MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — New Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah says his fiancee was the first to know the job was his — before he was even offered it.
“I felt energized afterwards,” Adofo-Mensah said of his first virtual meeting with Minnesota. When his fiancee sensed his excitement, she “went on Etsy that moment and bought a vintage Vikings hat,” he said.READ MORE: Vikings Assistant Head Coach Mike Pettine Leads Coaching Diversity Workshop
She was wearing that hat as Mark Wilf and the Vikings introduced their new general manager Thursday morning.
“I really do believe that I was meant to be your general manager,” Adofo-Mensah said. “I think it was just meant to be.”
“Kwesi has a strong leadership presence, a unique background and a variety of strong football experiences,” Wilf said. “He immediately stood out to us in his interviews because of his vision for long-term success and his comprehensive information gathering and intentional decision-making processes.”
That unique background includes degrees from Princeton and Stanford, a stint on Wall Street and nine seasons of NFL experience with two franchises.
Adofo-Mensah fielded multiple questions Thursday about the differences between himself and more traditional candidates who come from playing or scouting backgrounds, like Ryan Poles, who was a finalist for the Vikings job before the Bears hired him. But he insists that what he does is not all that different from what a more conventional “football guy” would do.
“A lot of the things that happen on Wall Street happen in the NFL,” he said. “It’s just a different canvas, but the same art.”
Though many have pegged him as an analytics hire, Adofo-Mensah — a self-described “passionate, lanky football fan” — said he doesn’t use that term, and doesn’t even really know what it means.
“It’s about being thoughtful and intentional, and I don’t think that’s a new thing,” he said. “I think that word is about who’s doing the work, not what’s being done.”
Traditional scouting and analytics “honestly are the same thing,” he later added. “They’re just two different avenues to get there.”READ MORE: Vikings Get Big Pass-Rush Boost With Hunter's Healthy Return
The avenues that got Adofo-Mensah where he is were paved by a long list of people, many of whom he thanked during his introductory press conference. None more important, in his estimation, than his parents.
“Gratitude is pretty foundational for me,” he said. As he tearfully thanked his mother, he shared a piece of advice she gave him, which still drives him: “All I can do is work.”
“When I see problems now, I kind of get this smile on my face, I think of my mom and I roll up my sleeves, and that’s when I’m most comfortable,” Adofo-Mensah said.
He said he occasionally plays a voicemail from his late father when he needs a boost of inspiration.
“One of the things he was best at was telling me he was proud of me, and I know he’d be very proud if he was here today,” he said.
Adofo-Mensah’s tenure will begin with an effort to get to know the organization, top to bottom. When he was with the 49ers, he learned to connect with players by teaching them financial literacy.
“They’re just great dudes, they just happen to be really great at football,” he said. “Just be human, be straight up with them, be genuine.”
After that, Adofo-Mensah will dive into the most important decision he’ll help make: Who will be the Vikings’ next head coach? He said he, along with the Wilfs and several other member of the organization, will choose a coach collaboratively.
“We know what we want to find. We want leadership. We want somebody who’s gonna rally the collective over the individual,” he said.
Once a coach is hired, Adofo-Mensah said they’ll work in lockstep to begin building a winning culture in Minnesota.MORE NEWS: Vikings Add Analytics Expert Demitrius Washington In VP Role
“We know the destination: sustained success and championships for these great fans,” Adofo-Mensah said. “Our job here is to win divisions, make the playoffs, win championships.”