The Minnesota Vikings have placed quarterback Kirk Cousins on the COVID-19 list after he tested positive for the virus. They've activated Sean Mannion as an answer and indications are the journeyman signal-caller will get the start under center on Sunday night in Green Bay with all playoff hopes on the line. Backup Kellen Mond is also unvaccinated and could end up on the list as a close contact with Cousins. The reverse happened during this preseason when Mond tested positive and Cousins was sidelined.
It is quite obviously not an ideal situation for the Vikings, who have a 46 percent chance to make the postseason with a road win and a two percent to make it with a loss. This is the exact nightmare situation that Zimmer has wanted to avoid and the one he's been publicly campaigning against all season. No coach in the NFL has expressed more frustration with their unvaccinated players and now no coach may have their future as directly impacted by those decisions.
"I am disappointed that this happened,” Zimmer said back in August. “I’m frustrated with, not just my football players that won’t get vaccinated, I’m frustrated with everybody … It’s disappointing.”
We all understand that vaccination status is not the only factor in who contracts the virus and who doesn't. We should all understand that the path to playing football games is clearer for those who have gotten the shot. It may not be entirely fair to victim-blame Cousins for this rapidly accelerating disaster, but he certainly did not do everything he could to be available for his team when it mattered. Football coaches aren't fountains of philosophy but they are entirely correct when they growl that availability is the best ability.
Cousins let his team down. And in a different way than those who were vaccinated yet still sidelined. The court of public opinion is going to let him have it and if you want to defend him, it's your God-given right. It won't make Sunday night any easier nor will it make Vikings fans, already exasperated with the limitations he's shown at the position for all these years, feel any better. Especially when they remember Cousins comes with a $45 million cap hit next year.
At 7-8 there is growing speculation Zimmer would need to make the tournament in order to keep his job. Barring an unforeseen explosion of competence from Mannion, that won't happen. Mannion last saw action in 2019 and has never thrown an NFL touchdown, so good luck with that.
A penny for Zimmer's unvarnished thoughts right now may not be enough.