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Kirk Cousins Says He's Not Worried about COVID-19: "If I Die, I Die"

The Vikings quarterback made these coronavirus comments on a podcast with Kyle Brandt.

Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins has caused a bit of stir on Twitter with some comments about COVID-19 that he made a couple weeks ago.

He was featured on an episode of the Ringer podcast "10 Questions With Kyle Brandt" that was released on Wednesday morning, and many people quickly took notice of what Cousins had to say on the topic of the coronavirus.

Specifically, the fact that he described himself as being not even remotely afraid of a virus that caused a global pandemic and has killed 185,000 Americans.

"On a spectrum of 1 – masks are stupid and you’re all a bunch of lemmings – and 10 is ‘I’m not leaving my master bathroom for the next 10 years,’" Brandt asked. "Where do you land?”

“I’m not going to call anybody stupid for the trouble it could get me in," Cousins responded. "But I’m about a .0001."

Asked to elaborate, here's what Cousins had to say:

“I want to respect other people’s concerns, but for me personally, if you’re talking no one else can get the virus, what is your concern if you could get it? I would say I’m going to go about my daily life. If I get it, I’m going to ride it out. I’m going to let nature do its course. Survival-of-the-fittest kind of approach and just say, if it knocks me out, it knocks me out. I’m going to be OK. You know, even if I die. If I die, I die. I kind of have peace about that."

That "if I die, I die" part is what's blowing up on social media, and understandably so. But it's worth pointing out that just because Cousins doesn't believe in masks, he stills wears them out of respect for others (and, probably, because he has to in the Vikings' facility when he's not practicing, per NFL protocols).

“That’s really where I fall on it, so my opinion of wearing a mask is really being respectful to other people," Cousins said. "It really has nothing to do with my own personal thoughts.”

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Brandt also asked Cousins what he would do if someone sneezes in the huddle, leading to a lengthy and interesting answer.

“I even think in the building there’s going to be a dichotomy of people who couldn’t care less about the virus, have no concern about it, haven’t lost a minute of sleep about it," Cousins said." And then you get people on the other side of the spectrum who every second of every day they’re consumed with fear about it. So what you don’t know is who’s where on the spectrum when you first go back. Some of it is when you’re with a smaller group and you know everyone in the group, you know, is not as concerned, then is there a way to not freak out when someone sneezes?

"The flip side is, yeah, if you’re in a huddle and you know one of these guys is definitely concerned about it, you’re not going to disrespect him and sneeze in his face. So we’ve just got to factor in our audience and the situation, but, I mean, they’re talking about wearing face shields. I don’t know how we’re going to breathe at practice if we’re doing that. But at the same time, if that’s the protocol and we have to abide by it to have a season, we have to find a way to make it work.”

Cousins was one of many players in June to call out the NFL on Twitter for the lack of information given on player safety. He told Brandt that "it became harder to feel comfortable going back to camp" without that information.

You can listen to the full podcast on Spotify here. The coronavirus discussion starts at around the ten-minute mark.

Here's the thing about Cousins' comments. On the one hand, I think it might be getting lost on Twitter that he didn't say he doesn't wear a mask. But on the other hand, that doesn't mean his stance on COVID-19 isn't incredibly dumb. This was a good point from SI's Dan Gartland:

One thing that continues to boggle the mind, six months after the pandemic exploded in the United States, is how many people approach this disease as a life-vs.-death binary. It’s true that a guy like Cousins is unlikely to die from COVID-19, but what about the long-term heart damage we’re seeing in college football players? Even if you don’t have any long-lasting negative health effects from the virus, getting sick is still no fun. Just ask Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman, who said he was hit so hard by the coronavirus that his fever spiked to 104.5 degrees one night and he prayed, “Please don’t take me.”

Regardless, it's just a stupid thing for a prominent NFL player to comment on publicly. This is a global pandemic that has caused incredible loss of life in the United States, and he's part of a league that is trying to take extreme protocols in order to successfully pull off a season during the ongoing pandemic.

Saying that he's a ".0001" on the 1-10 scale means he thinks masks are incredibly dumb, which is a dangerous thing for a person in a position of leadership and influence to say. The "if I die, I die" part also comes off as flippant and bizarre for someone with two young children. 

I'm glad Cousins wears a mask and I respect his right to his own opinion, even if I disagree with it. But maybe next time, just keep that one to yourself, Kirk.