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How a tower of 720 stones helps Kirk Cousins confront his own mortality

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Cousins' routine for the rest of his life (4:05)

Vikings QB Kirk Cousins tells Sal Paolantonio about a unique routine that helps keep him grounded. (4:05)

EAGAN, Minn. -- In front of Kirk Cousins' home, in between a few shrubs, stands a curious tower. No more than four feet tall, it's filled to the top with stones. Inspired d├ęcor? Sort of.

"It's there to remind me how brief life is, and how important the time we have here is," the Minnesota Vikings quarterback says.

But ... a tower of stones?

Cousins laughs. "Oh, it's a little morbid," he admits, "but it's a tool my Bible teacher taught me in high school, and I'm carrying it with me."

The stones were inspired by a Bible verse, from the Book of Psalms, first shared with Cousins while attending Holland Christian High School in Holland, Michigan.

Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

"It's about the importance of leaving a mark and making a deposit in people's lives in a way that matters," Cousins says. "In other words, when you have an understanding that life is coming to an end someday, and that we only have so many days? There's wisdom in that."

For Cousins, it was important to transform the verse into a visual reminder: 720 stones.

"Let's say I live to 90, that would be a pretty good run," he says. "We went month to month, and we added it all up, and it was 720 stones because I turned 30 this year.

"Every month I'm going to take out a stone, put it in my pocket, and think: 'Once this month is over, this is gone. You can't get it back, it's gone for good.'"

The stone for each month represents the amount of time he likely has left, but it also serves as a reminder to Cousins on how he is spending that time, both on and off the field.

"Like everybody else, I am naturally selfish, and so I'm going to think about myself," he says. "And I think at the end of my life, it's not going to be about what I did for myself, but what I did for others. Maybe it's staying after practice to do hand signals with the guys to help them get caught up to speed. To make it about others -- I think that's what leadership is all about, quarterbacking is all about."

As Cousins removes a stone each month, the feel of it in his palm is a reminder of the time passing. But it's the questions that come with each stone that perhaps carry more weight.

"What impact are you making, not only today, but for eternity? What impact are you making to leave a legacy?" he says.

He pauses.

"It's just a healthy reminder, make life about other people, invest in other people, knowing that in the end, that's a life well-lived," he says.