Bruce Allen’s pet name for his starting quarterback has been a treasured inside joke among Washington football aficionados for months and months, one of the ties that binds us together — like Winning Off the Field, the Maroon and Black, Brian Orapko and Staying Medium — and it’s really incredible how many brain cells we’ve all devoted to this type of stuff.
Anyhow, our little private regional joke became a national obsession for a few minutes last month. When Allen read off his prepared statement about the lack of a long-term deal with Kirk Cousins, he kept calling him Kurt.
Please enjoy Bruce Allen calling his franchise quarterback by the wrong first name six times in two minutes pic.twitter.com/BVkahmTeqo
— Dan Steinberg (@dcsportsbog) July 18, 2017
This was seen across the country as an affront, and an insult, and of a piece with the lack of respect implied by Washington’s contract offer. And maybe it was all those things, but it was certainly nothing new.
Heck, there are players inside the Redskins locker room who still call Kirk “Kurt.” There are dozens and dozens of Washington sports-radio callers who call him Kurt. “I’ve been called Kurt my entire life,” Cousins told 106.7 the Fan last month, and I’ve long imagined creating an alter-ego Cousins persona for column purposes named Kurt Cousins who fails to notice linebackers over the middle and throws occasional interceptions and loses track of the clock at the end of the first half and curses during news conferences, Mr. Hyde to Kirk’s Dr. Jekyll. Seemed like too much work.
Anyhow, that incident finally brought an official comment from a team official, who explained that Allen’s consistent mispronunciation was because of his accent. And now, thanks presumably to some sort of Eliza Doolittle-style training (Google it), the accent is gone. Bruce Allen talked about his quarterback this week, and he called him Kirk, and it was glorious and perfect. It was just a textbook example of a hard final k.
— Rob Carlin (@RobCarlinCSN) August 8, 2017
Allen also spoke to SiriusXM NFL Radio about his quarterback on Monday, and he was bursting with praise and trust.
“We talk all the time,” Allen said of Cousins. “And his dreams are our dreams. He really is focused on what this team can do this year. You know, so much of the criticism in sports right now is people talk about oh ‘What’s this mean in my future?’ He’s played under a one-year deal the last two years, and not only played well, he’s gotten better. And he’s comfortable in doing that. We wanted to give him the security of more years; he says I feel comfortable. And where his mind-set is, he wants to win. That’s all an organization can ask for at quarterback. And the fact that he’s been a captain for us, we know the players respect him, the coaches respect him. And we’re all on board in helping him win.”
It’s a fine answer, and Allen’s point about the future is well-taken, to a certain degree. NFL seasons are so distinct that it’s fair to wonder whether it’s worth obsessing about 2018 before one snap has been played in 2017. Also, that was an in-depth and lengthy answer in which Allen had to say neither Kirk nor Kurt. Playing it safe. Once a day is enough.
(Yes, the next time Allen sees me he should feel free to punch me in the face, and then ask me if it hirks.)
The same SiriusXM NFL Radio crew later presented to Cousins this suggestion that there isn’t animosity, that instead there’s a focus on the present.
“Correct, and as you know, that’s enough to focus on,” Cousins said. “I mean, that’s going to keep me busy for six months. It is not an easy job playing quarterback in this league. As you can see, they’re not finding 32 guys who can do it year in and year out at a high level, so it is not easy. It is a challenge, it takes everything I’ve got. It takes more focus to play quarterback than anything else I’ve ever done in life. So that’s where my focus needs to be. The contract stuff has worked itself out, it will work itself out. This is not the first rodeo for me. We know how to focus on the job each and every Sunday, and then cross that bridge when we come to it at the end of the season.”
As always, this is not a man to shirk responsibility. Or to shurt responsibility, either.
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