Imagine, for a moment, quarterback Kirk Cousins, hanging out on a summer night in Holland, Mich., driving to an open field, tossing the pigskin around with some buddies, sharing memories of high school, as they prepare to part ways and head to college.
Then, after a tiring themselves out, laying back in said field and looking up at the sky, unpolluted by the city light, and gazing at stars, making small, existential talk about their lives – their futures, their families, their purpose in the world – and then silently noticing a streak across the stratosphere.
"You're just kind of looking out at the stars and you make a wish on a shooting star," Cousins said Thursday at the podium, "and my wish was to play in the NFL."
You could hear the Disney music swell in that moment, and while that phrase and that music has all been coddled into consumerism, Cousins wasn't reaching for a cliché. As he reflected on his teenage years and then to his current status as starting quarterback for the Washington Redskins, preparing to play a meaningful Monday Night Football game against the arch-rival Cowboys, you could tell that specific memory (maybe not a summer night), and that specific wish, was true. At least, it came true.
"You're so involved in the job and the task at hand and trying to be as good as you can be," Cousins said. "But there's no doubt that I feel like I'm living a dream and to be on Monday Night Football playing — knowing that there will be people back in my hometown of Holland, Michigan, watching me play on Monday Night Football is something that if you were to have told me that would happen in high school, I would have told you that you were smoking something."
Which would have probably been true anyways, considering most high school students smoke something at that age. Though Cousins probably didn't expect a passionate, in-the-moment phrase to go viral and become the catch-phrase he would have to answer to at press conferences this year. If you had told "You Like That" would become a thing, he probably would have thought you were smoking, too.
That's a different kind of dream, the kind online Youtube stars hope for. But Cousins is a football player, and games like Monday help put his reality into greater perspective.
"It's always a balance to be able to recognize that but also execute the job at hand and not treat it like it's too big," he said. "You try to find that balance game in and game out."
The increased popularity landed him on "Redskins Late Night" earlier this week, an episode that will premiere this coming Sunday morning (1:30 a.m. on NBC-4 for the night owls), and spoke to host Chris Paul about a variety of topics, offering more insight into his personality.
For one thing, he like movies based on true stories – "It could be a war movie, it could be a sports movie, it could be just a biography, but if it's a true story, I just love it" – and he has cheat days for eating. He like burgers, pizza and fries and "Chipotle becomes my go-to."
But when it comes to T.V., Cousins keeps going back to an all-time favorite: "The Office."
"I know it's no longer coming out with new episodes, but I just can't get enough of it," he said. "I love to watch some re-runs. For some reason it just resonates with me."
Maybe it's Scranton, Penn. Maybe it's that blue-collar town mentality. Maybe it's the office dynamic.
One thing that probably doesn't resonate is the lack of effort shown by everyone at work. Kirk Cousins made a wish upon a star, but he also worked hard to make that wish come true. In other words, he had a better plan for what he wanted to be when he grew up than Michael Scott.