In 2022, Kirk Cousins received a new general manager, head coach, and offensive scheme after the Minnesota Vikings moved on from “the old” in January.
He’s also utilizing a different sport for an offseason training regimen — tennis.
Tennis.com featured Cousins’ implementation of the sport as an offseason tool, with the Vikings one week away from training camp. Rookies report on July 24th, and veterans follow two days later.
Cousins elaborated on the tennis dabbling, “I love the sport. I was looking for a way to train in the off-season and not just do boring training, but do something fun.”
Other football players have turned to tennis for recreation, too. Former Vikings left tackle Bryant McKinnie routinely plays the sport — he dances, too — for his athleticism upkeep. And McKinnie has been retired from the NFL for eight years. Likewise, Mac Jones, the quarterback of the New England Patriots, was a tennis player as a youth before fully pivoting to football and leading the Alabama Crimson Tide.
Moreover, Cousins pondered an alternative sport before setting on tennis, “Thought about pickup basketball, but was concerned about the risk of injury, so ended up doing tennis and just fell in love with it. Didn’t realize just how much it would carry over to playing quarterback. Can’t get enough of it,” he told Tennis.com.
The Vikings signed Cousins after an unexpected adventure to the conference title game in 2017. Led by Case Keenum, Minnesota jaunted to the final game before the Super Bowl, losing to the Philadelphia Eagles four years ago. In the months following the defeat, ex-general manager Rick Spielman scooped Cousins out of free agency — at a humongous price tag — to be the final piece of the puzzle. In four seasons, Cousins has led the Vikings to the playoffs once, winning one postseason game versus the New Orleans Saints but losing the following week to the San Francisco 49ers in 2019.
Now, Cousins will get a taste of life after Mike Zimmer, a defensive-minded head coach who skippered the Vikings for eight seasons. Cousins and Zimmer never appeared to be gridiron soulmates, so the quarterbacks will get a fresh start with Kevin O’Connell, who was Cousins’ quarterback coach in Washington for a year and helped the Los Angeles Rams win a Super Bowl as offensive coordinator five months ago.
Perhaps this tennis experiment is the tactic Cousins needs to fine-tune his talents to the next talent tier of the league’s quarterbacks.
Cousins turns 34 this summer.
Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sally from Minneapolis. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).