Kyle Brandt's Princeton education often shows during his interviews. He knows how to get through to people and get some startling answers out of them. Only four episodes into his new podcast series, he's already done that with two of the four NFC North starting quarterbacks.
First came Aaron Rodgers, who starred in the debut episode of "10 Questions With Kyle Brandt" and cast doubt on his future with the Packers. Next was Kirk Cousins, on the fourth episode, who basically explained that he doesn't think masks do anything to prevent coronavirus and that he's ready to accept any consequences of the illness.
Stay with me here.
It started off with Cousins explaining how there are varying degrees of concern regarding the pandemic within the Vikings organization.
"I even think within the building there's gonna be a dichotomy of people who couldn't care less about the virus, have no concern about it and never lost a minute of sleep about it, and then you get people on the other side of the spectrum who, every second of every day, they're consumed with fear about it," Cousins said. "And so, what you don't know is who's where on the spectrum when you first go back."
Cousins says he factors in his audience and the situation into deciding how cautious to be, but he made it clear as to what side of the aforementioned "spectrum" he places himself on. Brandt put it in terms that are easy to analyze.
"On that spectrum, if 1 is the person who says, 'masks are stupid, you all are a bunch of lemmings,' and 10 is, 'I'm not leaving my master bathroom for the next 10 years,' where do you land?" Brandt asked.
I'd put myself at around a 7, for what it's worth. My dad is a pulmonologist, so I err on the side of caution based on all of the information I'm receiving, and I have asthma -- which probably doesn't mean much, but makes me uneasy regardless. However, I still will go to an outdoor restaurant to see friends, and will alway raise my level of concern so that the least comfortable member of a given group feels safe.
So, where did Cousins place himself? At a .000001 -- which, by the way, isn't on a spectrum from 1 to 10. It's below the "masks are stupid" level that Brandt laid out.
"Again, I want to respect what other people's concerns are," Cousins said. "But for me personally, if you're just talking no one else can get the virus, what is your concern if you could get it, I would say I'm gonna go about my daily life. If I get it, I'm gonna ride it out. I'm gonna let nature do its course. A survival-of-the-fittest kind of approach, and just say, if it knocks me out, it knocks me out. I'm gonna be okay.
"You know, even if I die. If I die, I die. I kind of have peace about that. So that's really where I fall on it, so my opinion, wearing a mask... it's really about being respectful to other people, it really has nothing to do with my own personal thoughts."
Brandt had no further questioning on the matter after that statement.
Cousins tried to clarify those comments on Wednesday when meeting with media.
“There’s plenty of reasons to wear a mask, social distance, and be very vigilant to help stop the spread of the virus,” he said. “That was the heart of what I was trying to say in July (when the podcast was recorded)/. Admittedly, I didn’t say it as clear as I would have liked to. I just want to share that same message again and hopefully articulate it a little better.”
Asked specifically about his mask comment, Cousins said, “I was addressing my own personal perspective. Everybody’s different. That’s what I was trying to say.”
Cousins, who did not apologize for his comments, was also asked if he regretted using the prhase “if I die, I die.”
“The heart behind it was just saying that I have peace if that were to happen,” he said. “That’s all I was wanting to say.”
Luckily, it seems as though Cousins will abide to the protocols in order to make his teammates feel comfortable. Even more luckily, not every NFL player is as carefree as Cousins is, or we likely wouldn't have an NFL season at all. Players who come off as carefree in the NBA and MLB -- Lou Williams and Mike Clevinger, for instance -- have to deal with the repercussions, even if they don't contract the virus.
The NFL isn't going to loosen up on guys with those behaviors, either. The league will fine players up to $50,000 for violating COVID-19 protocols, and is continuing to revise and update its policies in order to create the safest playing environment. Action kicks off on September 10.