Kirk Cousins has been criticized for his play his entire career — not to mention his corny demeanor in post-game pressers, Mic’d Up segments, and commercials. While not all of the criticism has been warranted, he definitely deserves flak right now.
Cole Beasley may be the only NFL player more outspoken against vaccines than Cousins at this point, and that’s saying something. But Cousins has a different approach than the hard-headed Buffalo Bills receiver. He’s mastering the art of deflection and hypocrisy when asked about the vaccine.
When you hear the supposed leader of an NFL team say they are “going to do whatever it takes” to follow COVID-19 protocols, you’d think they’d take the simplest step of all. Instead, he suggested putting a plexiglass box around himself or meeting outside all season — in Minnesota.
Sure, it’s easy to take one quote from a presser, tweet it out, and make him look foolish. But that would be it — if that’s where the story ended. Longtime journeyman NFL quarterback Josh McCown told Chis Tomasson of the Pioneer Press that Cousins cannot be an effective leader for his team due to his personal choice of not getting vaccinated.
“I just think you want to lead the way and do everything that allows you to be effective for your team, and so if you don’t (get vaccinated), I guess you have to throw the mask on and be vigilant about that,” said McCown. “But even then, I think that takes away from some of your ability to lead.’’
McCown acknowledged that every player has the choice to get vaccinated or not, but it’s still an important decision to his team when missing games is going to be the penalty. Being the second-highest-paid QB in the NFL this season means Cousins is being compensated like a leader, something he is reportedly not doing to the highest degree.
Meanwhile, the Minnesota Vikings organization has done what it can to properly inform Cousins and other holdouts about the reality of the vaccine. Dr. Michael Osterholm, an internationally acclaimed epidemiologist, visited the team to dispel anti-vax disinformation. It was a last-ditch effort to increase vaccination numbers among the players and staff.
“If you’re a leader on a football team, it’s about the community looking to you,” said Dr. Osterholm. “Young men and women in our community saying in fact, ‘If they’re not going to get it, why should I get it? But if they do get it, maybe I should get it.’ And so I think it was really an ideal opportunity to kind of share about the vaccine and what it means to the community.”
Cousins seemed to carry on with his personal decision because he’s still wearing a mask on the sideline, and it’s completely fair that he’s able to make that decision. But there are other pitfalls if he doesn’t budge.
Mike Zimmer’s comments about some of the information his players are citing are disconcerting, and he seems to have a short fuse with any player being selfish. Doesn’t it seem like all of this backlash on Cousins’ inability to lead a team, especially from an experienced peer such as McCown, makes it harder for him to get a contract after his current one expires?
If he had just gotten the shot and carried on with his normal team activities, the media wouldn’t be portraying him as a selfish player. He very well could’ve earned a contract on par with his current one because that’s what he demanded in free agency, and he’s still the same QB he’s always been.
Regardless, he deserves some respect for being so loyal to his beliefs no matter what they are; if he was all about the money, he would have gotten the shot and continued to be the guy the Vikings expect him to be. Cousins is at least trying to be the leader he thinks he can be, but his personal decision is counterproductive.
This isn’t an attempt to roast Cousins. I was always a fan of his and will be as long as he is the Vikings’ QB. But Josh McCown has a point. I didn’t think the Vikings were overpaying for him until I realized that he might not be able to take his team to a Super Bowl or even have a magical run like Case Keenum had. The irony in all this? Cousins is the more skilled player. He just needs to prove he can lead.