,200 yards, 29 touchdowns, and led the league in completion percentage. The Redskins, however, were not convinced that Cousins was their long-term solution. The team signed him to the one-year exclusive rights franchise tag for $19.95 million the following season. Washington failed to make the playoffs. But Cousins threw for nearly 5,000 yards and 25 more touchdowns.
Cousins cashes in
Despite another great statistical seasons, the Redskins still were not impressed. The team again signed Cousins to the one-year franchise tag the following season, this time for $23.9 million. He became the first quarterback in NFL history to be franchise tagged in consecutive seasons. The team went 7-9, and lost four of their last six games to miss the playoffs. Cousins amassed a 24-25-1 record in his three seasons as the full-time starter and was labeled a “system quarterback” who could not win big games. But there’s always a dearth of quality passers in the NFL; and Cousins used that to his advantage.
Cousins signed a 3-year, $84 million contract with the Vikings in 2018. The contract was fully guaranteed, the first of its kind in NFL history. It was also the most lucrative contract in NFL history at the time. Cousins got another $61 million guaranteed in a contract extension signed this year. For a guy many regard as mediocre, Cousins is well on his way to earning more than $200 million in his NFL career.
Cousins courage on COVID-19 and conscious command
All the hoopla on social media yesterday originated from an interview Cousins did with Kyle Brandt on a podcast. He was asked how worried he was about COVID-19 on a scale of 1-10, with one being “Masks are stupid, you’re all a bunch of lemmings.” Cousins replied, “I’m not gonna call anybody stupid, for the trouble it would get me in. But I’m about a .000001.” He elaborated further.
“I want to respect what other people’s concerns are. For me personally, just talking no one else can get the virus, what is your concern if you could get it, I would say I’m gonna go about my daily life. If I get it, I’m gonna ride it out. I’m gonna let nature do its course. Survival-of-the-fittest kind of approach. And just say, if it knocks me out, it knocks me out. I’m going to be OK. You know, even if I die. If I die, I die. I kind of have peace about that.”
Cousins received a lot of backlash from social media users and mainstream sports media. But Cousins’ position is one of a man who has achieved conscious command. He understands that there is only so much in life that he can control. Cousins’ Christian beliefs mean he lives on God’s will. He understands that his family, their children and all of their children will have great lives because he plays football at a high level. The public was simply shocked that Cousins spoke in such a confident, truthful manner. He is at peace with himself as a top NFL quarterback, a great business man, a leader of men, and follower of Jesus Christ.
“I trust the Lord will handle things,” Cousins told ESPN in response to the controversy.
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