For NFL players, a high degree of transparency traditionally applies to health issues that affect a player’s availability. As to COVID, which directly affects their availability, unvaccinated players routinely choose for little or no transparency.
Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins demonstrated that mindset on Thursday, talking about the lengths to which he’ll go to avoid an infection while also refusing to address his reasons for not getting vaccinated, calling the matter personal and private.
But, really, what’s personal and private about things that could directly impact the ability of a player who earns many millions of dollars to play football? These are fair questions, especially when the anti-vaccine position taken by the player cuts so sharply against the clear preferences of the league and the team for which Cousins plays.
There’s a very good chance that the quarterback’s refusal to get vaccinated flows from his father’s attitude toward the pandemic. Don Cousins, a pastor in Orlando, has had some strong beliefs last year about the virus. Check out this thread, posted in September 2020 by Resist Programming. Don Cousins reopened his church during the pandemic. He didn’t require masks.
Kirk himself made it clear last year that he doesn’t believe in masks, and he uttered the phrase, “If I die, I die” regarding the possibility of catching the disease.
Although the thread predates the vaccine question, the anti-vaccine attitude meshes with everything Kirk and Don Cousins said last year. If you simply (and inexplicably) don’t take the virus seriously, why get vaccinated against it?
Cousins is in the small minority of unvaccinated NFL players. However, he’s the starting quarterback of the Vikings, ostensibly a team leader. When the team leader shrugs at the preferences of team management, it’s no surprise that so many others on the team have followed suit.
The Vikings have little choice but to deal with it. Cousins is due $21 million fully guaranteed in 2021 and $35 million fully guaranteed in 2022. The Vikings could cut him and receive a credit for whatever he earns elsewhere, but that would be an extreme and irrational reaction to the situation.
Then again, Cousins is taking an extreme and irrational position. Maybe the Vikings should fight fire with fire, and move on from a guy who clearly has no future in Minnesota beyond the expiration of his contract in two seasons, if he makes it that long.