18-Year Veteran QB Casts Doubt on Kirk Cousins’ Ability to Lead Vikings

Kirk Cousins

Getty Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins

Few quarterbacks are more fitting of a journeyman than Josh McCown.

McCown, 41, has played for 12 teams across his 18-year NFL career. He’s fit in however he’s needed: as a starter, backup or emergency practice-squad quarterback.

His adaptability and willingness to put the team first have made him a well-respected player in the league.

McCown recently weighed in on the controversy surrounding Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins‘ vaccination status that’s become a pain point for the franchise.

McCown respects Cousins’ personal belief and choice to remain unvaccinated. However, he did take issue with how that choice may impact the team.

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 ‘I Think That Takes Away From Some of Your Ability to Lead’

In an interview with Pioneer Press reporter Chris Tomasson, McCown considered how Cousins’ decision might hamper the 32-year-old signal caller’s ability to lead the Vikings.

“Obviously, we have a personal choice, and that’s a freedom that he has,” McCown said, per Tomasson. “But I think in the realm of a team and understanding everything we do about the science and the safety of it, I would just say it would be hard week in and week out for a quarterback to say, ‘Hey, I’m all for my team, but I’m not going to do this except for this.’ ”

Cousins has harped his diligence to follow protocols, which will be considerably more strict as an unvaccinated player this season. Cousins got a taste of the new NFL COVID-19 protocols when he was forced to miss five days of training camp due to a “high-risk” close contact with a COVID-19 positive Kellen Mond, who was unvaccinated at the time.

Had it been the regular season, Cousins would have likely been out on gameday.

“Obviously, he has a firm belief in his systems of beliefs that are leading him to say, ‘I don’t want to vaccinate,’ and that’s his business,” McCown said. “But given the effect and the impact that it can have on a team, we don’t share the same beliefs on that aspect. And 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. But even then, I think that takes away from some of your ability to lead.”

McCown, who has the same agent as Cousins, has not talked to the Vikings quarterback about the issue. McCown, who is vaccinated, reiterated that he respects Cousins’ personal choice, per Tomasson.

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Cousins is Not Alone

McCown’s questioning of Cousins’ ability to lead has merit, however, he’s not alone in his vaccination status on the Vikings roster.

Of the 69 players on the Vikings’ active roster and practice squad, at least 13 are either unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated, per the Star Tribune. Twelve of those players are on the 53-man roster and include five starters: Cousins, Dalvin Cook, Adam Thielen, Dalvin Tomlinson and Harrison Smith.

NFL Media reported Friday that the leaguewide vaccination rate remains at 93% after final roster cuts. The Vikings’ rate is, at best, 81.2%, the Star Tribune reported.

The proverbial rift in the locker room may not nearly be as big of an issue with many Vikings leaders unvaccinated.

However, the “next man up” mentality doesn’t carry over to the quarterback position.

There’s sparse depth behind Cousins in third-round rookie Kellen Mond and Sean Mannion. No position would be impacted more by a COVID-19-related absence than quarterback, which places added scrutiny on Cousins entering the 2021 season.