Huddle Up For Atlanta QB Kirk Cousins’ Most Underrated Beach Town (2024)

There’s immense pressure on Kirk Cousins’ shoulders. There’s the obvious stress that would come with a 35-year-old quarterback signing a $180 million, four-year contract with any team in the NFL. But in Cousins’ case, there’s the added burden of leaving Minneapolis, a place where he’d been the Vikings’ centerpiece for the past six years, and coming to Atlanta, whose Falcons have only been to the playoffs twice since 2013.

So, whenever Cousins — who’s already top 25 all-time in career passing yards, completions and passing touchdowns — gets the chance to kick back these days, he does. One of the four-time Pro Bowler’s favorite spots to relax with his family is on Lake Michigan near his hometown of Holland, Michigan. Earlier this summer, in fact, Manitou pontoon boats had Cousins doing some brand promotions on the beautiful waters near Saugatuck. The conditions were so ideal that Forbes Travel Guide huddled up with the QB to talk about lake life, moving to Georgia and packing during the season.

What’s your message to long-suffering Atlanta sports fans?

I like our group. I think it’s a quality group of people. You win with people. I didn’t know anybody [with the Falcons] when I signed in March. So, you don’t know what you’re walking into. I started meeting a lot of our young players because it feels like a young locker room. As I met them, I was really impressed with the caliber of people and workers that we have.

I do think that there’s an opportunity there for me to help lead and develop some of these guys, along with our coaches, to bring them to where they want to go and need to go to help our team. I cherish that opportunity.

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I think our fans are dying to cheer for us. We need to give them something to get behind. And that starts Week One against the [Pittsburgh] Steelers in Mercedes-Benz Stadium. But it also started this spring, with how we worked and prepared and then going into the summer. We’re all excited. We like our group. But I think the fact that we’re new together is the challenge. How do we build continuity? How do we get to a place by Week One where we’re playing as if we’ve been together for years when the reality is we haven’t?

I know you have a connection to Atlanta through your wife, who’s a Georgia native. Tell me some things you love about the city.

When we first started spending off-seasons in Atlanta, staying at my in-laws’ house and we would have a true off day where I didn’t have any training, I would figure out what I wanted to go do. I love playing golf. There’s a lot of golf courses in Atlanta, from East Lake to Peachtree Golf Club. The climate allows you to play. And being from up north, you don’t take climate for granted.

I love the fact that the airport is nonstop to just about anywhere in the world. So, I’ve become a little spoiled [with traveling]. I’m definitely not accustomed to making connections because of Atlanta.

I’m a history guy, too, so I love driving down to The Carter Center. It’s a nice little museum. I like walking through there and reading about Jimmy Carter’s life and his impact. I kinda eat that stuff up.

Another place you know well is Michigan. What are some underrated aspects of the state?

You use the word “underrated” and that’s exactly what it is. I’ve heard people say, “Keep the beaches of Michigan a secret because people here like to keep them to themselves.” I brought teammates and when we got to the beach at Lake Michigan, they said, “I had no idea. When you said you were going back to Michigan and you were going to the lake, I just shrugged my shoulders and just assumed you had really low standards. But now I see this is like California. I just never knew it was here.”

I’ve traveled a lot with the NFL. They’ve taken us to London. They’ve taken us to Maui for different conferences and events, and I’ve stayed at the nicest hotels. I’ve tried to find a place that I like more than northern Michigan and I can’t find it. I think it starts in New Buffalo, right when you cross the Indiana-Michigan state line. It’s the first beach town. And I think it goes all the way up to Harbor Springs and Mackinac Island. There’s probably a dozen or more beach towns in that drive that are just as spectacular.

We’re in Saugatuck, which is basically where I grew up. I grew up in Holland, which is just 15 minutes north. When we were looking at which beach town we wanted to live in, I wanted to be closer to my home area, so we decided to make Saugatuck home. That’s where we keep our Manitou pontoon and get out on the water.

And my wife, I didn’t want to be the person who bogarts and tells her we’re living in Michigan, no questions asked. But Michigan stole her heart, too. And she just loves Lake Michigan and the beach. It’s a great place to raise our kids. So, I guess the secret’s out now, doing this interview. I just absolutely love it.

What makes Manitou pontoons so cool?

It’s really three factors. First of all, it’s an elevated experience. You just get on it and you feel like it’s luxury. This is not just a boat. This is a higher-end version of what’s out there.

Secondly, for me, time is of the essence. If I’m going to go spend my off time on a boat, I need it to be on a pontoon where I can gather with people. I want to get my family and friends together. I want to be able to put 10 people on a boat together, and that’s what this Manitou pontoon allows me to do.

And then, I would say that the level of features on the boat really helps. You have the touch screen that tells you everything you want to know about the depth. The GPS, the safety features, the Bluetooth speakers, the phone charger and the USB ports [are also good features]. There’s just a lot there where you say that this is everything we’re looking for and then some. I love to take it out on the big lake. It can go fast. This is not your grandpa’s pontoon.

The Falcons’ season kicks off in a couple of months. When you pack for a road game, tell me a few things that are always in your carry-on.

I always pack a sound machine. I don’t like sleeping in total silence, especially if I’m in an away city. If we stay in downtown Philadelphia, I could be hearing any kind of noise through the night and wouldn’t sleep well. I bring a sleep fan that makes noise so I can try to block out any city noise. I always pack melatonin to, again, help me sleep well. I bring a sleep mask in case the curtains don’t really do the job. I bring a lot of stuff to make sure the sleep is going to work because I can’t afford to have a poor night of sleep before a big game.

Outside of that, I usually bring a book to read. I like to have something [in case] I’m sitting around with idle time in the hotel. Gets my mind away from football instead of just churning about the game. I usually pick a book that has nothing to do with football and can just be a nice escape.

Are you reading anything right now?

I’ve been reading a bunch. I have a longer commute. I’m used to driving like 10 minutes to work [back in Minneapolis]. And now, I drive about 30 minutes from Suwanee [Georgia] up to Flowery Branch. I’ve been doing books on tape. The Power of Positive Thinking was one of them. I listened to one called Trust First by Bruce Deel, who started a ministry near the stadium called City of Refuge.

Atlanta plays Minnesota in early December. What will you miss most about the Twin Cities?

When you live somewhere for six years, you make great friendships. And, unfortunately, when you move, the relationships stay, but the people don’t get to come with you. I think I miss the people far and away more than anything. Those memories are tough. You realize the page has turned and you can’t just turn the page back. Now, you have to move forward. I think that’s a tough reality. But it’s a part of life for everybody who makes a move.

My boys really like their school, so saying goodbye to the teachers and the other kids is hard. They’ve made sacrifices. My wife has made sacrifices for me to be able to have the pro career I have. I don’t take that lightly.

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Huddle Up For Atlanta QB Kirk Cousins’ Most Underrated Beach Town (2024)
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