Silent star: Detroit Lions rookie Ziggy Ansah lets his play — and others — do the talking
"For some reason, he’s really clicked with (defensive end) Willie Young. It’s an odd pairing. Willie’s a very rambunctious guy, a big personality, a big talker. He’s uses a lot of goofy slang. Those two have gotten along really well. The coaches really like Ansah because he’s all business. You wouldn’t think the love of football is bred in him, but he seems to take a lot of pride in his profession and he works very hard at it.”
Ansah is a member of a star-studded team that includes Suh, quarterback Matthew Stafford, wide receiver Calvin Johnson (nicknamed “Megatron”) and running back Reggie Bush.
Ziggy is content to be a relatively anonymous role player, out of the glare of the bright spotlight.
“He hasn’t had to be 'The Guy,'” Rogers said.
During the offseason, Ansah attended some of the team’s charity events, including a football clinic for kids. He went on a fishing outing with the team.
“The fans are excited about him,” Rogers said. “They saw what he did in the NFL combine, and they know their gifts are immense. They’re just waiting for his potential to be actualized.”
The Lions have been infamous for high-profile draft busts — Andre Ware, Joey Harrington and Mike Williams come to mind. Detroit fans were a little skeptical of the Lions choosing Ansah with the No. 5 pick, but realized that he was a high-risk, high-reward selection. Plus, he filled a huge need at the defensive end position. So far, the pick is paying dividends.
After the Lions-Buccaneers game, I left Ford Field and forged into the dark, cold Detroit night, disappointed that I hadn't been able to talk to Ziggy.
A cab driver, who hails from Mauritania — a West African country like Ghana — was listening to the Lions postgame show on the radio. When asked about Ansah, he expressed his African pride. “He’s a good player,” he told me. “I like watching him.”
Another cabbie, Tony, has been driving a taxi in Detroit for 40 years and has seen the Lions go through a lot of dismal times during those four decades. He is both a fan of Ziggy, and optimistic about the future.
“He’s a force to be reckoned with,” Tony said of Ansah. “He and Suh give the Lions two great defensive linemen. If the Lions get another like guy like Ziggy, we’ll go to the Super Bowl. We’re just one player away.”
Detroit is one of only four NFL teams that has never played in the Super Bowl.
If the Lions do end up in there in the next few seasons, you can bet that Ziggy Ansah will have played a role in that achievement. And with a little luck, maybe he’ll stick around long enough in the locker room to talk to reporters like me about it.
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