Kirk Cousins isn't afraid of getting COVID-19 or dying from it, but the Vikings quarterback clarified Wednesday afternoon that he's wearing a mask, social distancing and taking proper precautions to "respect other people's concerns" amid the pandemic.
Cousins came under criticism for an interview on "10 Questions with Kyle Brandt," which was published Wednesday morning but was conducted in July. In it, he talked about how he planned to handle the coronavirus pandemic with teammates and the uncertainty facing the 2020 NFL season. He was also asked about wearing masks, saying while he "wants to respect" concerns of others about COVID-19, he does not share those concerns and isn't afraid of the worst outcome for himself.
"I want to respect other people's concerns," Cousins said in July. "But for me, personally, if you're talking no one else can get the virus, what is your concern you could get it? I'd say, I'm going to go about my daily life. If I get it, I'm going to ride it out. I'm going to let nature do its course, uh, 'survival of the fittest' kind of approach and just say if it knocks me out, it knocks me out. I'm going to be OK. Even if I die, I die. I kind of have peace about that. That's really where I fall on it, so my opinion on wearing a mask is really about being respectful to other people. It really has nothing to do with my personal thoughts."
Cousins was first asked by Brandt: "On that spectrum, if 1 is the person who says masks are stupid, you're all a bunch of lemmings, and 10 is I'm not leaving my master bathroom for the next 10 years, where do you land?"
"I'm not going to call anybody stupid for the trouble it could get me in," Cousins said, "but I'm about a 0.000001."
He raised eyebrows after more than 185,000 COVID-19 deaths in the United States during the pandemic and politicized debates over masks, but he said Wednesday afternoon that the "heart" behind his comments remains unchanged.
"What I wanted to say then, what I would echo again now," he told reporters, "is that while the virus does not give me a great amount of personal fear, there's still great reason for me to engage in wearing a mask and social distancing and washing my hands as frequently as I can and following protocols that have been set in place. Obviously, to be respectful and considerate of other people, which is very important, but then also to be available for all 16 games this fall."
Cousins said he was speaking for only himself with the "0.000001" comment.
"I just don't have a great deal of personal fear surrounding contracting the virus," Cousins said. "Again, that's unique to my circumstances, unique to my situation. Lot of factors that are unique to me and would be extremely different to any number of other people."
The Vikings obviously care if Cousins tests positive for COVID-19, because he could miss playing time or transmit the virus to others on the team, not to mention experience possible health complications.
On Tuesday, the NFL announced new protocols requiring coaches and staffers on sidelines to wear masks during games. If a team is allowing spectators at its home stadium, fans also must wear masks. All players and personnel are required to wear masks inside team facilities this season.
During the July interview, Cousins talked about feeling out teammates' concerns and respecting them. The Vikings' COVID-19 list has been empty since Aug. 13.
On Wednesday, he reiterated a scenario where he's the only one affected by the virus.
"That's why hypotheticals don't work very well," Cousins said. "I was just saying, if nobody else is going to get it, I'm OK. I'll be OK. I'm at peace with that for me. Certainly, if you wanted to superimpose that onto yourself, then certainly it'd be a comment I wasn't ever intending for it to be turned into."
Cousins' devout Christian faith informs his perspective on his own mortality, which became a viral topic on social media Wednesday after his "if I die, I die" remarks became public.
"I have peace," Cousins said. "I don't believe I control the outcome of my life. There are many things out of my control, but obviously my faith is at the foundation of my life, and I trust the Lord to handle things."