This story appears in the Fall 2018 issue of Sports Spectrum Magazine. To subscribe, click here.
Kirk Cousins lingered in perennial uncertainty, but followed God’s call to a home in Minnesota
The Minnesota Vikings went 13-3 in 2017, logging their best regular season since 1998, dethroning the Green Bay Packers as NFC North champions for just the second time in almost a decade, and advancing to within one game of the Super Bowl.
A big reason for that was their quarterback, who had a career year and capped it off with a “Minneapolis Miracle.”
And yet the Vikings entered 2018 with QB atop their wish list. Their “No. 1 priority,” as general manager Rick Spielman told the media in March, was one-upping their own signal-caller.
With the bar already set dangerously close to the ceiling, it was no surprise, then, that Minnesota pulled out all the stops when it did find its new quarterback. Fresh off the unveil of its luxurious new headquarters, the team was not content to have only Spielman and head coach Mike Zimmer introduce their fresh face of the franchise. That’s why team owner Mark Wilf was part of the public welcome party, a direct-from-the-top stamp of approval on the $84-million contract that made it all possible — the first multi-year, fully guaranteed deal for a QB in NFL history, and the richest per-year agreement among all NFL QBs at the time.
“It’s a rare and unique opportunity to go out and sign a quarterback of this caliber,” Spielman said.
That quarterback? His name is Kirk Cousins.
How you know Cousins is another question. Is he the former fourth-round draft pick who rightfully usurped Robert Griffin III as Washington’s franchise QB, posting a better passer rating than everyone except Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Matt Ryan since 2015? Is he just OK when he’s needed most, going 4-19 against teams with winning records? Is he overpaid, a beneficiary of ballooning one-year salaries? Is he underpaid, making just $500,000 more per year than a QB in Jimmy Garoppolo who has seven career starts?
The Vikings will tell you he’s one thing: their guy. His new teammates, some of whom have seen seven different QBs start for Minnesota in the last five years, will tell you they’re glad that’s the case.
“You can see the excitement in him,” newly paid pass rusher Danielle Hunter said after a June practice.
Deep down, however, Cousins also sees this next chapter as something bigger than a better shot at a Super Bowl, the biggest contract of his life or the head-over-heels adoration from Vikings executives that ushered him to the Midwest. For him, at its core, this is all just the next step of a faith journey he holds dear.
“We believe that it’s important, as you walk through life, to hear and respond to the voice of God,” Cousins said.
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