Dalvin Cook was the best player on the field in his team’s 28-24 victory over the Dallas Cowboys on Nov. 10. The Minnesota Vikings running back churned out 97 yards and a touchdown on the ground, adding 86 receiving yards while catching all seven passes thrown his way by Kirk Cousins.
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said Cook “played outstanding” and “had some unbelievable runs,” lavish praise that highlights of his 183-yard performance certainly justify.
But a vocal subset of Cook’s fans were left displeased regardless. Not Vikings faithful, of course, who universally exalted the third-year pro for leading Minnesota to a key late-season victory over an NFC rival.
Instead, it was Florida State fans who were more hung up on what Cook didn’t say during pregame introductions than what he actually did on the field.
Primetime NFL broadcasts include the starters of each team introducing themselves with a short, pre-recorded video. They state their name, position, and where they came from, the last bit of which allows for creative wiggle room that some players use to pump up their high school or elementary school rather than college.
That variable dynamic has grown commonplace over the years, barely registering today after it initially became the subject of frequent social fodder. Some Florida State fans, though, are apparently stuck in the past.
Before running roughshod over the Cowboys, Cook, who went to Florida State, announced himself as hailing from Miami Central High School, a longtime prep powerhouse.
Seminoles fans perceived it as a slight.
Does the notion that Cook intentionally and pointedly distanced himself from Florida State hold any weight?
Most fans worried by Cook’s possible diss seem to believe it stems from the Seminoles’ struggles this season. Florida State is just 6-5, and fired second-year coach Willie Taggart earlier this month after a dispiriting loss to longtime rival Miami.
Could the Seminoles’ fall from college football’s elite be what prompted Cook to invoke his high school on Sunday Night Football? Perhaps, especially considering his three-year career in Tallahassee included seven total losses.
Cook never played for Taggart, either. His coach at Florida State was Jimbo Fisher, who left for Texas A&M in late 2017.
Another potential reason for Cook’s perceived aversion to the Seminoles is that his younger brother ultimately decided to play college football elsewhere.
James Cook, a top-60 high school prospect, committed to Florida State in March 2016, as his brother prepared for his final season in Tallahassee. But the younger Cook later reneged on his pledge , perhaps wary of the competition for playing time he’d face in the Seminoles’ loaded backfield.
James Cook is now a sophomore at Georgia.
Frankly, there’s little to nothing in the way of evidence suggesting Cook has soured on Florida State.
His tenure in Tallahassee didn’t end without controversy. Cook was suspended indefinitely in July 2015 for allegedly hitting a woman outside of a local bar, an accusation that resulted in misdemeanor battery charges. A judge found him not guilty two months later, and Cook was immediately reinstated to the team.
In February 2017, after declaring for the NFL draft, Cook penned an emotional letter about his time with the Seminoles, writing that his decision to attend Florida State was “one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.” He called Fisher a “father figure,” and FSU fans “the best in America.”
A year later, following his rookie season in Minnesota, Cook posted a photo of himself triumphantly raising the Orange Bowl trophy, with a caption that made clear where his true feelings lie.
Does Cook harbor ill will toward Florida State? All indications say otherwise. Perhaps the frustration Seminoles fans have gleaned from another disappointing season has evolved into paranoia.