NFL playoffs are here! On Saturday January 15th the 2022 Super Bowl playoffs will kickoff in Cincinnati with the Las Vegas Raiders taking on the Bengals. The 4:30 eastern game on Saturday will be one of six over the course of the weekend. We will watch the New England Patriots at the Buffalo Bills, Philadelphia Eagles at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, San Fransisco 49ers at Dallas Cowboys, Pittsburgh Steelers at Kansas City Chiefs and the Arizona Cardinals at the Los Angeles Rams. Sure, there could be some lopsided games in front of us next weekend, but there is expected to be six very good football games to watch as each of the 14 teams in the playoffs eye the Vince Lombardi trophy. Of the games available to watch next weekend though, two of them will feature players from the city of Ottawa.
Representing the nation’s capital in the NFL are both Eli Ankou and Neville Gallimore. Ankou will play Saturday night on the Buffalo Bills defensive line against the New England Patriots at Highmark Stadium. This will not be Ankou’s first time in the playoffs, having spent the 2017 playoff run with the Jacksonville Jaguars, defeating the Buffalo Bills and Pittsburgh Steelers prior to losing to the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship. In 33 career games, spread across the NFL with the Jaguars, Cleveland Browns, Dallas Cowboys, Tennessee Titans and Buffalo Bills Eli Ankou has made 43 tackles, and 3 sacks including one on Tom Brady earlier this season.
In his first NFL playoff run though, is Ottawa’s Neville Gallimore who will suit up for the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday against the San Fransisco 49ers. Gallimore missed the majority of the 2021 NFL season with a dislocated elbow, however his impact on the Dallas Cowboys defence has been huge since he’s returned to the line-up. In 4 starts to close out the season he’s made 13 tackles, 2 sacks and 3 tackles for loss. He’s come a long way since he first picked up the game of football in Ottawa, and with the way the Dallas Cowboys have been playing this season, there is a very real chance that we see him represent the 613 in the Super Bowl at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles. Really, if you wanted to watch closely in this year’s playoffs, there is a chance that both Ankou and Gallimore make it to the Super Bowl.
It may be a long shot, but it would make history, and it would put a major spotlight on the city of Ottawa. The football has grown so much in the city over the last decade-plus, and it would be a perfect way to show the entire world on the biggest stage in all of sports.
Seeing both Gallimore and Ankou in the Super Bowl would also be very inspiring, and would show all of the young athletes in Ottawa that they can achieve their goals as well. It is something that athletes have been doing from the 613 for some time now, and with there being success now by a few, it’s clear that there will only be more players in the same position as these two in the future. Maybe even the near future.
Eligible for this year’s NFL Draft are Ottawa-raised football players Jesse Luketa, Luiji Vilain, Chris Fournier, Patrice Rene, Liam Dobson and Katley Joseph. Of the list, the two that may have the biggest spotlight would be Jesse Luketa and Luiji Vilain, but that doesn’t mean the other 4 will not make it to the league as well. Luketa, coming out of Penn State will be attending the 2022 NFL Combine as well as the Reese’s Senior Bowl, exactly like Neville Gallimore did in 2020. Luiji Vilain is coming off of a 10 sack season at Wake Forest and spent the January 8th weekend in Texas at the College Gridiron Showcase.
Future years can also see Akheem Mesidor of West Virginia, Kervens Bonhomme of South Alabama, Jonathan Sutherland & Christian Veilleux of Penn State, Samuel Obiang of Texas State, Wesley Bailey & Rene Konga of Rutgers and more come out of Ottawa and make it to the NFL. The talent in the nation’s capital is only getting better, and with better coaching in the city now, compared to past years, having real football training programs, and good grassroots, it’s clear that the future is extremely bright.
Some names that have really made a big difference in the city already would be both Victor Tedondo and Jean Guillaume. Tedondo has built an empire in the city with Gridiron Academy, becoming a go to spot for football training while Guillaume has made a name for himself as a high school football coach and recruiting consultant in the city, helping athletes get to the next level. There have been a number of other coaches making waves in the city as well, like Donnie Ruiz and what he’s created at Capital City Academy, Iseah Montgiraud at Limitless Era, Eddie Brown at EB4 All-Star Performance and others. With these coaches, and programs making commitments to the athletes in the city, there has been a large growth of talent and passion for the game of football in the city of Ottawa, all starting with the grass roots.
There is a reason why both Neville Gallimore and Eli Ankou are where they are today, in the NFL playoffs. Of course, they are insanely talented athletes, but they also had good football upbringings. They had good coaching, and were placed in great opportunities at a young age. Ankou for example; training with Gridiron Academy, really set him up for success in his early teens. He may have been one of the first athletes to train with Tedondo, but the work that they put in installed a work mindset into Eli Ankou. He then continued doing everything he was taught on and off the football field, and executed it on the football field, doing so in Canada at St. Peter Catholic High School in Orleans, and then in the states at Red Lion Christian Academy in Bear, Delaware which set him up to go to UCLA, then the NFL.
With the future looking brighter than ever in the city of Ottawa for the game of football, it’s about time that the game is brought to everyone’s attention. The football community is quite big in the city, and it seems like people are starting to work together to get it to the level it deserves to be at, side by side with the football across the border, but there is still a lot more work to be done.
In 2022 to be a part of the football community in the city of Ottawa, be sure to tap into the game of football at all levels. Here in the nation’s capital we are fortunate to have football played at all levels. There is professional football with the CFL’s Ottawa Redblacks, junior football with the Ottawa Sooners, University football with the Carleton Ravens and UOttawa Gee Gees, Competitive province-wide football, High School football and club football. As we continue to see names come from the city and enter the professional ranks, we also see these athletes representing Ottawa everywhere they go. Neville Gallimore represents the 613 through his brother’s company Trenchlife Apparel which he wears on a regular basis and posts about often, and Jesse Luketa has kept his social media username as “Ottawa’s Very Own” to let people know where he is from. More and more players are publicly putting on for the city while they reach new milestones in their football careers, they are proud of where they are from, and it would only help move the football community if all of Ottawa, all 1 million plus people were on board with uplifting football, and levelling up.
Be here for the level up.