If there is any bad blood between Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins and the franchise he spent the first six seasons of his NFL career with, he certainly didn't show it on Tuesday.
In anticipation of his first matchup against the Redskins since signing with Minnesota last offseason, Cousins was asked an array of questions regarding his time in the Burgundy and Gold. He spoke glowingly of the organization, thanking them numerous times for giving him a chance when no other team would.
"For me, when I think of my time in Washington, I think of the word gratitude," Cousins said to reporters in Minneapolis on Tuesday. "I'm so grateful to be drafted by them. When 31 teams hadn't picked me, the Redskins picked me. That means a great deal to me."
"I just have a tremendous memory of the games there, the teammates, the coaches, and I'm so grateful for the people I got to work with," Cousins continued. "The quarterback I am, the player I am and where I am in this league now is largely the result of the coaches I got to play for there and the way they impacted me, and the teammates I got to play with."
Cousins' career in Washington was quite the whirlwind. Drafted three rounds after the supposed-to-be franchise savior Robert Griffin III in 2012, Cousins spent the first three seasons of his career as a backup and a spot starter. But the combination of a concussion that Griffin suffered in the 2015 preseason and the overall ineffectiveness from the No. 2 overall pick led then-Redskins head coach Jay Gruden to name Cousins as the starter just prior to the season.
"I was given an opportunity to start when there weren't many people outside of that building that thought I should," Cousins said. They stuck by me."
Things weren't pretty at first. The Redskins dropped four of their first six games, with Cousins throwing just seven touchdowns and eight interceptions. Then in Week 7, everything changed.
"There was a stretch there where we were 2-4, many people thought it should be over, I shouldn't be playing," Cousins said." Then we had that comeback game against the Buccaneers, I yelled the words 'You like that!' and kind of never looked back."
The Redskins went on a tear, winning seven of their last 10 games, including the final four. Washington won the NFC East, and Cousins finished the year with 29 touchdown passes and just 11 interceptions.
Cousins' next two years in Washington weren't as successful as 2015, as the Redskins failed to make the postseason both seasons despite being on the cusp of a playoff berth each time. Neither side was able to agree to a long-term contract, with Cousins playing on the infamous franchise tag both years. Washington decided to trade for quarterback Alex Smith in January of 2018, marking the end of Cousins' tenure in Washington.
"That's not something I need to get into today. That's been well documented," Cousins said Tuesday on why the two sides weren't able to come to a long-term deal. "It's about winning a football game this week and trying to get to 6-2 before this long weekend."
While the end of Cousins' era in Washington wasn't pretty, he still had nothing but positive things to say about the Redskins.
"I'm just so grateful," Cousins said of his time in Washington. "I could list the names but I'd probably leave somebody out, but there were some special coaches and some special teammates and people in that organization that I'll relate to the rest of my life. When football is long over, I'll still be calling them and texting them. So that's the simple truth."
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