Silent star: Detroit Lions rookie Ziggy Ansah lets his play — and others — do the talking

Published: Thursday, Dec. 12 2013 5:25 p.m. MST

Detroit Lions defensive end Ezekiel Ansah (94) runs onto the field before the first quarter of an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears at Ford Field in Detroit, Sunday, Sept. 29, 2013.

Jose Juarez, ASSOCIATED PRESS

DETROIT — So you think Ezekiel “Ziggy” Ansah is fast on the football field?

That’s nothing compared to how fast the rookie defensive end, and BYU product, moves in the locker room after a game.

The Detroit Lions had just lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 24-21, on Nov. 24 in a contest that saw Ansah, who had been sidelined the previous two games due to an ankle injury, record two quarterback sacks and re-energize the Lions defense in his return to action.

After the game, reporters were ushered into the solemn locker room in the bowels of Ford Field to conduct interviews.

While star defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh held court with the media, talking about the disappointing defeat, the 6-foot-6, 270-pound Ansah strode from the showers to his spot in the locker room, about 10 feet away from Suh’s locker, and turned his back to get dressed.

Having traveled a long way to interview Ziggy, I patiently and respectfully waited for him to put on his clothes. I was looking forward to reconnecting with him — I hadn't talked to him since the night of the NFL draft at Radio City Music Hall last April in New York City, where he was picked No. 5 overall.

I had flown from Chicago to Detroit and taken a cab straight from the airport to Ford Field to watch him play, the day after covering the BYU-Notre Dame football game.

After listening briefly to Suh’s postgame comments, I turned around, only to see a fully clothed Ansah bolting back into the bathroom and showers area.

I panicked momentarily, then waited for Ansah to return to his locker. And waited. And waited.

No Ziggy.

“Is there another exit back there?” I asked a locker room attendant folding up the chair in front of Ansah’s locker.

“Yep.”

“Do you think Ziggy will come back?”

The man looked at me as if he had been asked if it would be wise to walk the Motor City streets at night alone.

“I wouldn’t bet on it,” he said. “He doesn’t stick around long after games.”

That was Ziggy being Ziggy — displaying, once again, his speed and elusiveness, and outsmarting his opponent. He had blown past the cadre of reporters like he had the Buccaneers' left tackle an hour earlier.

The Lions media relations staff, and reporters that cover the team on a daily basis, weren’t surprised at all about Ansah’s quick departure — especially after an unsettling loss.

Besides, Ansah, who may not have been aware that I wanted to interview him that day, has never been one to talk much about himself anyway, dating back to last season, when he became a sudden sensation as a senior at BYU.

On top of that, the culture of the Lions organization dictates that younger players talk as little as possible to the media.

“He’s really, really generic during interviews,” Justin Rogers, who covers the Lions for MLive Media Group, said of Ansah. “He’s learned a remarkable number of football clichés in his short time around the game. You can tell when the microphones are shut off, he’s got a good personality. I would say Ansah’s an impressionable guy. He respects and listens to his coaches. When he was injured, he straight-up avoided us and declined all interviews.”

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