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The road less traveled: Mike Pennel's journey from CSU-Pueblo to Super Bowl LIV

Posted at 11:33 PM, Jan 30, 2020

PUEBLO — For the second year in a row, the CSU-Pueblo Thunderwolves will have a former player playing in the Super Bowl.

Mike Pennel, who played in Pueblo in 2013, has taken the road less traveled in his football career.

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

The Chiefs defensive lineman began his collegiate football career at Scottsdale junior college in Arizona. From there, the Aurora native enrolled at Arizona State, but only played five games for the Sun Devils after being indefinitely suspended for violating team rules.

After his time in Tempe, Pennel landed in Pueblo to play for the Thunderwolves.

"I remember the first day I saw him I said that was the biggest human being I have ever been around," explained CSU-Pueblo head football coach John Wristen. "Then I see him do a back flip and I go 'wow this kid is pretty special.' And then the third day, when we were in practice, I had to stop practice because he destroyed the whole practice and made sure he was out. He is just a tremendous athlete."

In 2014, Pennel's time in the Steel City came to an end. The Colorado kid became a journeyman of sorts joining the Packers as an undrafted free agent. He then spent time with the Jets and the Patriots until late last year where he signed with Kansas City, a team he grew up watching after being born in Topeka, Kansas.

"I mean it's a dream everyday, but I think it's more the acceptance of the locker room," Pennel said. "My family being right down the street, it's a dream come true."

So Pennel's road to the Super Bowl has been the one last traveled, but it has paid in dividends in the end.

"As long as there's a win in the column at the end of the game, that's it," he said.