As the Kansas City Chiefs gear up to chase another championship ring against the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LVII this Sunday in Las Vegas, it’s natural to ponder whether any doubts have crept into the minds of the team’s players.
Kansas City running back Isiah Pacheco fielded precisely that question on Wednesday. Recalling the pivotal moment of the 2023 season — when the Chiefs stood at 9-6 following their gut-wrenching 20-14 defeat at the hands of the Las Vegas Raiders — Pacheco unequivocally denied having any doubts.
“You know, you’re going to go through adversity,” he said. “Just keep working hard. Keep finding ways to get better. Every day, you go out there [and] just compete.”
Relentless competition has been Pacheco’s calling card throughout the season. He registered an impressive 935 rushing yards, 244 receiving yards and nine touchdowns across 14 games. He’s continued to shine in the postseason, amassing 254 rushing yards and three touchdowns. Pacheco’s fiery energy (and aggressive running style) have played a significant role in propelling Kansas City back to the championship game.
While Pacheco has been the linchpin of the Chiefs’ running back corps, his backup Clyde Edwards-Helaire has also made important contributions. But on Wednesday, the fourth-year running back wanted to acknowledge the guidance and support provided by another teammate: veteran running back Jerick “Jet” McKinnon, who has been designated to return from the team’s Reserve/Injured list — allowing him to practice with the team — but is unlikely to be activated to the roster for Sunday’s game.
“Jet McKinnon has been more than a big brother,” explained Edwards-Helaire. “He’s been my mentor. I feel like everyone needs someone like that. A 10-year vet, he’s experienced the highs and lows [and] battled through injuries — but also tasted success. That’s the kind of leadership you crave within a team. Jet embodies that.”
As a seasoned veteran, McKinnon’s wealth of experience and resilience in the face of adversity has indeed provided a cornerstone that younger players can lean upon. His presence in the locker room (and the practice field) extends beyond mere skill or athleticism; it’s been a beacon of leadership that has ignited a sense of purpose and unity among his teammates.
As the Chiefs prepare for the season’s final game, McKinnon’s mentorship will be invaluable. In the heat of battle — when the stakes are at their highest — it will be his steady guidance and unwavering support that will help galvanize his teammates. The leadership McKinnon has displayed among the running backs is just another example of the bedrock upon which Kansas City has built its team — one that has reached football’s grandest stage in four of the last five seasons.