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Kirk Cousins, Lamar Jackson should both get vaccinated (along with everyone else)

Mike Florio compares the criticisms Kirk Cousins and Lamar Jackson have received about being unvaccinated and how it can affect their upcoming seasons.

A bizarre but predictable narrative has emerged from the various grievance-based commentators who cater to a certain percentage of the culture. It goes like this: Kirk Cousins got destroyed for not getting vaccinated, and Lamar Jackson has gotten a pass.

It’s a lazy and stupid but predictable take, one aimed at giving an audience that soaks up any and all instances of actual or perceived hypocrisy that these commentators will happily spit out, with one eye on the copy and the other on the cash register.

Both Cousins and Jackson should get vaccinated. All NFL players should get vaccinated. Starting quarterbacks, the leaders of their teams, should be at the front of the line. An alarming number of them (many of whom are hiding behind HIPAA or other flimsy excuses) aren’t.

They all should be vaccinated. Everyone should be vaccinated. We’ve been clear on that for months.

The difference in the treatment of Cousins and Jackson comes in large part from how they’ve handled the situation. Cousins, after missing five days of practice because he was a close contact of an unvaccinated teammate who caught COVID, launched into an extended monologue about his vaccination status, vowing to ensconce himself in plexiglass and otherwise do whatever it takes to avoid the virus (other than getting vaccinated, of course). Jackson hasn’t said much publicly; when he recently did, he didn’t close the door on getting vaccinated after his second bout with COVID.

For Cousins, there’s absolutely nothing that will get him to change his position. That’s one of the reasons he was so aggressively called out.

Indeed, Cousins made his views on the virus clear last year, when he told Kyle Brandt, “If I die, I die.” Cousins also made abundantly clear at that time his disdain for using masks to protect himself from the virus.

“On a spectrum of one -- masks are stupid and you’re all a bunch of lemmings -- and 10 is I’m not leaving my master bathroom for 10 years, where do you land?” Brandt asked Cousins.

“I’m not going to call anybody stupid for the trouble it could get me in, but I’m about a 0.0001,” Cousins said.

Let’s be clear on what he said. Brandt’s scale set as one “masks are stupid and you’re all a bunch of lemmings” -- and Cousins went four orders of magnitude BELOW that.

Then there’s the stuff that came to light about his father’s congregation in Orlando, information that perhaps helped fill the void created by Cousins refusing to explain why he won’t get vaccinated.

Jackson has none of that floating around, which provides far less of a basis for anyone calling him out, beyond (like many others) his decision for now to not get vaccinated.

On top of everything else, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer has made his exasperation with anti-vaxxers known. Ravens coach Jim Harbaugh hasn’t said a word. That infuses even more tension into the situation in Minnesota.

Finally, Cousins generally is regarded as a guy who has gamed the system (and kudos to him for doing it) to get maximum money for not-maximum talent. He knows that he can truly earn that money only by being available to play. He knows that, no matter what he does to fend off the virus, he’ll be tested every single day -- and he could be knocked out of action on any/every given day (and for at least 10 days after that) with a single positive test. Jackson, a league MVP, hasn’t gotten his second contract yet. He’s not making, on average, more than $2 million per game. And he’s regarded as a much better quarterback than Cousins; a clear-cut top-10 performer while Cousins struggles to stay in the upper half of the league.

Those are the various reasons for the different reaction to Cousins. But some refuse to consider the broader circumstances and instead focus on superficialities in order to feed an audience that is perpetually seeking grievances that justify their ideologies. And those who are boiling it down to something as basic as “the white quarterback gets criticized and the Black quarterback doesn’t” know damn well what they are doing.