Kirk Cousins hasn't spoiled Vikings fans quite the way Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers have pampered the Packers faithful the past three decades, but even the most vociferous detractors in the Divided States of Kirkland have to admire the heck out of this guy's uncanny ability to stay on the field play-after-play-after-nearly-every-single-play since he arrived five seasons ago.
This thought has come to mind while watching quarterbacks drop left and right this season — from San Francisco to Miami, New York to New Orleans. From Dallas to twice in 16 snaps for Bill Belichick, whose GOATness includes taking Aaron Rodgers down to the final tick of overtime at Lambeau Field with third-string rookie fourth-rounder Bailey Zappe relieving second-string AARP member Brian Hoyer, who made it only 15 snaps after starting for Mac Jones, who was injured on New England's final offensive snap the week before.
Cousins arrived in Minnesota in 2018 as a guy who gambled not only on his talented arm but his durability, the mother of all traits favored by Bud Grant, still the ultimate Upper Midwest face of the Vikings' 61-year-old franchise. Cousins shrugged when Washington gave him not one but two one-year franchise tags before leaving to become the first NFL player to have a multiyear contract fully guaranteed.
Five years later, he has stockpiled $140 million of the Wilfs' money, according to overthecap.com. His sometimes-rose-colored super fans and oftentimes-too-bitter haters dig in daily via Twitter and other poisonous venues to spew anger wrapped up in stellar stats (130 touchdowns, 40 interceptions) and a passive playoff record (1-1).
Meanwhile, Cousins keeps showing up. Week after week. Series after series. Snap after snap. Win after loss, loss after win.
His first backup in Minnesota, Trevor Siemian, made $1,907,000 for 2018. Snaps Trevor played as a Viking: 0.
Cousins' second backup in Minnesota, Sean Mannion, made $3,209,700 for 2019-21. Snaps Sean played as a Viking: 105.
Cousins' current backup, Nick Mullens, is making $2 million this year. Snaps Nick has played as a Viking so far: 0.
Kellen Mond was former General Manager Rick Spielman's ill-timed and feeble attempt at setting this team up with an affordable quarterback of the not-too-distant future. Mond made $1,818,844 for 2021. Snaps Kellen played as a Viking before being whacked just short of his second season: 3.
Add it all up and Cousins has played 4,577 out of a possible 4,685 snaps (97.7%) in the 71 games the team has played since he became a Viking. He's missed two games, neither because of injury. He was rested for the playoffs in the final week of the 2019 season and was sidelined by COVID-19 for the Week 17 game in Green Bay last season. Other than that, he's played all but five of 4,582 snaps as a Viking.
Meanwhile, in San Francisco, Trey Lance, who's 12 years younger than Cousins, lasted 84 snaps before suffering a serious injury in his first year as the starter. In Dallas, Dak Prescott, who missed 11 games two years ago, has missed the past three games, giving rise to cult hero Cooper Rush becoming the first quarterback in NFL history to win his first four starts while recording a passer rating of 90 or better each time.
In MetLife Stadium on Sunday, Giants starter Daniel Jones sprained an ankle and left the game but had to re-enter because backup Tyrod Taylor suffered a concussion after only 12 snaps.
And in Miami, old friend Teddy Bridgewater will start this week — and probably a few more after that, at least — as the Dolphins deal with the fallout of starter Tua Tagovailoa being concussed in a violent body slam four days after he wobbled and fell twice following a hard hit. The Dolphins deemed the first incident a back injury and sent Tagovailoa back into the game, thereby keeping him out of the concussion protocol on a short week. The NFL players association has its doubts and has launched an investigation.
Meanwhile, in Minnesota, Mullens will wake up Sunday and do what backups in Minnesota have done while making millions of dollars the past half decade — watch from the sideline as Cousins starts for the 70th time while extending his snap count as a Viking to 4,578, 4,579, 4,580 …