EAGAN, Minn. – Teammates who have gotten to know Kirk Cousins closely haven't been surprised that people watching a documentary on him have been impressed by the quarterback.
Others have been able to see Cousins through the Netflix series, Quarterback, the way they've known him.
Newcomers to the team this year were able to get to know him better this week as well when Cousins addressed the entire Vikings team Thursday at the suggestion of Head Coach Kevin O'Connell.
"You could hear a pin drop in there," O'Connell said. "Then, just the excitement toward the end. Just how excited – hearing from our quarterback in that moment … was really important."
Though Cousins' leadership has long been lauded by his teammates, it's not often that he takes the proverbial mic for 30 minutes – and to the entire room.
O'Connell explained that in dialogue over the summer with different leaders on the team, Cousins had noted how aligned the messaging was with his own perspective.
"And just at this point in his career, you know, the old saying, 'knowing what I know now,' type of thing, why not share that information with your teammates. […] Understanding how important the relationships are, not to take for granted one moment we have together and how finite our opportunities are," O'Connell said. "So, I just thought, I wanted to give him the floor. He had mentioned maybe post-practice, maybe just for the offense, and I thought, 'No, you're going to stand up in front of our guys in our team meeting room.' "
Cousins' words were appreciated and taken to heart by all phases and positions throughout the auditorium at Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center.
Center Garrett Bradbury called Cousins the smartest person he's ever met, referencing not only his football I.Q. but his articulate nature, as well.
"He's so well-spoken. There aren't many guys who have had the experiences he's had and communicated the way he does," Bradbury said Saturday. "There's something that everyone in the entire locker room can learn from a guy like that.
"I've been so blessed, fortunate, to have him all five years," the 2019 first-round draft pick continued. "Because I've learned stuff from him every day. It's fun to play with a guy like that."
Bradbury acknowledged the frequency of communication in a center-quarterback relationship but explained that Cousins is intentional about getting to know and connect with all his teammates.
"That's the beauty of Kirk," he said.
During Bradbury's rookie year, he was next to Cousins in the Vikings locker room – in part of a row that also included receiver Adam Thielen, tight end Kyle Rudolph and guard Pat Elflein.
But after a year or two, Cousins approached the Vikings equipment staff and asked them to relocate his locker to the other side of the room.
"He told them, 'Hey, move me near some defensive guys. I want to be near some defensive guys. I see you guys all the time, and I want to get to know these guys a little bit better,' " Bradbury recalled. "He makes a big effort to build relationships and learn everyone on the team. I think the better you know someone, the better you're going to play and the more fun you're going to have playing with the guys you're around.
"This is Year 12 for him, so he gets it. He gets the big picture of it," Bradbury added. "And he knows all the little things matter."
Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Matt Daniels tipped his hat to Cousins for emphasizing the process of establishing an accomplished NFL career.
"He addressed the entire team with an unbelievable message about what he defines as success, what it takes to be in this league and, basically, what you have to do to stay in it," Daniels said. "It was a great message."
Receiver K.J. Osborn also appreciated the opportunity to hear from Cousins in a group setting.
"I think it was huge, man. I think one of the biggest messages was just 'Be a pro,' " Osborn said. "Everyone has their own different process. As a rookie, you're kind of coming in wide-eyed, trying to learn everything that's going on, and I think Kirk was able to give them – and us – a process of what he's done to have success in this league."
Osborn pointed to the portrayal of Cousins in Quarterback, saying it showed fans who Cousins really is.
"Sometimes you may not get a chance to see that unless you're able to spend a lot of 1-on-1 time with him," Osborn said. "I think it was really cool that he was able to share that throughout the team, to show them how much he prepares, how serious he is about his craft.
"Like I've said before," he added, "seeing Kirk and what he does every day, it makes me want to elevate my game, as well."