‘First Take’ Hosts Try So, So Hard to Spin Kirk Cousins Comments

WASHINGTON — Kirk Cousins hopes the Redskins can model themselves after the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs, by being so boringly uneventful that their having a good season would sneak up on people.

“I’ve told my teammates that I’d like to be the San Antonio Spurs of the NFL,” Cousins said. “Be super boring and maybe people at the end of the season go ‘Wow – they really had a good year and no one really talked about it.'”

This coincides with the mundane training camp the Redskins have experienced in Richmond, devoid of the controversy and off-field distractions which in the past ran wild this time of year. Being boring, if it means being so immersed in your work that there’s no time leftover to shock the outside world with provocative quotations, should be a good thing, certainly an improvement for a franchise once fraught with drama.

It stands to reason that the leader of the offense saying such a thing before the season should be met with applause, not criticism, and that interpreting Cousins’ words as controversial should be impossible, as that would be counter-intuitive to the message itself.

“First Take,” ESPN’s immensely popular program about cartoon characters who view the world in such an outlandish way that it’s considered entertainment for humans who understand reason, discussed Cousins’ comments on Monday.

If you happened to be watching, then you would have witnessed the hosts, Max Kellerman and Stephen A. Smith, spend approximately 10 minutes trying to negatively spin Cousins’ remarks into something from positively nothing. It was remarkable.

“I understand what he’s saying here, Stephen A.,” Kellerman said. “The problem is that is so overboard, even aspirationaly. The Spurs are so beyond the scope of Washington right now. Think about this for a second. The Washington team name, a slur for a group of people. Could you imagine the Spurs ever embroiled in that kind of controversy and then digging in their heels?

“The constant coaching changes in Washington is the opposite of the Spurs. The Spurs have an overarching philosophy that doesn’t exist in Washington. Splashy free-agent signings. Is that the Spurs? I mean yes, they went out and got LaMarcus Aldridge, here and there targeted free-agent signings.”

Some might argue Josh Norman was a targeted free-agent signing, rather than a splashy one, but you do you, Kellerman.

“Going all-in with resources, draft picks for a hundred years, to get a player in RGIII who then busts,” he continued. “Does that sound like the Spurs to anyone? And even the quarterback now, who’s coming out and saying that he wants to just fly low and under the radar, and just put your heads down and get the job done, and be like the Spurs.

“He’s the one who’s most famous for saying ‘You like that!’ Can you imagine Tim Duncan walking out of there, ‘You like that!’? What I would say is I understand the aspiration, holding out the Spurs as the model franchise — which they are — but like why don’t you concentrate on being the Indiana Pacers or the Kansas City Chiefs first, and then worry about the Spurs once you get there? Especially coming from the ‘you like that’ guy. I get it, but, uh, no. Not so much, Kirk Cousins.”

It was then Smith’s turn to deliver his sultry take, the point of which I’m not quite certain.

“You know, there’s something to be said for being a brother, Max Kellerman,” Smith began. “And I say that affectionately. Washington, D.C. is affectionately known as ‘Chocolate City’ to the brothers and sisters in this world, okay? Now, there’s a level of flair, there’s a level of bravado, a level of swag that we have, and dammit, we want you to have it too. And if you don’t have it, you need to be elite, otherwise we would prefer to do without you. This is how we roll. This is how we roll!”

Here’s how his next sentence developed, uninterrupted: “And, when you have Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson entering the final year of their contract with much to prove, and DeSean Jackson, when healthy, being arguably the most elite deep threat in the game; when you’ve got this kid like Josh Doctson coming out of TCU, who can do some things and might take one of their spots, which is why he was drafted by the way, let’s just call it what it is; when you have a stud like Jordan Reed at the tight end spot, okay, alright when you’ve got that going on, alright; when you’ve got an owner who’s a billionaire, proud of it and loves rivaling the Dallas Cowboys; when you supplement that by bringing in Josh Norman to buffer your secondary, to pair him opposite of [Bashaud] Breeland, and you got Josh Norman, that you’re going to put him in the same division as Odell Beckham, Jr., because you want THE SIZZLE, you want THE HEADLINES.”

[BREAK]

“You want the wins, too,” he added, “but you want all of that that comes with it because it will buffer and pad your wallets, it will generate a level of enthusiasm and focus on your franchise, and as a result, it’s going to put more dollars in Daniel Snyder’s wallet. You don’t want to hear your quarterback, who you’re paying $19.95 million to by the way — even though it’s just for this one year — you don’t want to hear him saying, ‘I just want to go about my business quietly and, you know, we just want to win and we want to be the San Antonio Spurs.’ NO! You want to win like the San Antonio Spurs, absolutely, but you don’t want their personality if you’re Daniel Snyder. You want headlines. You want sizzle. You want to win and you want to win in the court of public opinion, in terms of the headlines.”

“You want First Take and ESPN and other shows talking about the Redskins all day and every day, other than for their name, according to Max Kellerman,” Smith said. “You don’t want that kind of publicity! But outside of that, you want everything that comes along with it. So you don’t want your quarterback being some choir boy that doesn’t make any headlines. Of course you want him to win, that’s the priority, and you can forgive it if he wins. But if you’re marginal, average, or even just slightly above-average — I mean, damn, give us something to talk about while you’re winning a few games, because you don’t want to be that boring franchise.”

Key takeaway: If you’re anything but elite, say provocative things for headline fodder so we have something to talk about because, ya know, that should weigh heavily on a quarterback’s priority list. Also, how things were is how they should remain for all eternity, because human beings cartoon characters are incapable of change.

“See, the Spurs can afford to be boring, because they’ve got five rings,” Smith rambled. “In Tim Duncan’s illustrious 19-to-20-year career, they won at least 60 percent of their games every single year. But we all know that the Washington Redskins haven’t won a Super Bowl since 1991. So, again, the crawl-before-you-walk mentality is apropos here. But let me be the first to say: If you’re in the same division as that phony joke that’s called America’s Team, the Dallas Cowboys, you don’t want to sit up there and lose headlines to them all the time while not winning! You want it all. And that’s how Kirk Cousins’ attitude should be: We want it all.

Let me be the first to say: If these are the types of takes boringness produces, I understand Kellerman and Smith’s concerns.

Follow @ChrisLingebach and @1067TheFan on Twitter.

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