Opinion: A QB in plexiglass? Vikings’ Kirk Cousins baffles with COVID-19 vaccination stance

Entering his 10th NFL season, Kirk Cousins’ brand is pretty well established.

Pro Bowl-caliber quarterback despite entering the league as a fourth-round draft pick. Smart. Hard worker. Affable. Durable. Savvy businessman. Yet Cousins, a six-year starter, tends to come up small when the figurative money is on the table, going 8-16 in prime time games and 1-2 in postseason – both playoff losses of the blowout variety.

You’d think such a driven guy would want every advantage at his disposal while trying to dispel the notion he’s not a championship-level quarterback. But the edge conferred by COVID-19 vaccines isn’t one Cousins wants.

Thursday, he came off the Minnesota Vikings’ reserve/COVID-19 list after being designated a “high-risk close contact” – meaning he’s not vaccinated – and missing four training camp practices, an outcome Cousins characterized as “frustrating, disappointing.”

Though it may ultimately be a minor setback for the team, head coach Mike Zimmer has clearly been miffed by the absence of Cousins and two other quarterbacks – rookie Kellen Mond remains on the COVID-19 list, while second-year backup Nate Stanley (unvaccinated himself) also returned Thursday – and it’s easy to extrapolate this situation into a regular-season disaster for a team that’s gone 26-23-1 since Cousins signed in 2018.

He remains unmoved.

Vikings QB Kirk Cousins’ decision to not receive a COVID-19 vaccine has become a source of frustration for coach Mike Zimmer.
“I think the vaccination decision is a very private health matter for me, and I’m gonna keep it as such,” Cousins said Thursday.

“I’m going to be vigilant about avoiding a close contact. I’ve even thought about should I just set up literally plexiglass around where I sit, so that this can never happen again. I’ve thought about it, because I’m gonna do whatever it takes.”

He’s willing to encase himself in plastic, but he won’t get a shot or two to protect himself and other teammates – and several need it, The Washington Post reporting earlier this week that Minnesota’s 64.5% rate for fully vaccinated players is the worst among the NFL’s 32 teams.

In fairness to Cousins, his decision is personal, and he’s hardly alone. The U.S. only reached the 70% threshold of adults with at least one COVID-19 vaccination shot Monday, about a month after President Biden wanted to hit that benchmark – and while the delta variant of the virus rips through the country with surging frequency. (The NFL at large is now more than 90% vaccinated.)

 

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