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A National Treasure: Cousins & Smith Educating Conklin on Nicolas Cage Flicks

EAGAN, Minn. – If you didn't know it before, you do now: Kirk Cousins, Nic Cage guy.

The Vikings quarterback was mic'd up for Sunday's game against the Lions, and a portion of overheard dialogue before the game had nothing to do with Xs and Os. Rather, a 1994 film starring Cage, Guarding Tess.

"I've got another Nic Cage movie for you," Cousins told Vikings safety Harrison Smith.

A Guarding Tess fan myself (Shirley MacLaine is a gem!), this got me thinking. What's the deal with the Cage chatter? Does Cousins like all Cage movies? Is this a regular topic of conversation between the Vikings starting QB and All-Pro safety?

So, I asked Cousins about it during his Wednesday media session, adding a dose of hard-hitting Hollywood questions for the final couple of minutes.

Turns out, this topic will really energize Cousins, who lit up like Ben Gates connecting another clue in the National Treasure franchise.

The quarterback went on to explain that he and tight end Tyler Conklin had been asked by Smith whether Cage is categorized as a "good" or "bad" actor.

"Conk' said, 'I think he's OK. I like his movies.' And I'm very much on the same page as Conk'," Cousins noted. "Like, [he's] solid. You know, I liked National Treasure.

"Harry was like, 'OK, good,' and said, 'Well, you need to see these three Nicolas Cage movies.' It was almost like Harry was a little self-conscious," Cousins added with a laugh. "Like he couldn't just [lead] a conversation about Nicolas Cage movies unless the person agrees his movies are actually good."

After all, of the world's controversial subjects, aren't Cage's acting chops right near the top?

Cousins quipped that Smith was "in a safe place" among the group, and the trio proceeded to discuss not only Cage classics – Cousins' favorites aside from National Treasure and Guarding Tess include Con Air and Gone in 60 Seconds – but other '90s/early 2000s flicks that Cousins and Smith consider must-sees.

"He's never seen Con Air," Cousins said of Conklin. "[Tuesday] was the first time [he watched it].

"Some Harrison Ford stuff, you know, Clear and Present Danger, Patriot Games – all that stuff. And he hadn't seen any of them," Cousins said in disbelief. "We were like, 'You have to see these."

View photos of Vikings players from practice on Oct. 14 at the TCO Performance Center.

To be fair, Conklin is a few years behind the 32-year-old Smith and 33-year-old Cousins. The tight end was just 3 years old when Con Air and Face/Off were released in 1997 and wasn't yet born when Guarding Tess first hit theaters.

"It's not like in college when you're all about the same age; you start to distance yourself a little bit," Cousins laughed. "So, it's a great opportunity to educate young people about what the '90s was like."

Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks, 29, falls in between his teammates' ages and also has found himself in the middle of locker room discussions.

"I'm actually with Conklin on this," Kendricks admitted Thursday. "I kind of heard it in the locker room, and they were going over a few … I've seen in Gone in 60 Seconds, you know, and probably some others, but they kept rattling them off. Some guys are movie buffs; me, I was on Conk's side. I was like, 'I've never seen that.' "

There are no more excuses, though, at least as far as Conklin is concerned. Cousins and Smith have already curated a checklist for the tight end to tackle.

"We gave him a list of, like, 22 movies he has to watch," Cousins said. "He watched like two or three on the off day, which is a tremendous start, but he's got a long ways to go. So, I'm kind of living vicariously through him every day. I'm like, 'Hey, did you watch that movie?'

"He's gotta see Air Force One. He's gotta see some of those [films based on] John Grisham books [like] The Firm," Cousins said. "There's a lot there. So we're excited to kind of work through that with him."