Jeff Benedict: Former BYU standout Ziggy Ansah making a big impact with Detroit Lions
The lifestyle is different, too. But Ansah’s teammates on the defensive line have embraced him. "This is a brotherhood," said 12-year veteran defensive end Israel Idonije. "The guys who come in and accept the culture will be accepted and nurtured by the other guys. We want to help a guy who buys into the system. That's what Ziggy has done."
As soon as Ansah arrived in Detroit the players started taking him out. They even took Ansah to his first Major League Baseball game, which they watched from Justin Verlander’s private suite. Ansah is now a Tigers fan.
“I love the city of Detroit,” Ansah said. “I love the people here and the atmosphere.
One reason Ansah has quickly become a favorite on the team is his attitude. Despite being a first-round draft choice, he expects no special treatment. After the first day in pads, starting quarterback Matthew Stafford removed his helmet and shoulder pads, set them on the ground, and hustled off to do some media interviews. Ansah stayed behind for some additional coaching instructions. Then he gathered up Stafford’s gear and headed off the field.
As Stafford entered the locker room, Ansah held up his gear. “I got you,” Ansah said, grinning. Stafford smiled. “Thank you.”
“He’s one of those guys that’s just a pleasure to be around,” said Lions VP of Communications Bill Keenist.
These days every GM and head coach in the NFL knows Ziggy’s name. When the Lions open the preseason against the New York Jets on Friday, Ansah will be starting at defensive end. Soon he’ll be getting personally acquainted with NFL quarterbacks.
Jeff Benedict is a special features writer for Sports Illustrated. His new book — The System: The Glory and Scandal of Big-Time College Football — will be released next month. It features chapters on his experience covering BYU’s program
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