Chiefs’ Isiah Pacheco explains why his draft day last season had extra significance

·3 min read
Jesse Newell, KC Star

Chiefs running back Isiah Pacheco said four teams called him on the third day of last year’s NFL Draft: the Carolina Panthers, Atlanta Falcons, Miami Dolphins and Kansas City Chiefs.

The first three times his phone buzzed, Pacheco left his draft party to answer, only to return shaking his head to indicate he hadn’t been selected.

When Chiefs general manager Brett Veach called, however, he delivered a different message: “Isiah, you ready? I’m about to turn this card in.”

“I’m like, ‘The card, what card?’” Pacheco said Thursday with a laugh, referring to the Chiefs’ official draft card. “’I’m ready, though.’”

Pacheco spoke about his draft experience — alongside former Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson — at a USAA-hosted pre-NFL Draft event at Joe’s Kansas City on Thursday afternoon. Pacheco and Johnson held a 45-minute “Chalk Talk” for around 100 KC-area service members before signing autographs and speaking individually to them after the event.

“There’s a lot of Chiefs fans,” Pacheco said after talking in front of the crowd, looking around the room at the many Chiefs jerseys. “A lot of love and support.”

When speaking to the group, Pacheco talked more about his initial draft call with the Chiefs, saying he stuck his phone in his pocket while not knowing Veach had handed his cell phone to coach Andy Reid.

That’s why Reid only hears Pacheco’s family screaming when he first puts the cell phone up to his ear, as was shown later in a video on the Chiefs’ social media accounts.

Pacheco revealed Thursday that his draft process — and eventually getting selected in the seventh round — was “something that I’ll always cherish and remember.”

His journey while growing up in New Jersey through family tragedy, he said, was the reason for that; his older sister, Celeste, and brother, Travoise, both died in their 20s.

“It was something that is very hard for me, because I lost two siblings due to murder during my process of growing up. Coming out of high school, I lost two siblings,” Pacheco said. “So it was very hard for me. I could have chose the easy route, retaliate or done little things. But for me, I stuck to the script and allowed myself to listen to my elders and my parents and my coaches in the community.”

Pacheco also said he shared a special moment after the Chiefs’ 38-35 Super Bowl win over the Philadelphia Eagles in February on the field with his mother, Felicia Cannon. Pacheco said he ran up and down the field after the victory that night to find his parents.

“My mother — a woman that lost your oldest son and your oldest daughter to murder — it’s something tragic,” Pacheco said. “But that’s why I say, we all have a story, and that’s why you have to keep chasing, keep fighting and don’t give up.”

On Sunday, Pacheco was welcomed back to his hometown of Vineland, New Jersey for a parade in his honor. He said he “felt the love and the energy from the crowd” throughout the day.

“And not only that, the kids — you could see the kids’ faces,” Pacheco said. “That’s what I really looked at when I was at the parade.”

When asked where he thought the Chiefs could improve most following their Super Bowl season, Pacheco pointed to this year’s NFL Draft. The three-day event takes place at Union Station from Thursday through Saturday.

“A lot of us rookies played and actually contributed (last season),” Pacheco said. “So this year, I would say this draft class has to have the mindset that their number is going to be called upon, and you have to be ready when your time is to go.”