Yannick Ngakoue excited to be playing for hometown team

Andrew Gillis
·4 min read

Yannick Ngakoue made emotional call to mom after trade to Ravens originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

The most important phone call for Yannick Ngakoue on Thursday might not have been the one that confirmed his trade from the Vikings to the Ravens. 

Instead, his call to his mother, Marlene Chantelly, is the one likely to have the most meaning. He told her she would be seeing a lot more of him. He is coming home.

“It definitely was an emotional moment just letting her know that I was coming back home and that I was on the next flight to come back to Maryland,” Ngakoue said Friday. “I was in the Midwest, it’s a long way from home. It was kind of difficult for her to be able to travel all the time with this pandemic. Me being down the street, it’s just so simple, so easy, we can definitely get together and spend a lot of time with each other.”Ngakoue was traded from the Vikings just six games into his time in Minnesota to join a Ravens team with Super Bowl aspirations. 

The former standout at the University of Maryland and Friendship Collegiate Academy in Washington D.C. spent the first four years of his career in Jacksonville. In search of a long-term deal that he and the Jaguars weren’t able to reach, he was traded to the Vikings. After Minnesota's poor start to the season, he was sent back home to Maryland. 

Of course, it’s not totally a storybook move for Ngakoue in playing for the local team.

His first love is their biggest rival.

“The Ravens are a team I definitely used to watch a lot growing up,” Ngakoue began. “I was a Steelers fan growing up, which is quite ironic, but those guys had crazy battles. As I remember being a kid watching them on TV, really low-scoring games like 10-3, games like that. Defensive battles.”

His first game, scheduled for Nov. 1 at M&T Bank Stadium, will be against the Pittsburgh Steelers. There, the pass-rusher’s presence will be felt for the first time in a Ravens uniform. Through 69 career games, he’s made 42.5 sacks and 92 quarterback hits. This season, he’s got five sacks in six games. 

But he’ll do so in an area where hometown fans will be able to watch the game on their local channels. 

Ngakoue (whose first name is pronounced Yah-Neek) said there were discussions about Baltimore during the offseason, but added everything happens for a reason. And for now, he’s happy with what’s happened through the 2020 season.

He credited his mother for his successes in the NFL and said her work ethic is a big reason why he’s become a talented pass-rusher in the league.

“She was a huge impact for me,” Ngakoue said. “She was a person that worked her tail off, double shifts and having a full-time study job during the week, and still managing to take me to practice and taking me back home, making sure I had a full stomach and things like that. She’s definitely a major reason why I’m in the shoes I’m in right now.”

Ngakoue has also made it a point to be charitable with his time. 

In July, he donated Chromebooks to children in Prince George County to aid with remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the past, he’s partnered with No Kid Hungry to help feed children across the nation. Now, he’ll be much closer to home doing so.

“I thought giving back was important,” Ngakoue said. “I was a kid in a similar situation as those kids, not really having guidance around the house. I had a single mom, so sometimes you tend to look for guidance outside of that and it’s not always positive. I just wanted to give them a positive light and try to brighten their day and give back and help them further their studies while we’re going through this pandemic.”

The Ravens have 10 games left on their regular season schedule, and perhaps 14 more in total — if Ngakoue and the Ravens are able to reach the goals they want to.

After that, all is on the table for Ngakoue, who is in a contract year — just like every other outside linebacker on the Ravens’ roster.

He hopes that his future in Baltimore as a Raven. It’s where he grew up, made a name for himself and where he’s able to be close to family and friends. 

But for now, he’ll take being back home for however long it lasts.“Things like that, I leave up to God,” Ngakoue said. “God, he’s already written out my story. I had no idea I would even be here having these conversations with you guys. I was all packed in in Minnesota with all my stuff, and things just happen sometimes. If it’s meant for me to be here for a long time, then that’s what it is and I’ll be more than excited to be back home. This is where it all started with me and my dream.”