On Sunday, February 2, 2020, the Kansas City Chiefs won the National Football League’s Super Bowl. The Chiefs defeated the San Francisco 49ers by the final score of 31-20 in Super Bowl 54. At the end of the game, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes was named the Most Valuable Player for his performance in Kansas City’s first Super Bowl title in 50 years.
While the Super Bowl win is a huge deal in Kansas City, as well as the entire state of Missouri, the Super Bowl title is also a proud moment for the city of Pueblo, and Colorado State University-Pueblo. While the Denver Broncos are rivals of the Chiefs, there is a positive in
Kansas City’s win. CSU-Pueblo student, Mike Pennel, was among the winners.
Pennel is an alumni of CSU-Pueblo. Pennel played football for the Thunderwolves in his senior season in 2013 as defensive tackle. Pennel grew up in Aurora, Colorado, and played football at Grandview High School.
As a freshman and sophomore, Pennel played football at Scottsdale Community College. In his two year stint, Pennel was ranked as the number six defensive tackle among all junior and community colleges. In 2012, he played at Arizona State University, where he recorded four tackles in five games.
Pennel then transferred to CSU-Pueblo, where he was brought in by CSU-Pueblo head football coach John Wristen.
“I told Mike ‘This is your last stop and I want to help you fulfill your dreams, but you’ve got to understand you’ve got to do it the right way,’” Wristen said. “He appreciated someone reaching out, to have that coach-to-player relationship, and to hold him accountable. He bought into what we were doing.”
In 2014, Pennel was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Green Bay Packers, where he spent three seasons. In 2017, Pennel was claimed off waivers by the New York Jets, and he spent two seasons there. On March 14, 2019, Pennel signed a two-year contract with the New England Patriots, but he was released after the preseason.
On Saturday, October 19, 2019, the Chiefs put faith in Pennel by signing him to a contract. He didn’t disappoint either, as he put up 13 tackles in 11 games this season. One of the tackles coming on the biggest stage in the Super Bowl.
Pennel also had an assisted tackle in the game, but perhaps his biggest play of the game was the hit he laid on San Francisco 49ers quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo. Garoppolo wound up throwing the ball to his wide receiver, Deebo Samuel, and as soon as he released the ball, Pennel plowed him to the turf.
The pass was intercepted by Chiefs cornerback Bashaud Breeland, mainly due to the pressure Pennel put on Garoppolo. Many replays of the interception show Garoppolo’s eyes closed as he threw the ball, almost as if he were anticipating the big hit from Pennel.
“Working with the coaches and players, it all just works,” Pennel said. “My personality fits well in the locker room. Guys come in early and stay late and want to be good. When everybody wants to be great, that’s when you get the good results.”