Last year at this moment, Juan Thornhill was just watching and waiting. Despite helping his fellow Kansas City Chiefs teammates get through the regular season successfully, a torn ACL in Week 17 kept him from being able to play in the postseason. Thus, the rookie safety (at the time) was forced to stay on the sidelines as an observer while his teammates pulled off three consecutive heroic comebacks to win the team’s first Super Bowl in 50 years.
Fast forward 12 months and it’s clear that Thornhill isn’t taking this opportunity lightly. He’s worked hard to not only come back healthy and ready from such a devastating injury, but he once again helped the team push through the gauntlet of a regular season to return to the sport’s biggest game once again—a rare feat in the NFL’s age of parity.
This Sunday, Thornhill will finally get his chance to take the field for a chance to earn the Lombardi Trophy against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and he’s relishing the opportunity in front of him. On Tuesday, Thornhill spoke to the media during Super Bowl week and detailed what it was like to suffer the injury when he did last season.
"“It means a lot. I didn’t have a chance to play last year and it hurt me a lot to be at the game but not really able to be on the field with my team. This whole offseason in my mind, I was thinking that we would get back to the Super Bowl. There was no other option. So it definitely means a whole lot to me just being able to actually step out there and play in the Super Bowl. This is your childhood dream to go out there and play in one of the biggest games ever. I’m excited.”"
Despite the serious injury, Thornhill did the requisite offseason work in recovery to be able to be ready in Week 1 for the Chiefs this season. It’s taken considerable time for him to work his way back to his old self on the field, and there was a stretch at midseason when the Chiefs pulled back the reins a bit on his snaps. However, in this year’s postseason run, Thornhill has looked as physical as ever with excellent instincts, agility, and tackling.
Juan Thornhill is ready to contribute after missing last year’s Super Bowl.
The Chiefs are going to need him if they are to repeat as Super Bowl champs if they’re going to limit the Bucs offense, especially with targets like Rob Gronkowski, Chris Godwin and Mike Evans,. Fortunately he sounds up for the task as the Chiefs trio of safeties are all capable of making a big play, a group that includes Tyrann Mathieu and Dan Sorensen,.
Thornhill had 41 tackles, 3 passes deflected and 1 interception in 8 starts and 16 games overall this season for the Chiefs.