Kirk Cousins is surprisingly amenable to the impacts of social distancing on football so far.
With the coronavirus pandemic threatening the start of the NFL season, the Vikings quarterback remains steadfast that playing football is the utmost importance, even if it means there are no fans.
“So as long as we’re playing the game, I won’t have a lot of complaints, and hopefully if it’s still not returned to normal, we can find a way to make it work,” Cousins said on a conference call. “Honestly, to go out and just play the game would kind of be refreshing, a breath of fresh air, to just let us know that we don’t have to have all the smoke and the fire. We can just play football.”
The two-time Pro Bowler emphasized that players are already accustomed to training with simulated fanfare.
“Honestly, we practice every day in an empty grass area and pump in fake crowd noise for away games. But more often than not, you’re used to it,” Cousins said. “OTA practices don’t have a lot of pomp and circumstance to them.”
The Vikings will begin virtual OTAs this month.
The Michigan State product, who signed a two-year, $66 million contract extension on March 16, has been working with his trainer remotely and playing catch with his neighbor and brother to stay in shape, which he describes as, “surprisingly efficient.”
“I had my doubts, but I’m using technology to connect with my trainer, and I have enough equipment around the house that I can get a pretty good workout in,” Cousins said. “Physically, I feel really good. … I think my shoulder has been getting a lot of good work. I honestly feel like I’m in the same shape I’d be in if we’d had a normal life for the last month-and-a-half. I’m glad to have found a rhythm that works for me.”
Virtual training sessions and empty stadiums may become a new reality for athletes across many sports. NIH physician Anthony Fauci, who is part of the White House’s coronavirus task force, thinks it’s possible for sports to return in the foreseeable future, but with austere restrictions.
“There’s a way of doing that,” Dr. Fauci said in a Snapchat interview on Tuesday. “Nobody comes to the stadium. Put them in big hotels, wherever you want to play, keep them very well surveilled and have them tested every week and make sure they don’t wind up infecting each other or their family, and just let them play the season out.”