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Kwesi Adofo-Mensah Prefers 'Thoughtful & Intentional' Process Over 'Analytics' Buzz

EAGAN, Minn. — There was an obvious buzzword surrounding Kwesi Adofo-Mensah he was announced as the new Vikings general manager.


And that's understandable, given the roles Adofo-Mensah has worked and experiences he's gained his professional life, both on Wall Street and in the NFL.

The only problem? Adofo-Mensah almost despises that term. He offered a strong explanation for why when he was asked about it Thursday morning at his introductory press conference at Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center.

View photos of new Vikings GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah during his introductory press conference with the media on Jan. 27 at the TCO Performance Center.

Adofo-Mensah recalled a story from 2017 when he was the Manager of Football Research and Development for the 49ers and a new front office staff arrived.

"I remember when John [Lynch] and Kyle [Shanahan] came to San Francisco, we had a meeting where everybody goes around the room and introduces themselves," Adofo-Mensah said. "I took that opportunity to stand up and say, 'I don't know what analytics is.' And I might have laid a little expletive in there, so I could be a little extra 'football guy.' "

"For me, it's about being thoughtful and intentional. I don't think that's a new thing," Adofo-Mensah added. "I think that word is about who's doing the work and what's being done."

Lynch, the general manager of the 49ers since 2017, told a similar story from a while back in San Francisco.

"He always hated when we called it analytics," Lynch said. "He preferred research and development.

"[He is] just a very forward thinker, but he wanted to learn about watching football and studying players and did a tremendous job of that," added Lynch, who was in place when Adofo-Mensah was promoted to Director of Football Research and Development.

Adofo-Mensah has plenty of intellect.

He first graduated from Princeton University with a bachelor's degree in economics and later went on to receive his master's degree in economics from Stanford University.

But he didn't jump to the NFL right after college, instead working as an associate portfolio manager at Taylor Woods Capital Management, which is a property management company based in Connecticut.

He was later the Vice President/Executive Director at Credit Suisse as a commodities trader.

Credit Suisse is global investment bank and financial services firm founded and based in Switzerland.

View photos of new Vikings GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah during his first day as a Viking at the TCO Performance Center on Jan. 26.

Only when he was working toward a Ph.D. at Stanford with the notion of becoming a professor did he happen to cross paths with Brian Hampton at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference.

Hampton, then the director of football administration and analytics for the 49ers, helped Adofo-Mensah get his start in the NFL.

Adofo-Mensah worked for San Francisco, discovering ways to best help the personnel department and coaching staff, until the conclusion of the 2019 season, when the 49ers were the NFC's No. 1 seed and made the Super Bowl in his final season in San Francisco.

Adofo-Mensah told that while following a process is bigger to him than actually getting results, it doesn't mean that his process is ever set in stone.

"You're always modeling your process," Adofo-Mensah said. "Process isn't some stationary thing where you say, 'I think I figured it out.' It's actually the opposite. When I was first in San Francisco building those models, we built them to actually tear them down every year.

"You see what worked and what didn't and almost you start from scratch. If you think about empirical research or whatever, it's trying to consistently build on experience. So, if your experience is three years, OK, let's do another year," Adofo-Mensah added. "What did that do? What did I learn from that year? Not to always take it back, but analytics is always just about learning from experience. How do you learn from experience? You keep score and see how that score is doing."

Cleveland hired Adofo-Mensah as its Vice President of Football Operations in 2020, a role he held for the past two seasons.

And while Adofo-Mensah may have had a number-based background in San Francisco, he was able to form a more well-rounded approach during his time with the Browns under General Manager Andrew Berry.

Essentially working as Berry's right-hand man, Adofo-Mensah was directeded to learn and expand his original skill set.

"He pushed me, he didn't let me coast. He didn't let me do that stuff for the whole time I was there. He was training me for this day," Adofo-Mensah told "We had people there that did my [previous] job, so he allowed me to kind of use my skill set of developing, but also my core functions and help them grow. But really, he was like, 'You're going to watch players, you're going to write reports, do all those things. And when you talk in meetings, you can bridge what you're seeing with your love language of analytics. I want your core foundation to be that.'

"He had me in meetings; I'd be out at practice every day talking to players. He pushed me," Adofo-Mensah continued. "You'll hear me talk about him all the time, but everybody needs somebody in their life that believes in them more than they believe in themselves almost. He's that person for me, especially in an NFL sense. Man, he's been training me for this day since I got there.

"Some days when you're in a discussion and it's a thing where, 'This is 50-50,' he'd look at you and say, 'Hey, you're running the team, what do you do?' " Adofo-Mensah added. "You kind of want to take this rep off but you can't. Again, he was so diligent. As busy as that job is, he's doing that for me and other people there. He's an incredible person."

Adofo-Mensah will surely use his financial and systematic background to help in his new role as the Vikings GM, but he'll also be tasked with helping hire a head coach, roster construction and salary cap management, among other things.

Just don't call him an analytics guru. He's more than that.

"His aptitude is off the charts," Lynch said. "I do think a huge thing is I love people that are curious about things, and Kwesi kind of has this insatiable curiosity for the game of football.

"Trying to figure out how you quantify that in everything we're talking about, so when we're talking ball, he's going, 'OK, what do you mean?' He'll ask really good questions, but then he'll take that and two days later will say, 'I was thinking of this and this. What if we did this?' You're like, 'Dang, that's a hell of an idea,' " Lynch added. "So when you can make those, and sometimes there's information and you're like, 'What do I do with this?' He was always the guy that made very practical applications that made sense to everybody. It was an invaluable resource in terms of scouting, both in the collegiate and free agent levels. A very forward thinker but also kind of grounded in knowing, 'Let's not give them useless information. Let's come up with information that really helps.' "