Super Bowls can make household names out of almost anyone—just ask David Tyree—taking no-name players and giving them a global stage upon which they can showcase their talents. In Super Bowl LVIII, the Kansas City Chiefs had a number of players who took advantage and found themselves celebrated in the aftermath of their victory over the San Francisco 49ers.
Patrick Mahomes earned his MVP and Travis Kelce got his accolades. Trent McDuffie and Chris Jones and L'Jarius Sneed were all celebrated, and Mecole Hardman had his redemptive time in the spotlight. All of this is well and good—deservedly so—and we don't mean to take anything away from them.
But what about the unheralded? What about the overlooked? The Chiefs' victory over the 49ers was a true team effort and we wanted to highlight some names who were important yet perhaps ignored. Here's our appreciative thread of players who were overlooked heroes for the Chiefs in Super Bowl LVIII.
Mike Pennel, DL
Mike Pennel is the poster child for a descriptor like "overlooked hero" because he was such a positive force for a defense that swallowed up the ground game of the San Francisco 49ers. He also did so after signing with the Chiefs at mid-season.
Don't forget that Mike Pennel was sitting around as a free agent defensive lineman waiting for some team to sign him for the entire offseason, preseason, and regular season. Somehow Pennel had no suitors following his showing last season as a rotational run-stopper for the Chicago Bears who appeared in all 17 games and started two of them.
Pennel was no stranger to the Chiefs, but he'd also not played for them since the global pandemic was a thing and players were potentially opting out for COVID. When a 32-year-old lineman who can't get work joins a Super Bowl contender, you don't really expect him to earn any real playing time, let alone to play so well that he warrants significant snaps. However, that's what Pennel provided for the Chiefs.
Pennel was an absolute force up front for Kansas City with multiple stops of McCaffrey and company in the trenches and even some disruptive play that got into the opposing backfield. He was the second-highest-graded defender for the Chiefs per Pro Football Focus, and he's been that same valuable performer all through the postseason for Kansas City.
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