EAGAN, Minn. — "I really do believe I was meant to be here to be general manager. I think it was just meant to be."
New Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah was introspective and heartfelt Thursday as he met the media and his new Minnesota fanbase following a whirlwind hiring process that landed him atop a storied football franchise.
Wearing a purple tie as a nod to his new employer, Adofo-Mensah gave Minnesota a personal look at who he is and how his decision-making process will work. The new GM described himself as an enthusiastic person dedicated to the process of collaboration, "openhearted and openminded" about learning... meeting everyone in the room and learning their language."
"I'm always about different viewpoints, different ideas," Adofo-Mensah explained when asked about how he approaches the collaborative process. "You want information that covers the blind spots," he said.
Adofo-Mensah came highly recommended, Vikings co-owner Mark Wilf told reporters, and it was clear from the first interview he was a leading candidate for a very important job.
"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," Vikings co-owner said about his new GM. "He is widely respected, well-liked, and people strongly believe he will make an immediate positive impact and has a high ceiling for this organization, the Minnesota Vikings, to evolve and grow."
The former Browns executive says his experience on Wall Street before entering the NFL with San Francisco taught him the importance of emotional stability when making decisions, and about being held accountable. He described starting in the world of professional football "not thinking he knows anything," keeping his mind completely open to learning. "If I'm going to be around great ones (leaders) I'm going to listen to everything they say," Adofo-Mensah shared.
The new GM spoke of what made the job attractive, describing a family atmosphere with the ownership group, incredible facilities, a passionate and proud fan base and a "talented roster.... you get excited about what you see here."
"Our approach to building this roster will be intentional, thoughtful, thorough and detailed, well-planned. We know the destination... it's the same success and championships for these great fans."
He told reporters he was meeting with players immediately after the press conference, but described identifying and hiring a new head coach as job one, a person he said will be "a partner." The Vikings have virtually interviewed a reported eight head coaching candidates, and with Green Bay offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett reportedly landing the job in Denver, that number is now down to seven. Adofo-Mensah said there will be discussions about coaching candidates today.
"We know what we want to find, we want leadership, we want someone who's going to value the collective over the individual. We want someone with vision, who can communicate," he said.
On the personal side of things, Adofo-Mensah described himself as a person to whom gratitude is "foundational." Before talking about the football operation he thanked a number of people who helped him arrive at this moment, first and foremost his mother.
"My superhero" he said, fighting to hold back tears. "Growing up, it was always 'you can do anything'... practices, didn't matter what it was, it was always, 'did you try your hardest, did you practice, did you prepare...' and it was always process over results, she was the first person who taught me that."
Adofo-Mensah then mentioned his late father, whose last voicemail is still on his phone. "I know he'd be very proud of me today."
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