Chiefs' Pennel ready to represent Kansas City in playoffs

Posted at 6:04 AM, Jan 10, 2020

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Don't believe the back of his football card: This is Mike Pennel's second stint in Kansas City.

"I've been in remission for a while now," Pennel, a Chiefs defensive lineman, said.

As a boy growing up in Topeka, Pennel was diagnosed with a rare kidney cancer known as Wilms Tumor. He battled and beat the disease at Children's Mercy Hospital.

"I definitely go back to the hospital now, see the kids and talk to the doctor," Pennel said.

In fact, Pennel lives just down the street from Children's Mercy.

"Being able to live by the hospital I went through chemotherapy at, it's really just a dream come true," he said.

Part of that dream is that the new Chiefs player is a long-time Chiefs fan.

Even though he spent most of his youth in Denver, Pennel never let go of those Kansas City - and in this case - the Kansas City Chiefs. Some of his all-time favorite players growing up were Neil Smith, Trent Green and Priest Holmes. Of course, he was in enemy territory.

"It was just me and my family (out in Denver), that was about it. So we were very outnumbered out there," Pennel recalled.

The 6-foot-4-inch, 330 pounder took a winding route back to Kansas City.

After high school, he played at three different colleges, the final one being tiny Colorado State-Pueblo, a Division II school. But he wasn't tiny and that frame was too hard to ignore. So he latched on with Green Bay first in the NFL, playing four playoff games for the Packers.

After that came two seasons with the Jets and a stint with the Patriots this season before joining the Chiefs just before a game with familiar faces at Green Bay.

"I'm confident in my abilities and everything that's happening on the field, I'm just letting it fly," Pennel said about his time with the Chiefs.

After a sack against the Chargers in Mexico, Pennel's snap count and impact has increased. Against the Chargers in Arrowhead - Kansas City's last game - Pennel finished with six tackles, an eye-popping number for a defensive tackle.

He now heads into the Divisional Round game against the Texans as a big piece of the Chiefs' defense.

"Every game is a great opportunity," Pennel said. "It doesn't matter if it's regular season, preseason or playoffs. I appreciate every minute."