Sometimes, it feels like Kirk Cousins is a walking Twitter argument.
The Vikings' quarterback stirred up some internet controversy and dialogue on Wednesday when, during an appearance on Spotify's 10 Questions podcast, he explained the way he views the current COVID-19 pandemic.
I don't think Cousins got a completely fair rub, but he didn't do himself any favors. Let's get right into it.
Here's Cousins' answer, when asked where his level of concern about the virus is, on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being consumed with fear:
"I'm not going to call anybody stupid, for the trouble it could get me in, but I'm about a .00001."
This is a rough start, because when you say something like that, it's very obvious that you want to call someone - or, in this case, probably a group of people - stupid. You're avoiding it because of the backlash, not because you actually believe it. Don't do that.
But the real firestorm came from what Cousins said when host Kyle Brandt asked him why his number was so low:
"I just - again, I want to respect what other people's concerns are. But for me, personally, if you're just talking, 'No one else can get the virus, what is *your* concern if *you* can get it,' I'm going to say, I'm going to go on 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 okay. Even if I die. If I die, I die, I kind of have peace about that. That's where I fall on it. My opinion, wearing a mask is about being respectful to other people. It really has nothing to do about my own personal thoughts."
This answer really has it all. The "if I die, I die" portion is obviously the spiciest part of the full quote, because Cousins welcoming death, when someone of his fabulous wealth could simply avoid the virus through diligence and safety measures, is... certainly something.
I do think there is at least something admirable in Cousins' answer. When he says that wearing a mask is about "being respectful to other people", he's right. Wearing a mask is more about protecting each other than it is about protecting yourself, which is why it's so crucial that even people in great physical shape (like Cousins) and who don't fear the virus (like Cousins) continue to wear masks to protect the more vulnerable. This is a point that seems to be lost on large swaths of the country: it's not about you.
But his argument about the survival of the fittest is... off. For one, death isn't the only adverse side affect of contracting COVID-19 - just ask Red Sox pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez, a pro athlete dealing with heart problems even after getting rid of COVID-19. And survival of the fittest isn't just a question of physical fitness, but also a question of mental fitness, like decision making and self-preservation. That half of the equation, much like a Super Bowl appearance, seems to have escaped Cousins.
Now, what does any of this have to do with Carson Wentz?
Lately, Wentz has shown himself to be the kind of guy who thinks before he speaks. He never puts himself into these kinds of situations. For Eagles fans, it's nice not worrying about what your quarterback - ostensibly the face of the franchise - is going to say next.
Earlier this summer, Wentz was asked about his approach to playing football during a pandemic. He started by saying he's 'not an idiot' about the seriousness and unpredictability, and he ended with this very solid view on how seriously to take safety measures:
"We're going to do everything we can as a team, especially as leaders, to make sure guys are handling their business, not just in the building but outside the building," Wentz said. "Who they're around, what they're going to do. It is going to look different and it is going to be a challenge, but I think we in Philly are up for it. Hopefully everyone around the league is up for it as well."
That's being a responsible leader.
Wentz has also been a leader this summer in admitting his own personal blind spots on America's national conversation about, and ongoing struggles with, race and systemic racism, and has used his unique platform to become an ally and champion for meaningful change.
As NBC Sports Philadelphia's Reuben Frank discussed last week, that's being a responsible leader.
I don't think Cousins was malicious in his answers this week. I do think he needs to work on his communication.
And I know that Wentz is beyond that problem.