After Friday’s first practice of a two-day minicamp for Vikings rookies, general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and rookie linebacker Brian Asamoah chatted on the field for more than five minutes. It wasn’t exactly typical NFL conversation.
“We were actually speaking African,” Asamoah said. “It’s called Twi.”
Twi is a widely spoken language in Ghana, a West African country, which has a population of 31 million. Adofo-Mensah and Asamoah are of Ghanaian descent and fluent in Twi.
“It’s like meeting him for the first time,” said Asamoah, selected in the third round of last month’s draft in Oklahoma. ‘It was just cool because you never see that happen, a managing director from your home town (the capital Accra), being able to speak in a different language with him and show him my gratitude for even choosing me.’ ‘
After the Vikings chose Asamoah on April 29, Adofo-Mensah took note of their shared heritage.
“It was a special call for me,” said the first-year general manager. “I said to him, ‘Did you ever think you’d achieve your dream in the NFL with someone named Kwesi?’ … It was a cool moment for both of us. You talk about the circle of life and all that.
When the two first met in person on Friday, they hugged. Asamoah said their conversation focused on the unlikelihood of two people of Ghanaian descent now joining forces in the NFL.
“He was just telling me how things were going to be and making 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 get to that place specifically, as a general manager or playing football at the highest level. So it’s a level of appreciation on both sides.
Asamoah, originally from Columbus, Ohio, is the son of Lawrence and Agnes, both born in Ghana. Asamoah, 22, visited Ghana once, in 2010.
“It was cool,” said Asamoah, who plans to return to Ghana next year. “It was an experience. I need to understand the cultural differences between here and America, and how many opportunities you have here in America.”
After playing at St. Francis De Sales High School in Columbus, Asamoah arrived in Oklahoma in 2018. He donned a redshirt as a rookie and then continued to improve in three seasons with the Sooners, including being named to the All-Big 12 Second Team in 2021.
The Vikings love the athletic 6-foot, 226-pound Asamoah’s reach as an inside linebacker. As Minnesota begins organized team activities on Tuesday, it expects to fit well into the 3-4 scheme under new defensive coordinator Ed Donatell.
“I saw the opportunity for me to run from sideline to sideline and really open up a lot,” Asamoah said. “But also being able to cover tight ends and running backs, getting man-to-man, that’s something I think I do very well.”
The first most notable thing about Asamoah on the pitch is his wearing of No. 33, which was star running back Dalvin Cook’s number in his first five seasons before moving to 4.
Asamoah noted that he wore No. 6 in high school, No. 24 in middle school, which is six, and now has another number which is six. He has an idea of what fans should do with old Cook No. 33 jerseys.
“I think people are just going to put duct tape on it with Asamoah on it,” he said with a laugh.
But if the linebacker develops as the Vikings hope, there will be new No. 33 jerseys with Asamoah on the back hanging in local stores.