Written by Deborah Whitcas

Kansas City Chiefs rookie RB Isiah Pacheco gave a shout- out to his hometown of Vineland, New Jersey last night during the opening ceremony of Super Bowl LVII.

”Vineland! Shout out to the eight, five, six (area code)” said Pacheco. He continued,”All of New Jersey continuously shows support day in and day out. It's a blessing.”

But that’s where his allegiance to where he grew up ended. You see, Vineland is in South Jersey, a suburb of Philadelphia, and deep in Birds fan territory.  As an integral part of Kansas City’s 53-man roster, Pacheco is set to go up against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday evening during Super Bowl LVII.

“I was an Eagles fan growing up in South Jersey watching Coach Reid coaching the Eagles is something that I remember day in and out. But now, here is this moment where Coach Reid is coaching the Chiefs and I'm a part of it..and this is where I'm going to start my journey.”

Pancheco started his football career as a child as a member of Vineland Blitz, a Pop Warner League in New Jersey. He attended Vineland High School where he was a standout starter all four years playing both quarterback and running back. Pancheco was heavily recruited across the country but chose to stay in his home state for college and played for Rutgers University. He put up solid numbers throughout his four-year college career and finished with 563 rushing attempts for 2,442 yards and 18 rushing touchdowns. He also caught 47 passes for 249 yards and one touchdown. Pancheco was selected by the Kansas City Chiefs in the seventh round with the 251st overall pick of the 2022 NFL Draft.

In his NFL debut in week 1 against the Arizona Cardinals, Pacheco scored his first career NFL rushing touchdown on a 3-yard run and recorded his first career start in the Chiefs week seven game against the San Francisco 49ers. In Week 11, a matchup against the Los Angeles Chargers, Pacheco rushed for 107 yards, a career-high which was a factor to him being named the NFL’s all-time leading season scrimmage yards leader for a rookie running back drafted in the seventh round.

“He's a tough guy, a tough player, and he's smart enough to where he can get in there and digest all this garbage we throw at him” said Head Coach Andy Reid of Pancheco. “He goes out and he plays his heart out. But very, very impressed by him as a football player.” he continued.

Pacheco finished the Chiefs regular season with 830 rushing yards and 130 receiving yards alongside 5 touchdowns on the ground. He also returned 29 kickoffs for 597 yards.

Pacheco hopes to make a splash in his first Super Bowl on Sunday, and although he will always have a soft spot for the team he rooted for as a child,  he’s now soaring as a Kansas City Chiefs.