The reaction from Kirk Cousins got a lot of praise a few weeks ago.
Not long after learning he had torn his Achilles tendon, television the cameras caught Cousins cheering on the Vikings as they tried to hold on for a win over the rival Green Bay Packers. It was a heartwarming moment from the 35-year-old quarterback amid a tragic situation.
As much as he was projecting positivity in real time, Cousins admitted that negativity started to take over as he got carted off the playing surface at Lambeau Field. He looked at his surroundings and the thought crossed his mind. Was that the last time he would ever play in the NFL?
Now, a few weeks later, Cousins has come to the conclusion that it’s not going to be. Talking to reporters for the first time since suffering the major injury, Cousins reiterated that he isn’t done playing in the NFL. He fully intends to make a comeback and emphasized that he’s excited to write the next chapter in his career.
“There’s more to the story up ahead,” he said Friday at TCO Performance Center. “That’s what I really believe at the core of my being.”
Though everybody knows how serious the injury turned out to be, at the time, Cousins initially thought he had sprained his ankle. He had done that a number of times in the past, and thus, he figured he might be able to work his way back into the game at some point. Then he tried to take a step.
“I felt no ground,” Cousins said. “I was like, ‘OK, that’s a problem.’ ”
He literally hopped to the sideline without assistance, then sat down on the bench, proclaiming that it wasn’t as bad as it seemed at first glance.
“I said, ‘I don’t think I tore it; I just can’t press my foot down,’ ” Cousins said with a laugh. “Basically saying everything that would suggest I tore it.”
It wasn’t until he got examined by Dr. Chris Coetzee in the medical tent that reality started to set in.
“He basically went like that for half a second,” Cousins said as he mimicked the way Coetzee squeezed the back part of his calf. “He goes, ‘Yeah, you tore it.’ He told me to take a second and they would bring the cart out. I laid back on the table and took a deep breath kind of like, ‘OK.’ ”
He went on Google later that night and looked up the five stages of grief, which include denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. It’s not a linear process by any means. That is something Cousins has learned firsthand over the past few weeks.
Sometimes he’s mad. Sometimes he’s sad. Sometimes he’s everything all at once. There are fleeting instances of acceptance sprinkled in here and there.
“I can’t change it, so I’ve got to move forward,” Cousins said. “This is what we sign up for when we step between the white lines.”
After having successful surgery earlier this month, Cousins has been spotted around around TCO Performance Center wearing a walking boot. He also has been encouraged by head coach Kevin O’Connell to stay involved with the team as he slowly starts to work his way back to 100 percent.
As for what his future with the Vikings holds beyond this season, Cousins noted that while he would like to stay with the organization for the rest of his career, he understands that it isn’t up to him alone.
“You can want a lot of things,” he said. “It doesn’t mean it’s going to happen.”
Those conversations will happen when his contract officially expires after this season.
“It’s not time yet,” Cousins said. “We’ve got so much to focus on here with this season. The guys are playing so well. That’s really where the attention needs to be.”
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