Part of Kirk Cousins’ Injury Recovery Has Involved Constructing an Odd Power Ranking

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NFL fans will be accustomed with power rankings, but not the one that Kirk Cousins started working on during his recovery.

The veteran quarterback tore his Achilles back in Week 8, ending his season. For the first time in his NFL career, Cousins had to recover from a serious injury. The QB who never gets hurt got hurt, forcing Minnesota into the unenviable spot of needing to work through some signal caller musical chairs (and a bit of franchise history along the way).

Oct 29, 2023; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) gets pressure from Green Bay Packers linebacker Kenny Clark (97) in the first quarter at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

He recently took some time to be a guest on The Adam Schefter Podcast. Predictably, the conversation works through topics ranging from the injury itself to his ongoing desire to stick around Minnesota.

One of the great nuggets to emerge from the conversation, though, was that Cousins has been working on a power ranking. His Achilles injury prompted him to start researching who else tore their Achilles. From there, the QB put together a tongue-in-cheek list of the all-time Achilles tear greats.

Kirk Cousins and The Odd Power Ranking

Standing atop everyone is Achilles.

The mythological figure suffered a worse fate than anyone else. Take a look at how Cousins explains things: “Achilles himself I put as #1. He had the worst recovery; he died. So everybody else has been better than him.”

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Oct 8, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) drops back to pass against the Kansas City Chiefs in the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

The mythology nerds in the crowd will be familiar with the story. Basically, someone named Thetis put Achilles into the River Styx, granting the warrior a form on invincibility. The one weak spot? Well, his heel since that’s where Thetis held onto him when dunking him in the water (read more).

Cousins, familiar enough with the story, builds off of the mythological hero while getting into more modern names.

Tiger Woods. Kobe Bryant. David Beckham. Kevin Durant. Klay Thompson. Aaron Rodgers. These are just some of the names that the QB mentions. And then he also notes that there are several actors — George Clooney, Russell Crowe, Brad Pitt — and then politician Al Gore. There’s even some discussion about the dangers of playing pickup basketball when it comes to keeping an Achilles intact.

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Jan 8, 2023; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) reacts after an interception was nullified by a Detroit Lions penalty during the third quarter at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark Hoffman/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via USA TODAY NETWORK

Cousins quips that he started writing names down on the white board in the QB room: “I just thought, ‘You know, I gotta see how common this is.’ And so I not only Googled it and saw a list of a lot of names that I recognize but also then I made a list on the whiteboard in the training room of the power rankings of all the greats who have torn their Achilles.”

Classic Kirk.

Part of what has encouraged the QB is the understanding that there has been a ton of people who have gone through the same injury (many of whom being non-mythological beings; some even being athletes). Seeing all of the notable names and then seeing all that they’ve been able to do since being hurt seems to have lifted Cousins’ spirits.

So, in an odd way, the Achilles Tear Power Ranking may be considered part of the QB’s recovery. Anything that diminishes discouragement is a good thing when the recovery process is so long and gruelling.

Before falling to injury, Kirk Cousins was having a season that was worthy of seeing him named as an All Pro. He was completing 69.5% of his passes and he did so while piling up 2,331 yards, 18 TDs, and 5 INTs. Maintaining that level of production would have ended in him having arguably his best season since entering the NFL.

Nov 14, 2021; Inglewood, California, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) waves to fans as he leaves the field after defeating the Los Angeles Chargers at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings and Cousins will need to decide on what the future holds in a few months. He’ll be a free agent in March unless a new deal gets done. Recently, a lot of people have changed their opinion on Cousins, so an extension would be met with some applause. Even still, there are plenty who would welcome a highly-chosen QB to take over (might the Vikings split the middle by keeping Cousins around and picking a QB high in the draft?).

Podcast fans may be interested in checking out the full Cousins interview. The power rankings chat occurs around the 38-minute mark.

Editor’s Note: Information from Pro Football Reference helped with this piece.

K. Joudry is the Senior Editor for Vikings Territory and PurplePTSD. He has been covering the Vikings full time since the summer of 2021. He can be found on Twitter and as a co-host for Notes from the North, a humble Vikings podcast.