Will Ghanaian star Ansah retain notable NFL standing in 2023?


There are some 6,000 miles between Ghana and the United States, with the vast expanse of ocean that is the Atlantic covering much of that.


The modern world is, however, much smaller than it once was, with enhancement in technology and travel ensuring that nobody is ever out of the loop and no destination is beyond reach.

News are beamed, shared and discussed from Kumasi to Kingston, while dreams of spreading wings well beyond the boundaries of a geographical home are formed from Tamale to Turin. For many of those piecing together a picture of a new life, professional sport figures prominently.

One man to have trodden that path is Ezekiel Ansah, with the Accra native chasing an American dream that he ultimately caught up with. Initially an aspiring basketball player, Ansah would make his mark on the other side of the globe as an NFL superstar.

The last side he represented, the San Francisco 49ers, are currently priced at +300 in Super Bowl bets for 2023, with another thrilling battle for supremacy in gridiron circles beginning to draw to a close. Arizona is the final destination for those still clinging to hopes to be crowned the best team on the planet, with one of the most elaborate spectacles in sport set to play out on February 12.

Ansah won’t figure in a glitzy Glendale showpiece, as he remains a free agent at present, but he has more than made his mark on the NFL scene and will continue to keep a close eye on how those he once turned out for are getting on.

The 49ers have been pulling up trees, putting themselves in contention for the grandest of prizes, while the exploits of the Detroit Lions in the 2022-23 campaign have not gone unnoticed. It is in Michigan that Ansah boasts the strongest ties, and can still lay claim to a notable standing at Ford Field.

Ansah was selected by the Lions with the fifth overall pick of the 2013 NFL Draft and would spend five years with the franchise, racking up 30 sacks across his first three seasons as a destructive defensive end. In the 2015 campaign, he toppled the opposition quarterback on 14.5 occasions and posted 47 tackles – an undoubted career high – and sits 10th on the team’s all-time sack chart.

The Lions could have done with some of those qualities this time around, as they stumbled out of the blocks en route to a 1-7 start. A stunning reversal in fortune saw them emerge victorious in eight of their remaining 10 fixtures, with a play-off spot missed out on by the narrowest of margins.

The Lions, led by head coach Dan Campbell, are now piecing together plans for 2023-24. As part of that process, they must decide which players are worth retaining and which can be considered surplus to requirements.

Any pending free agents could see a franchise tag placed upon them, but that would require sizable shows of both faith and funds from a team that boasts two picks inside the top 20 of the 2023 Draft. Ansah was the last man that the Lions franchise tagged back in 2018, as a former Pro Bowl selection, and it may be that he retains that place in the history books for another 12 months and remains a source of inspiration to those back in Africa as he proves that no dream is too big.

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