Washington Redskins: An open letter to Kirk Cousins

SEATTLE, WA - NOVEMBER 05: Quarterback Kirk Cousins #8 of the Washington Redskins celebrates with fans after the game against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on November 5, 2017 in Seattle, Washington. The Redskins won 17-14. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WA - NOVEMBER 05: Quarterback Kirk Cousins #8 of the Washington Redskins celebrates with fans after the game against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on November 5, 2017 in Seattle, Washington. The Redskins won 17-14. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images) /

To former Washington Redskins quarterback, Kirk Cousins:

I live in Michigan. I’m a Spartan. It’s the only sensible thing to do when you live fifteen minutes away from East Lansing. Go green, go white.

It shouldn’t be much of a secret that I grew up watching Michigan State sports. Football, basketball, all of the above. I was too young to remember the 2000 National Championship that Tom Izzo got for us, but ever since the mid 2000’s, I’ve been there for every minute of it all. Brian Hoyer, Drew Stanton, and of course, you, Kirk Cousins.

As a multi-sport athlete, I followed your example as a hard worker, a diligent listener, and a tireless innovator. I might not have amounted to much athletically, as my career ended shortly after high school, but I drew inspiration from the product you put on the field. I wanted to be that captain. That impact player. After all, who wouldn’t? Your example at Michigan State helped teach me that I can be successful if I work hard enough, but that I must also be humble.

I was one of the many Spartans calling for you to be drafted in the first-round back in 2012. Of course, back then, I was still too young to understand the ins and outs of football scouting. I didn’t know what a ‘game manager’ was, or how your arm strength was any different from Andrew Luck’s. I just knew that you were a great quarterback. A great Spartan quarterback. And when you were drafted in the fourth round by the Washington Redskins, I had a feeling, a subtle feeling, that my days of watching you play as a starter weren’t over when you left for the NFL.

I was a Detroit Lions fan back then, and today, I still am. It’s about 50-50. It’s a painful combo, but don’t worry. I can take it. Over the years, I kept an eye on your progress in Washington as a backup. You know us Spartans, we don’t forget about our own. My spirits were high when you threw for over 400 yards against the Eagles in 2004. They were astronomically low when, on a car ride home from a swim meet, I’d heard that you’d been benched for Colt McCoy in the second half of the Titans’ game.

Over the subsequent offseason in 2015, I was already too far into the trap. I began following the Washington Redskins as much as the Lions. I knew all the players. Chris Baker. DeAngelo Hall. Pierre Garcon. Trent Williams. And so I knew, when I heard in August that Jay Gruden had named you the starting quarterback, that you could succeed in that situation.

Like I said earlier, I live in Michigan. We don’t get Redskins games over here. So every Sunday, we would have the Lions game turned on in the living room, but sitting on the couch, with my iPad in my hands, I would follow my FantasyCast (league champion in 2015, not bragging) play-by-play, keeping track of the stats. It was a roller coaster, like things usually are with the Washington Redskins.

My fondest memory in all my football experience, perhaps, is likely one of your fondest memories as well. The Buccaneers game in 2015. I had turned away from the play-by-play when the Redskins went down 24-0, and in autumn, there was plenty of yard work to be done outside. And so outside I went.

I stayed outside for a long time, occasionally checking back in on the Lions game, which was playing on the television. And after a couple hours, I came back inside, and the Lions game wasn’t on. It was the Redskins game. And you were driving down the field, down 30-24.

I sat on the floor, six inches from the television, and I didn’t move until Jordan Reed caught the game-winning pass. You can imagine the celebration afterward.

The rest of the season was incredible. The game against the Saints. The blowout of the Buffalo Bills. The clinching of the NFC East against the Philadelphia Eagles. It all felt so new. So exciting. It was almost like the fulfilling of a prophecy. The fourth-rounder, destined to start. And to succeed.

Success wasn’t what the Green Bay Packers called it, however. But even after your early-round exit, I still had hope. Countless fans had hope again, after the tragic collapse of the RG3-era extinguished almost all of it. To reinvigorate an entire community? Not many can say they’ve done that.

Now, ignoring those who will undoubtedly comment on this post with some form of vulgarity, I want to say thank you, Kirk. Thank you, not only for giving some excitement to the fans of the Washington Redskins, but also to the fans of the Michigan State Spartans, who have kept tabs on you over the years. But I also want to issue a warning, if I may.

I can’t judge. I’m not in a position to. I don’t know you as a person. In fact, most fans don’t. That makes every knee-jerk reaction all the more comical. But I do know that negotiations with the Washington Redskins didn’t work. I know you didn’t try to make them work. I know how much money you’re reportedly asking for. And I’ve seen a report, saying that you’re looking for a short-term deal. So you can get paid again.

You always said it wasn’t about the money. Then what is it about? Spiting the Washington Redskins? Beating the system? Capitalizing on your leverage? What about your dream? To be a starting quarterback in the NFL, and to be successful? There was a time when people measured your success with a win-loss column. Perhaps a quick check of the fingers, to look for any rings. Now, it seems like you’re measuring it in dollar signs.

I want to assert again that I wish you good luck wherever the market takes you. But I say again: I hope that you remain humble, because that’s what’s gotten you this far. Fans will never cease to try and weigh your priorities, and as much as I might like to say I am different, I am not. I see what happens. And all I see is money. You say you’re setting the market up for quarterbacks in the future. You say you’re doing them a service. But then my mind goes back to the short-term deal rumor. And I think you’re only truly setting up yourself.

I hope I’m wrong.

Thank you, Kirk. For all the good memories. There’s always bad ones, so don’t beat yourself up too much. Here’s to more, wherever you go.

Next: Redskins: Top ten players to watch in free agency

Wishing the best,

Ian Cummings.