Vikings rookie Brian Asamoah proud to share Ghanaian heritage with GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah
Both Adofo-Mensah and Asamoah are of Ghanaian descent and speak Twi fluently.
After Friday’s first practice of a two-day Vikings rookie minicamp, general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and rookie linebacker Brian Asamoah chatted on the field for more than five minutes. It wasn’t exactly a typical NFL conversation.
“We were actually speaking African,’’ Asamoah said. “It’s called Twi.”
Twi is a widely spoken language in the West Africa nation of Ghana, which has a population of 31 million. Both Adofo-Mensah and Asamoah are of Ghanaian descent and speak Twi fluently.
“It’s like my first time ever meeting him,’’ said Asamoah, selected in the third round of last month’s draft out of Oklahoma. “It was just cool because you don’t see this ever happening, a general manager from your hometown (the capital city of Accra), being able to speak in a different language with him and just show my appreciation to him for even choosing me.’’
After the Vikings selected Asamoah on April 29, Adofo-Mensah made note of their shared heritage.
“That was a special call for me,’’ said the first-year general manager. “I told him, ‘Did you ever think you’d fulfill your NFL dream with somebody named Kwesi?’ … That was a cool moment for both of us. You talk about the circle of life and all of that stuff.”
When the two first met in person Friday, they hugged. Asamoah said their conversation touched upon the improbability of two people of Ghanaian descent having now joined forces in the NFL.
“He was just kind of lacing me up on just how things are going to go and make the most of your opportunity, and I was telling him I appreciate the opportunity and I’m not going to let him down,’’ Asamoah said. “Where we come from, a lot of people don’t make it to this spot specifically, being the general manager or playing football at the highest level. So it’s a level of appreciation on both sides.”
Asamoah, a native of Columbus, Ohio, is the son of Lawrence and Agnes, who were both born in Ghana. Asamoah, 22, has visited Ghana once, going in 2010.
“It was cool,’’ said Asamoah, who plans to return to Ghana next year. “It was an experience. I got to understand the cultural differences between here and America, and how much of an opportunity you have here in America.’’
After starring at St. Francis De Sales High School in Columbus, Asamoah arrived at Oklahoma in 2018. He redshirted as a freshman and then continued to get better in three seasons with the Sooners, including being named to the All-Big 12 second team in 2021.
The Vikings like the range the athletic 6-foot, 226-pound Asamoah has at inside linebacker. With Minnesota starting organized team activities on Tuesday, he expects to fit in well in the 3-4 scheme under new defensive coordinator Ed Donatell.
“I’ve seen the opportunity for me to just run sideline to sideline and just really opening up a lot,’’ Asamoah said. “But also being able to just cover tight ends and running backs, Putting me man to man, that’s something I think I do really well.’’
The initial most noticeable thing about Asamoah on the field is his wearing of No. 33, which was star running back Dalvin Cook’s number in his first five seasons before he switched to 4.
Asamoah noted that he wore No. 6 in high school, No. 24 in college, which adds up to six, and now has another number that adds up to six. He has an idea about what fans with old Cook No. 33 jerseys should do.
“I think that people are just going to put tape over it with Asamoah on it,’’ he said with a laugh.
But if the linebacker develops the way the Vikings hope he will, there will be new No. 33 jerseys with Asamoah on the back hanging in local stores.
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