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Whitlock: NFL COVID policy turning quarterback Kirk Cousins into Muhammad Ali

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Minnesota Vikings QB Kirk Cousins (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

You don't have to agree with Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins' decision to remain unvaccinated against COVID-19, but you should respect his courage and conviction. It reminds me of Muhammad Ali.

Cousins spent a week in the NFL's COVID penalty box, the reserve/COVID-19 list. A Vikings backup quarterback, Kellen Mond, tested positive for COVID-19. Cousins came in close contact with Mond, and because Cousins is unvaccinated he was sent home and unable to practice with the team. The 32-year-old quarterback missed four practices.

"It was disappointing to miss practice," Cousins said Thursday when he was finally allowed to return to practice. "In my entire college and pro career, I have not missed four practices. So to miss four practices in one week and not have COVID was frustrating, disappointing."

Cousins told the media he remains committed to not taking the vaccine. He said he will follow the league's burdensome protocols for unvaccinated players. This pronouncement has put him in the corporate and social media crosshairs. He will likely remain a target of the vaxx mob throughout the season. Cousins signed a two-year, $66 million contract extension last year. The big paycheck puts a big target on Cousins' back.

There was a time when small segments of the mainstream media would rally around a public figure willing to defy the establishment and risk ridicule.

Muhammad Ali comes to mind. In fact, Cousins' noncompliance is analogous to Ali's bold stance to reject induction into the military. Ali stood on religious principle and common sense.

"I am a member of the black Muslims, and we don't go to no wars unless they're declared by Allah himself," Ali told Robert Lipsyte of the New York Times in 1967. "I don't have no personal quarrel with those Vietcongs."

Coincidentally, Ali never said "no Vietcong ever called me n****r." That's a Hollywood and corporate media fabrication. It was a popular phrase among anti-war protesters that was later attributed to Ali to give the declaration more weight and traction.

Ali was stripped of his heavyweight boxing title and banned from the sport for three years because of his draft refusal.

It's unlikely Cousins will face that level of backlash. However, he and other, healthy, in-their-prime professional athletes have no quarrel with those coronaviruses. No coronavirus ever called an NFL quarterback to a hospital bed. Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson has tested positive for it twice.

Maryland's Republican Gov. Larry Hogan is trying to pressure Jackson into getting the vaccine. He issued a statement two days ago about Jackson's vaxx status.

"With the rules the NFL put down, I can't imagine a team wanting to forfeit a game or lose a chance at the playoffs and none of the players getting paid because someone won't get a vaccine."

The criticism of Jackson will be muted. It's too high risk. He's black and we know corporate and social media fear criticizing black people. That's racist! Cousins doesn't have the right complexion for that connection. His critics are free to lambaste them however they please. Cousins' dad is apparently fair game.

The anti-Trump, pro-Colin Kaepernick Twitter feed Resist Programming spent much of Thursday attacking Don Cousins, Kirk's dad who is a minister at Discovery Church in Orlando, Florida. To his more than 1 million followers, former NBA player-turned-left wing Twitter troll Rex Chapman recirculated a video of Don Cousins complaining during a sermon that it's tough to hear the voice of God because of cancel culture and critical race theory in academia.

According to Twitter, Don Cousins' religious beliefs are a bad look for Kirk Cousins. You know, the same way Elijah Muhammad and Malcolm X's religious beliefs were a bad look for Muhammad Ali.

This isn't about whether you believe in Ali's anti-war stance, or his religious convictions. This is about consistency of point of view. You can't pretend to love Muhammad Ali and hate Kirk Cousins. It's inconsistent.

I can hear my critics. "Jason, it's inconsistent for you to respect Ali and ridicule Colin Kaepernick."

No. It's not. Ali stood on his religious convictions. Whether I agree with everything the Nation of Islam believes is irrelevant to me respecting a man or woman for upholding their religious tenets. Kaepernick, as far as I know, stands on no religious principle. He's a Marxist tool, a communist sympathizer. Black Lives Matter is an atheist movement. Kaepernick's stance was far more opportunistic than principled. Ali actually believed in his actions.

So does Kirk Cousins. His father and Christianity taught Cousins not to be controlled by irrational fear. Fear is what is driving vaccination insanity. Cousins does not fit the profile of someone who could be harmed by COVID. It makes perfect sense for him to be reluctant to inject an experimental, non-FDA-approved drug into his healthy body.

The people pressuring him to do so are not concerned with Cousins' health or the health of Cousins' family. They're concerned about themselves, including Cousins' head coach Mike Zimmer. Zimmer wants things to be easier for the Vikings and himself.

The rest of the vaxx mob just wants Cousins and everyone else to take the same risk they have in taking the experimental jab. It's a cult applying pressure to nonbelievers.

I respect Cousins' decision to stand firm in his beliefs.

This article has been updated.

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