Twenty thousand residents of the town, 40 players on the New Canaan High School Football team. A handful of Rams move on to play football at the college level each year, and just 1.6% of college football players make it to the NFL.
Yet against all odds, the residents of New Canaan on Sunday saw one of their own playing on the sport’s biggest stage.
New Canaan High School class of 2016 alumnus Lucas Niang has defied the odds his whole career, and saw his hard work pay off when the Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 38-35 in Super Bowl LVII.
“Playing in the Super Bowl is what I have dreamt of since I was playing PeeWee football in third grade,” Niang told NewCanaanite.com when asked what the Super Bowl means to him. “It is an unbelievable experience and I feel very blessed to get to this point.”
Niang is a 6’6”, 315-pound offensive tackle for Kansas City, and is in his second year playing in the NFL. He was drafted 96th overall in the 2020 draft, yet sat out his first season due to COVID-19. This year, Niang was a contributor for the Super Bowl-winning Chiefs, appearing in seven games as well as making his mark on the Super Bowl.
As the score read 28-27 early in the fourth quarter with the Chiefs narrowly leading the Eagles, KC faced a 3rd-and-goal at the Philly four-yard line. As Kevin Burkhardt uttered the words “and Lucas Niang has subbed in,” cheers went up across New Canaan. They watched Niang impact the game-altering touchdown that won the Chiefs the Super Bowl.
His journey to the NFL and rise to fame traces back to a storied New Canaan High School career. In his junior and senior seasons as a Ram, Lucas was an important part of back-to-back state championship winning teams.
“I had a lot of mentors throughout my youth and high school football careers that helped me get to the point I am at now,” Niang said about his time at New Canaan.
When he graduated in 2016, Niang was ranked as the number-one offensive tackle in Connecticut. He decided to take his talents to TCU, and once again saw great success. As a college junior, Niang started all 13 games at right tackle and didn’t allow a single sack, earning second-team Big 12 honors. Niang was primed for another great year his senior season, before an injury forced him to sit out the final five games. Despite this setback, Niang’s career at TCU was a major success, and he is “very thankful for the amazing [TCU] coaching staff and teammates” that propelled him into the NFL, he said. Niang played all four years at TCU before the Chiefs drafted him.
Just two years into his NFL career, Niang is already an important piece on the best team in the league. Reaching the pinnacle of professional football is an immense task that requires all 53 players on an NFL roster, meaning every player on the Chiefs had to be prepared for the game.
“Preparing for the Super Bowl is different due to the magnitude of the game,” Niang said. “We do as much as we can to prepare the first week off, because we have a lot of media obligations the second week. It is very important for all of us to stay focused on the task at hand, and not get distracted by the activities in Glendale, as a Superbowl is on the line.”
For Niang and his fellow teammates, the Super Bowl win meant everything, he said. They have dedicated so much of their lives to the sport of football. Despite the challenges and constant grind that is required, Niang said he’s grateful.
“I am so thankful for everyone that has helped me reach my goals,” Niang said. “I am especially grateful for my family, who has always been there and kept me grounded throughout this process.”
Now all that’s left for Niang and his teammates to do is celebrate after their hard fought victory.
His mom, Fatou Niang, reflected on the importance of her son playing in the Super Bowl.
“This is an amazing moment for Lucas and our family,” she said. “We could not be more proud of him, as he has worked so hard and committed so much to reach his dreams. Yet these feelings are not solely in the Niang household, as across New Canaan people watched and cheered as their hometown hero made his dreams come true.”
Congratulations to World Champion Lucas Niang and the Niang family. The offensive line played lights out on Sunday, a huge factor in the Chiefs victory. You make all of us New Canaan-Kansans extremely proud (quite a few of us here).
It was a thrill to watch Lucas on Sunday and to cheer like crazy for Kansas City! What a game. Congratulations to the Niang family, to the Chiefs, and to New Canaan’s Pee-Wee football program for inspiring a gifted athlete to reach for the big stage.
What a thrilling moment for all of New Canaan! Lucas is a perfect example of NC pride, exhibiting integrity and excellence on and off the field. This is a WIN for New Canaan as well for the Niang Family. Couldn’t be more proud!! (also shout out to Donovan West for writing an excellent article).
Lucas, Congratulation on your hard work. You are a good example for Kids to follow.That when you work hard you can achieve anything in life. Way to go.And good luck in the future.