EAGAN, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins was activated Thursday from the COVID-19 reserve list after completing the NFL’s required five-day quarantine for unvaccinated players deemed a high-risk close contact with an infected person.
Admittedly frustrated by the rarity of him missing practice, Cousins vowed to go to even greater lengths to create social distancing and avoid another absence — even if it means setting up Plexiglas around his seat or “meeting outside under a goal post in January.”
As for getting vaccinated, as the league has urged, Cousins described his stance as “a very private health matter” but declined to elaborate further.
“I do believe that as a leader of the team it’s very important to follow the protocols to avoid this close contact, because that is what it’s going to come down to,” Cousins said.
He later added: “I’m at peace with where I’m at, and I’ll follow the protocols vigilantly.”
The reason Cousins triggered the high-risk close contact quarantine period, he said, was that the Vikings discovered the quarterback meeting room was too small to allow proper distancing — not that he was actually too close to Mond. The quarterbacks have since moved to a different space.
“I worked on my own, did all the virtual meetings, was able to do the best I could with the situation we had. I do believe the protocols work, and that’s why I believe I didn’t have COVID after being in a meeting room like that, because the mask and the social distancing works,” Cousins said.
The league’s updated virus protocols for 2021 allow vaccinated players to stay on schedule and continue practicing even if they experience close contact with an infected person, as long as they test negative themselves. Unvaccinated players are subject to the stricter 2020 rules for quarantining, testing and socializing.
The Vikings, as of Tuesday, had the lowest percentage (70) of vaccinated players in the NFL, according to a person with knowledge of the data. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team-by-team figures were not being publicized. The leaguewide rate of players who’ve received at least one dose hit the 90% mark earlier this week.
Coach Mike Zimmer has bluntly expressed his frustration with the vaccine holdouts, not only in the locker room but in public, with the Delta variant fueling another nationwide surge in COVID-19 cases.
Cousins has started his 10th year in the NFL, his fourth with the Vikings. His salary cap charge ($31 million) is the second highest in the league this season, behind Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson. Cousins has a fully guaranteed $35 million salary on the books for 2022, with a $45 million hit to the salary cap in the final year on his current contract.