We’re going to try and get to an actual point here pretty quickly, but there’s something you need to understand that’s funny about being reporters.
We’ll use Kyle Van Noy as an example.
We ask him a lot of questions. And there are times when you think you’re asking it right — and going to get a good answer — and it’s a swing and a miss.
And then there are the times to just try and see if you can get some quick line, or get someone like Van Noy to go into just a tiny little detail. And that’s when a genuinely wonderful surprise happens.
That was the case when examining the friendship of Van Noy and Ziggy Ansah last fall.
Ansah was, of course, off in the NFL. Van Noy was capping his senior year, setting his sights on joining him. Now they are teammates again, a really cool thing that is fun to write about.
But I go back to this quick, customary interview session with Van Noy late last season. Truth is, it was going nowhere. Van Noy was quiet and exhausted after practice. He wasn’t saying a thing. We weren’t setting him up to say anything particularly interesting, either.
Then I just happened to ask him if he kept touch during the season with Ansah, maybe talked to him about pro football.
“Funny you ask,” Van Noy said, breaking into a smile as if he just recorded a third-down sack.
He usually does like talking about teammates more than himself, but you could tell he had a story.
Ansah had just sent his old BYU buddy a little video clip.
Someone quicker and smarter than me followed up: What exactly was on that video, Kyle?
“Just a big African in a car, talking trash,” Van Noy said, the interview area erupting in laughter.
Because we knew Ziggy enough to know how funny this picture was. You could see how tickled Kyle was to share this story, perking up in the late-October evening enough to even want to share a laugh with the media.
Detroit traded up early Friday to take Van Noy with the No. 40 overall (eighth pick of the second round) selection of the NFL draft, a May after taking Ansah with the fifth overall pick.
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: Ansah must be a heck of a guy, because you couldn’t find one person in that BYU program jealous of his meteoric rise.
Let’s be real here: Reporters can ask a ton of stupid questions over the course of a season, and we can get petty with each other.
There can be jealousy among coaches. There sure can be jealously among players who are vying for playing time, among other perks and frills. We’ve all seen the workplace poison before.
But Ansah seamlessly managed a lot of aw-shucks talent with awesome athletic ability.
Tell me, really, do you find this fair: Ansah’s barely played any football in his life and he signs a contract that virtually guarantees him about $19 million.
Van Noy, for his considerably lower selection timing, figures to make somewhere in the neighborhood of $1 million a season and $2 million for signing. Ansah’s dotted-line bonus alone was nearly six times as big -- $12 million.
Can anyone tell me Ansah will have a better career than Van Noy?
I’m not sure.
Can anyone tell me Ansah — physical potential or not — is really worth that much more than Van Noy? I just don’t think so.
That the two are so close (old road-game roommates and such), and Van Noy doesn’t harbor the slightest grudge — that says a lot about both of them.
Detroit’s been hit with a lot of hard times. It got two of the least petty people you’ll ever meet.
Speaking as someone with family in the area, Ansah and Van Noy aren’t going to solve all of the problems in Michigan. Not even these two can buy enough cars to talk trash in to change a proud region’s misfortunes.
But they can play hard, be earnest, and hopefully treat us all with a really good anecdote once in a while.