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Lil’ Kirk in Chains gladly would take up Kirk Cousins’ offer to be a Vikings ‘mascot’

7-year-old Vikings fan geared up with chains for Thanksgiving game

7-year-old Vikings fan Lincoln Gustafson does his best Kirk Cousins imitation outside U.S. Bank Stadium before Thursday night’s game against the New England Patriots.
7-year-old Vikings fan Lincoln Gustafson does his best Kirk Cousins imitation outside U.S. Bank Stadium before Thursday night’s game against the New England Patriots.
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Quarterback Kirk Cousins has suggested the Vikings should hire Lil’ Kirk in Chains as a “team mascot.” And that would be just fine with the 7-year-old.

“That would be awesome,” Lincoln Gustafson said Friday.

During Minnesota’s 33-26 win over New England on Thursday night at U.S. Bank Stadium, Lincoln became a bit of a sensation after he was shown several times on the videoboard dancing while shirtless and wearing chains around his neck. It was a play on Cousins wearing chains on the team flight after several Vikings wins this season, including his going shirtless following a victory Nov. 6 at Washington.

During Thursday’s game, Cousins took note of the kid wearing chains, and he was impressed.

“The young kid in the stands who was shirtless, that was just tremendous,” Cousins said after the game. “We may have to hire him as a team mascot. That was awesome. We had a TV timeout and the guys in the huddle are just loving it. We may have to come up with a name for him, get him some tickets, bring him back.”

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The kid is Lincoln, a second grader who lives in Denver, Iowa, and turns 8 on Dec. 4. He said he has been a Vikings fan “forever,” and his parents took him to his first Minnesota game as a birthday present on Thursday.

In an interview with the Pioneer Press on Friday, Lincoln’s mother Hether and father Derek said they figure the best name for him is Lil’ Kirk in Chains.

It all started when his parents were preparing to buy a birthday present for Lincoln in addition to taking him to the game, and sought his input. He settled on a No. 18 Justin Jefferson jersey because the wide receiver is his favorite player and Lincoln loves his Griddy dance, but the store they went to didn’t have his size. So his mother came up with another idea.

“We thought it would be really funny because he had seen all those videos of (Cousins) dancing on the plane, so I said, ‘Let’s buy the jewelry instead,’ and he was all for it,” Hether Gustafson said. “After we got that about a week ago, he was dancing around at home and he was so pumped to go to the game.”

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Hether Gustafson said four plastic pieces were bought on Amazon for between $50 and $60. And Derek Gustafson said Lincoln had done a homework assignment on Nov. 22 that ended up predicting what would happen.

“He wrote a journal entry about seeing Kirk Cousins on TikTok and he was hoping to get on the jumbotron,” Derek said. “I think he succeeded.”

After making the three-hour drive from Denver, the family stayed at the Marriott in downtown Minneapolis. Hether Gustafson said that outside the stadium before the game Lincoln posed for a bunch of photos and videos wearing the chains with his shirt off, and got a lot of high fives from admiring fans.

After the three family members settled into row three in section 103, Hether said “every phone camera was out” to capture Lincoln. When he was shown on the videoboard dancing shirtless with the chains on, fans went crazy.

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“It was really exciting,” Lincoln said.

After the game, the family returned to the Marriott, where Lincoln was given quite the hero’s welcome.

“We walked back into the hotel and they gave him a standing ovation,” Hether said. “It was all very cool. … He’s just been having the time of his life.”

Later that night, Hether said the three were “just astonished” to hear about what Cousins had said about the kid in chains. And they have taken note of the way pictures of Lincoln and references to him have spread rapidly on social media.

Lincoln’s parents are both longtime Vikings fans, and both had been to several previous games. Derek Gustafson figures Lincoln began to become a big fan when he was 3 and the family watched on television when Stefon Diggs’ made the dramatic catch to win a playoff game over New Orleans in January 2018.

“I dove into the snow during the Minneapolis Miracle, and that’s probably what sparked it,” Derek said.

The Gustafsons don’t have any immediate plans to attend another Vikings game this season. But then again, Cousins did talk about getting tickets for Lil’ Kirk in Chains.

For now, Lincoln is looking forward to returning Monday to Denver Elementary School, where he just might be regarded as a celebrity.

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