Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins will receive Athletes In Action’s Bart Starr Award Feb. 11, the day before the 2023 Super Bowl. Presented at the Cru (formerly known as Campus Crusade For Christ) Super Bowl Breakfast in Phoenix, the Bart Starr Award annually honors the NFL player who best exemplifies outstanding character and leadership in the home, on the field, and in the community.
The late Bart Starr was known for his impeccable character and faith-filled service to family and community. He led the Green Bay Packers to victory in the first two Super Bowls ever played.
A preacher’s kid and 11-year veteran of the NFL, Cousins said, "To win an award that has his name on it is a great honor, and then what the award stands for and what Bart stands for really means a great deal to me." Cousins played six seasons for Washington and the last five in Minnesota.
In 2018, Cousins and his wife created the Julie & Kirk Cousins Foundation for the purpose of building on their faith through philanthropy. The organization supports Bethany Christian Services, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Compassionate Heart Ministries, Discovery Church, Christian Schools in Holland, Mich., and International Justice Mission. Additionally, Cousins hosts events for People Serving People Charities, which offers emergency services, housing and family homelessness prevention services for families experiencing housing insecurity in Hennepin County, Minn.
"I feel like the parents that I had and the way that they raised me, I feel very fortunate," Cousins said of growing up as the son of a Christian pastor.
"While I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior at the age of 7 or 8 years old, I think when it really took root in me and when I really took ownership, was when I moved into high school and really started to learn what it meant to not just be calling myself a Christian but to actually be a follower of Jesus Christ," Cousins recalled.
As a student at Holland Christian High School, Cousins visited the Holy Land in Israel, and that bolstered his faith even more.
"I was able to go all around Israel from Jerusalem to the Sinai Peninsula as well as up to Galilee and to see where Jesus walked so it was a very, very unique experience," Cousins said. "(It's) a once in a lifetime experience and it had a major impact on my ability to take ownership of my faith. I'm still going to influence people for Christ. No matter what my role is on this team I'm going to use that opportunity in the locker room each and every day."
Cousins invoked Colossians 3:23 when he said that whatever you do, “do it with all your heart as for working for the Lord, not for men. So the fact that Jesus Christ has died for me and my life is in Him while football is important to me, it's a game. And it doesn't determine my identity; it doesn't determine my value as a person. That's tied up in Jesus Christ and He's not changing any time soon."
That faith has carried Cousins, who led the Viking to the NFC North Division title this year, in times of difficulty, he said.