Ebenezer Ekuban

Ebenezer Ekuban
No. 91, 96, 98
Position: Defensive end
Personal information
Date of birth: (1976-05-29) May 29, 1976
Place of birth: Accra, Ghana
Height: 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)
Weight: 275 lb (125 kg)
Career information
High school: Bladensburg (MD)
College: North Carolina
NFL Draft: 1999 / Round: 1 / Pick: 20
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Tackles: 224
Sacks: 36.5
INTs: 0
Player stats at NFL.com
Player stats at PFR

Ebenezer Ekuban, Jr. (born May 29, 1976) is a former American football defensive end in the National Football League for the Dallas Cowboys. He played college football for the University of North Carolina. He is distinguished as being the first Ghanaian to play in the National Football League.

Early years

Ekuban started playing football during his junior year of high school, as a tight end and defensive lineman for Bladensburg High School in Bladensburg, Maryland. He was an honor student and soon turned into a standout player, which led to a scholarship from the University of North Carolina.

As a tight end, he had only 6 receptions for 66 yards and one touchdown in his first two years. He was converted to defensive end between his sophomore and junior seasons. As a junior he played in 10 games (2 starts). He became a full-time starter as a senior and went on to register 96 tackles, 7 sacks and a school record 23 tackles for loss. He received second-team All-American and All-ACC honors.

Professional career


Pre-draft measurables
Ht Wt 40-yd dash 10-yd split 20-yd split 20-ss 3-cone Vert Broad BP
6 ft 3 in 281 lb 4.72 s 4.39 s 32 in 9 ft 4 in
All values from NFL Combine

Dallas Cowboys

Although the Dallas Cowboys had invested their first draft choice in selecting a defensive end in 3 of the previous 5 drafts, they were still looking to replace the production of Charles Haley and Tony Tolbert. With only two years of total experience at defensive end, the team thought that Ekuban was coming into his own, so they traded to the Seattle Seahawks the 22nd (Lamar King) and 140th (Floyd Wedderburn) selections, in exchange for the 20th pick, in order to select him in the first round of the 1999 NFL draft.

The Cowboys wanted Ekuban to become the pass-rushing bookend to former Tar Heel teammate Greg Ellis. As a rookie he played in 16 games (2 starts) and was named to the NFL All-Rookie team. In 2000, he remained in a reserve role and although he missed 4 games with a dislocated toe, he still led the team with 6.5 sacks and 2 forced fumbles.

In 2001, he was named the starter at right defensive end, but suffered a herniated disc in the season-opener and was placed on the injured reserve list. The next year in 15 starts, he registered 1 sack, 1 forced fumble and at the time career-highs of 43 tackles and 20 quarterback pressures. Although he played a key role in the defense, he was still one of just five starting defensive ends in the NFL with one or no sacks.

In 2003, he had a nice start with 1.5 sacks against the New York Giants, but found himself in new head coach Bill Parcells' dog house and was eventually deactivated in a December game against the Philadelphia Eagles. This led to a brief public confrontation between the two in the media.

At the end of the year, the Cowboys did not make an attempt to re-sign him, preferring to instead sign free agent defensive end Marcellus Wiley. Ekuban left as a first round disappointment, that came into the league as a speed rusher, but could only produce 13 sacks in 5 seasons.

Cleveland Browns

He signed with the Cleveland Browns as a free agent in 2004, reuniting with defensive coordinator Dave Campo.[1] Playing alongside Gerard Warren and Courtney Brown, who were also considered first round disappointments, he went on to have a strong season with 39 tackles and a career high 8 sacks in 16 games (11 starts).

In the 2005 offseason, new head coach Romeo Crennel changed the defensive line personnel, in order to implement a new 3-4 front. Ekuban was traded to the Denver Broncos, along with defensive tackle Michael Myers, in exchange for running back Reuben Droughns.[2]

Denver Broncos

With the Broncos also signing free agent Courtney Brown, as well as obtaining Ekuban, Myers and Gerard Warren in separate trades with the Browns, the local media referred to the Broncos new defensive line as the "Browncos", since all four starters were also the Browns starters the year before, under new defensive line coach Andre Patterson.[3] In 2005, he registered 27 tackles and 4 sacks in 16 games (4 starts). The next year he had 63 tackles and 7 sacks in 15 starts.

Ekuban missed the entire 2007 season due to a right achilles tendon tear, suffered in a preseason game against his former team, the Dallas Cowboys.[4]

In 2008, he was re-signed to a one-year $3.12 million contract, to compete with Jarvis Moss and John Engelberger for the left defensive end position. Ekuban was the last remaining "Brownco", as Warren was traded to the Oakland Raiders the year before and Brown and Myers were waived in previous years. He finished the season with 38 tackles and 5 sacks in 15 games (10 starts).

In the 2009 offseason, new head coach Josh McDaniels implemented a 3-4 defense and decided not to re-sign him, since he was not considered a good fit for the scheme.

NFL stats

Year Team Games Combined Tackles Tackles Assisted Tackles Sacks Forced Fumbles Fumble Recoveries
1999 DAL 16 23 19 4 2.5 0 0
2000 DAL 12 28 21 7 6.5 2 1
2001 DAL 1 2 1 1 0.0 0 0
2002 DAL 16 31 26 5 1.0 0 2
2003 DAL 15 26 18 8 2.5 3 0
2004 CLE 16 37 28 9 8.0 1 2
2005 DEN 16 27 19 8 4.0 0 1
2006 DEN 15 63 48 15 7.0 1 0
2008 DEN 15 38 29 9 5.0 0 1
Career 122 275 209 66 36.5 7 7


Personal life

In the fall of 2010, Ekuban assisted the football staff at Regis Jesuit High School in Aurora, Colorado as an assistant coach. He also was hired by the Denver Broncos to serve in their player development department.


Ekuban has been said to have "the perfect name for an evil wizard" by BioWare video game writer Brad Prince.[6]


  1. "Cowboys deactivated Ekuban vs. Philly". Retrieved May 23, 2016.
  2. "Browns send D-lineman to Denver for rusher". Retrieved May 23, 2016.
  3. "We'll take that defensive line". Retrieved May 23, 2016.
  4. "Cowboys 31, Broncos 20". Retrieved May 23, 2016.
  5. "Ebenezer Ekuban Stats". ESPN.com. ESPN Internet Ventures. Retrieved 13 June 2015.
  6. "Taking a Knee with 303: Drew Karpyshyn". Retrieved May 23, 2016.
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