Amid all of the praise that came Kirk Cousins‘ way after engineering the greatest comeback in NFL history on Saturday, it was a simple text from Frank Reich that perhaps most caught his attention.
Cousins had just quarterbacked the Minnesota Vikings to a 39-36 overtime win against the Indianapolis Colts after trailing 33-0 in the third quarter, tossing four second-half touchdowns (three in the fourth quarter). He threw for a career-high 460 yards, and the win moved the Vikings to 11-3 on the season and secured an NFC North title.
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What more could you ask for? pic.twitter.com/Bg7cs7RvLH
— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) December 17, 2022
Reich, who began the 2022 season as the Colts’ head coach but was fired in early November, wasn’t texting Cousins out of spite for his former team. See, the record for the largest comeback that Cousins and the Vikings broke on Saturday was held by the Buffalo Bills against the Houston Oilers in a January 1993 playoff game, when they overcame a 35-3 deficit to win in overtime, 41-38. The quarterback of that Bills team? Frank Reich.
Reich, the comeback record-holder for nearly 30 years, had some words of wisdom to share with the quarterback to whom he passed the torch.
According to Cousins, via Peter King of NBC Sports, Reich’s text said, “Kirk, for 30 years, that moment has given me an opportunity to share many things about football and life, tell people about my faith, and now the torch has been passed to you.”
“It was a powerful text,” Cousins said as he reflected on Reich’s words. “I already had a great deal of respect for Frank, but after that text, it went through the roof. I took what he said seriously.”
Reich confirmed to King that he reached out to Cousins in the aftermath of the history-making performance.
“Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to encourage lots of people because of that game (against the Oilers) — some with football lessons, some with lessons of spirituality. Maybe Kirk will be like me — maybe he’ll have 30 years of being able to use this as inspiration the way I was able to,” Reich said.
Reich was especially pleased that his comeback record was broken by someone who also shares his faith in Christ, noting the opportunity for Cousins to glorify God whenever he’s asked about the comeback. Both Reich and Cousins have been very vocal about their faith in Christ throughout their time in the NFL spotlight.
After Reich’s playing days came to a close in 1998, he received his Master of Divinity degree and served as president at the Charlotte campus of Reformed Theological Seminary while also pastoring a local church from 2003-06. After being called into coaching, he’s used his platform to speak about Jesus.
“The No. 1 goal is to magnify the name of Jesus Christ first and foremost above all things,” Reich said about his coaching platform in an interview with “Beyond the Game” co-host and Hall of Fame coach Tony Dungy in December 2019. “Whether it was in ministry or in coaching, no matter what I was going to choose to do, that was going to be my mission in life. … I really thought [ministry] might be it, but at the end of the day, I don’t think that was God’s calling on my life.”
"I want to give a personal account to where I've found my strength for the journey."@Colts head coach Frank Reich opens his press conference quoting the hymn "In Christ Alone" with the desire to encourage others to find strength in the Lord! pic.twitter.com/ii1iT7dxCf
— Sports Spectrum (@Sports_Spectrum) November 22, 2021
Meanwhile, the 34-year-old Cousins is finishing up his 11th NFL season (fifth in Minnesota) while remaining vocal about his own faith. A couple years ago, Cousins resolved to fill his mind more clearly with passages of Scripture by reading the Bible from cover to cover. He said in an October 2021 podcast with Vikings radio announcer Paul Allen that it took him over a year, but once he finished, he started right back at the beginning to do it again.
“It’s been a very productive exercise,” he said on the podcast, “just reading a little bit every day. I just believe that God’s Word is exactly that: It’s the Word of God and I treat it as the playbook for life. You know, we have a playbook on the football field as sort of our lifeline to our success on the field. And I believe that God’s Word is a lifeline to my success in life and to my ability to relate well to others and for life to work well as a husband, as a parent, as a friend.
“The Word of God is such a foundational component to my life, so for it to be that, I’ve got to be in it. I’ve got to be reading it. I’ve got to be studying it. I’ve got to be talking about it. I’ve got to be learning about it. It’s just a big part of my life.”
“And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
— Kirk Cousins (@KirkCousins8) February 12, 2019
The quarterbacks, one former and one current, are bonded in their shared experience of executing historic comeback performances on a football field. Yet what bonds the two infinitely more is their shared inheritance in Christ and the opportunity to bring glory to His name through their sport.
Cousins will seek to continue to live in the light of Christ as he and the rest of the Vikings vie for positioning in the NFC playoff race. Minnesota is second in the conference, one game ahead of the San Francisco 49ers and two games behind the Philadelphia Eagles. The Vikings next play at home against the New York Giants (8-5-1) on Saturday at 1 p.m. ET.
– QB Kirk Cousins leads Vikings to incredible win, stays steadied by God’s Word
– Colts coach Frank Reich encourages those struggling, points to ‘Christ alone’
– Colts head coach Frank Reich says trusting Lord’s plan key to coaching success
– Frank Reich’s journey from pastor to Indianapolis Colts head coach
– WATCH: ‘Sports Spectrum Football Special’ – Kirk Cousins & Sam Acho