On Spotify's "10 Questions With Kyle Brandt," a podcast the quarterback said he appeared on in July but which was posted online Wednesday, Cousins said he is taking a "survival of the fittest" personal approach to the coronavirus, even if it kills him.
After a wave of backlash over his comments, the Vikings moved up Cousins' media availability one day to speak with Twin Cities reporters Wednesday in an attempt to explain what he meant.
"What I was trying to say back then, admittedly, I probably wasn't as clear as I would have liked to have been," Cousins said. "But what I wanted to say then, what I would echo again now is that while the virus does not give me a great amount of personal fear, there's still great reason for me to engage in wearing a mask and social distancing and washing my hands as frequently as I can and following protocols that have been set in place obviously to be respectful and considerate of other people, which is very important, but then also to be available for all 16 games this fall because as the protocol is set up, if a player were to test positive, they would be potentially out of a game or games.
"There's plenty of reasons to wear a mask, social distance and be very vigilant to help stop the spread of the virus. That was the heart of what I was trying to say in July. Admittedly I didn't say it as clear as I would have liked to so I just want to share that same message again and hopefully articulate it a little bit better. But that has always been my heart and is again now, just trying to say that."
The Vikings did not practice on Wednesday, and no players were initially scheduled for media availability.
On the podcast, Brandt asked Cousins to rate his level of concern over contracting the virus on a 1-10 scale, with 1 being "the person who says, 'Masks are stupid, you're all a bunch of lemmings,' and 10 is, 'I'm not leaving my master bathroom for the next 10 years.'"
Cousins replied: "I'm not gonna call anybody stupid, for the trouble it would get me in. But I'm about a .000001."
When asked to elaborate on that answer, Cousins said: "I want to respect what other people's concerns are. For me personally, just talking no one else can get the virus, what is your concern if you could get it, I would say I'm gonna go about my daily life. If I get it, I'm gonna ride it out. I'm gonna let nature do its course. Survival-of-the-fittest kind of approach. And just say, if it knocks me out, it knocks me out. I'm going to be OK. You know, even if I die. If I die, I die. I kind of have peace about that."
Asked whether he would take back his "if I die, I die" comment with how many people have perished worldwide from the virus, including nearly 185,000 in the United States as of Wednesday afternoon, Cousins did not change his stance but provided further clarity on what he meant.
"I think it was just the heart behind it was just saying that I have peace if that were to happen was all I was wanting to say," Cousins said.
The quarterback later added, "I have peace. I don't believe that I control the outcome of my life. There's many things out of my control. But obviously, my faith is at the foundation of my life. I trust the Lord to handle things. If something happens, I trust him to have a plan and purpose and to use even a pain, a setback, adversity, to use that to help grow me and teach me more about him."
On the podcast, Cousins said that for him, wearing a mask "is really about being respectful to other people," an approach he doubled down on during his press conference.
"That's what it's all about, right?" he said. "That was what I was trying to say in July is that I want to be very respectful and considerate of everyone else. It's a great opportunity to show that every day with the way you wash your hands consistently and wear a mask and are respectful of other people."
The NFL has updated its game-day protocols by requiring every coach and staff member in the bench area to wear a mask and reducing the size of each team's travel party.
The league and the NFL Players Association announced Tuesday that 10 players and other team personnel tested positive for the virus during the league's latest testing period of Aug. 21-29. According to the data, 8,739 players and personnel were given 58,621 tests during the Aug. 21-29 time period. That included 23,279 tests to 2,747 players and 35,342 to 5,992 personnel.