Earlier this week, quarterback Kirk Cousins signed a three-year deal with the Minnesota Vikings worth $84 million. This was, reportedly, approximately $6 million less than the New York Jets offered, and every penny still would have been guaranteed. Now, I obviously don’t know the thought process that Cousins and his family went through, but he did express some of his reasoning at his press conference, and apparently this was enough to make a Jets beat writer very angry.
Brian Costello of the New York Post put together an article about how Cousins’ comments were “disrespectful” to New York, after which he went on to. . .completely disrespect the Twin Cities.
Are you kidding? Choosing Minnesota over the greatest city in the world? Choosing a place where fine cuisine is a Juicy Lucy (don’t ask) and high-end shopping is going to Target? Remember, Robert Zimmerman left Minnesota to become Bob Dylan in Greenwich Village. Do you enjoy temperatures below zero all winter, Kirk? Minnesota has 10,000 lakes. You know what comes with 10,000 lakes? About 1,000,000 mosquitoes.
Cousins chose the Mall of America over Madison Avenue. Enough said.
“Chose the Mall of America over Madison Avenue?” If his name was Kirk Kardashian, this would be troubling. But it’s not. There are many other factors that likely factored into Cousins’ decision, such as the tax reciprocity agreement that his home state of Michigan has with the state of Minnesota, so let’s take a look at some of those.
For starters, it’s a hell of a lot less expensive to live in Minnesota than it is to live in New York (or New Jersey, which is where the Jets actually play. . .don’t even get me started on that). The folks from the Tax Foundation do a study every year to show how far $100 will go in each state in the Union. The results of their 2017 study can be found right here, and it’s pretty favorable in Minnesota’s direction. According to their study, $100 will get you approximately $102.67 in goods and services. Now, that’s only good for the #29 rank among the 50 States. . .but that’s a hell of a lot better than New York and New Jersey, which rank at #47 and #49 on that list, respectively.
But enough about money. Let’s take a look at the football side of things.
The Vikings. . .
- Are coming off of a season that saw them go 13-3 and make a trip to the NFC Championship Game, with questions at quarterback all the way.
- Are coming off of their second division title in three seasons, despite questions at quarterback.
- Have a head coach that has averaged about ten wins per season since being hired as the head coach, despite having basically no stability at the quarterback position.
- Have a General Manager has been in place since 2012 and has done a pretty outstanding job of building the current roster.
- Just hired an offensive coordinator that reportedly really wanted his team to pursue Cousins when he was at his last job.
- Play in the best stadium in the National Football League.
- Just opened up what is probably the best office/training facility in the National Football League.
- Have a pair of receivers that are on the short list of best wide receiver duos in the National Football League.
- Have the best defense in the National Football League, and Cousins even helped to recruit another outstanding piece for that defense, which was nice of him.
The Jets. . .well, the Jets have none of those things. They’re coming off of a second consecutive 5-11 season where their head coach was rumored to be on the hot seat the whole way. Their best wide receiver from last season was just charged with nine crimes, including three felonies, and could spend a significant amount of time in the Florida State Penal League next season. On top of that, they just gave up a bunch of draft picks (including two second rounders in this year’s draft) to move up three spots in the upcoming draft. . .presumably to select a quarterback. Yes, I understand that the last one is, likely, a direct result of Cousins not signing with the Jets.
Basically, it appears that Cousins made his decision based on things other than who threw the most money in front of him. He was going to get a ton of money, and really the only distinction was whether he was going to become insanely rich or obscenely rich (and I’m not sure that $6 million is enough to make the distinction between the two). Given that Cousins had made nearly $44 million over the past two seasons in Washington thanks to the franchise tag, and that he doesn’t appear to be the type to spend extravagantly, perhaps this really was more about winning football games than it was about making money. Also, Cousins is a Midwest guy. He was born in Illinois and grew up in Michigan, and therefore might. . .get this. . .just like the idea of living and working in the Midwest more than the idea of living in New York (or, again, to be more accurate, New Jersey).
Costello’s article is, at its heart, a real crystallization of the attitude that many in the coastal empires have towards anyone that lives east of Interstate 5 and west of Interstate 95. (Believe me, this sort of garbage is every bit as prominent on the West Coast as it is on the East Coast, but that’s not our focus here.) We’ve seen it from Philadelphia ever since the week leading up to the 2017 NFC Championship Game, and now we’re seeing it from New York/New Jersey in this particular piece. They just can’t imagine that anyone would want to live anywhere west of Pittsburgh or south of Baltimore for any reason. Oh, and that the people that live there are “weak” or “soft” or whatever garbage it is they’re spewing on any particular day that ends in “y.” None of it is true, of course. Most of it doesn’t even make any sense. But, it’s what they do, and that’s fine.
Well, there are plenty of people that do want to live there, folks, and many of them do. For some, there are things that are more important than “Madison Avenue” or all of the alleged culture. I mean, seriously, how many times can you take the Sex and the City tour before the novelty wears off? Sure, the Jets offered more money, but maybe there are deeper reasons why Kirk Cousins, essentially, paid $6 million for the privilege of not being a New York Jet.
Kirk Cousins wants to win football games. Because he wants to win football games, he clearly made the right choice. Over the next three years, and possibly beyond, he’s going to win a lot of football games with Minnesota. Maybe the Jets will make Cousins regret his decision, maybe they won’t. But, knowing what we know right now and knowing what we know about Kirk Cousins, it appears as though he made the sane, logical choice.