This blog post was written by BYU Cougars guest blogger Ken Driggs
Roy High School’s outstanding quarterback Jim McMahon wanted to go to Notre Dame, the ultimate name in Catholic football teams, but settled for BYU. He was uncomfortable with the behavior restrictions in the BYU environment, but his football performances were legendary and record-setting. He didn’t fit the mold of the classic Cougar athlete. He was brash, irreverent, cocky, outlandish, blunt and salty.
BYU fans didn’t seem to mind. What they saw was a winner on the field. His football exploits were legendary, and in the early days of BYU ascendancy, he was a prime minister of performance. His feats on the field netted him the highest draft ranking in BYU football history, the fifth player taken in the first round of the 1982 NFL draft.
Fast-forward 31 years. A lot has changed in the world, the LDS Church and BYU. Who could have predicted that the next time a BYU football player was drafted by an NFL team with the fifth pick in the first round, it would be a one-year starter, a humble, black, Mormon defensive end from Ghana, Ezekial “Ziggy” Ansah?
His personality and style couldn’t be more different from the antics that pervaded the McMahon era, and even became more pronounced during his Chicago Bears career and Super Bowl victory. Ziggy is humble, engaging, understated, obedient, quietly cheerful and only becomes a terror when the whistle sounds to start the football game. The Detroit Lions wisely saw something very deep and meaningful about a young man who progressed so far in such a short period of time.
Like McMahon, Ansah’s NFL career is likely to bring great joy to BYU fans, like a thirst-quenching soda, but I predict that Ansah’s will go down with a little less carbonation and a better aftertaste.
Ken Driggs of Mesa, Ariz., is a BYU graduate and served as Cosmo in the 1960s. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.