Maybe Portillo’s was the reason Kirk Cousins agreed to play for the Minnesota Vikings.

The quarterback turned 30 years old on Sunday. Other primary sports figures in the Twin Cities have celebrated lavishingly for an occasion like this. Adrian Peterson rode a camel at his. Joe Mauer, known for his understatedness, flew in close friends and family for a party in Chicago.

Cousins? A birthday eve dinner at Portillo’s in Woodbury following the Vikings’ loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

“It’s not the best for me, but Chicago dog, Italian beef with sweet peppers,” he listed off after Wednesday’s practice, “double cheeseburger, fries — the crinkle-cut fries are the best. The chocolate cake shake is hard to beat. I didn’t do all that, but I’ve been known when I go to Chicago to do all that.”

The quarterback grew up on Portillo’s in Illinois but didn’t have any at which to feast in Washington when he played for the Redskins. Minneapolis opened two locations in 2017 and has another on the way — just in time for Cousins’ arrival.

Cousins said he spent his actual birthday sitting around the house. In fairness, a big meal at Portillo’s can slow a person down.

“I just kind of sat around on Sunday on my birthday,” he said. “We were leaving the other night and the coaches said, ‘Quarterbacks, can you stay? Do you have anywhere to be?’ And I looked at them and said, ‘I have no life here. I’m here to play football for the Minnesota Vikings. I don’t have a whole lot else going on. So you let me know. I’ll be here.’ I found that to be true on my birthday as well. I sit around and I’ve got the free time, but I don’t really know what to do because I haven’t really built much of a life here yet. So it was kind of funny.”

Cousins has a history of struggling to forget about football during people’s birthdays. Here’s a picture of him in full uniform and shoulder pads at his sister’s birthday party when the two were kids.

His 3-for-8 performance in Saturday’s loss left plenty to think about after head coach Mike Zimmer said “he can play a lot better” in his postgame remarks.

Cousins gets a chance to bounce back Friday against the Seattle Seahawks.


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