Charcandrick West was at his home last week in Dallas, Texas, watching Ocean’s 8 with his girlfriend when his phone rang.
It was his agent.
“He was like, ‘Are you busy this weekend? You want to back to Kansas City?’” West recalled of that conversation, which led him to hop on a plane and head towards the city that he had called home for the previous four years of his life.
“When I got that call—to see that 913, 816 number, it was a blessing,” West added.
After signing as an undrafted free agent out of Abilene Christian following the 2014 NFL Draft, West worked his way up from the practice squad to the team’s active roster—ultimately appearing in 49 games (with 11 starts) for the Chiefs over the past four years.
During that time, West carried the ball 266 times for 999 yards with seven touchdowns—adding 75 receptions for 552 yards with five touchdowns in the receiving game as well.
“He brings energy at all times, you will never see him not smiling,” quarterback Patrick Mahomes explained of West. “He’s a great guy, but also, he’s a great player. He knows this offense really, really well, so you’ll have trust with him day one if he needs to be in there because he knows this offense, he knows what we need to do.”
West was released by the Chiefs at the end of the preseason, and despite having several workouts with various NFL teams throughout the past few months, hadn’t yet gotten another opportunity to join a team this season.
“He has kept himself in really good shape,” Chiefs’ coach Andy Reid explained. “He hasn’t been in a game for a while, but there is also the football-shape part of it. He understands. He has been around long enough to know how to go about it and what would be ahead of him if he had an opportunity to play.”
Over the past couple of seasons, West had carved out a niche as a quality third-down back—always showing a willingness to stick his nose in there and block in pass protection.
“It didn’t hurt,” Reid explained of how much West’s familiarity had to do with the signing. “You are looking at a good football player that understands our protections and the runs and so on. That was a big part of it.”
It’s a huge boost for the offense in that it’s difficult to pick up a running back off the street in Week 13 that’s familiar with the system and can step in and play if needed, and the coaches know what he can do as well.
Back in 2015 after Jamaal Charles went down with a season-ending knee injury early in the year, West stepped in and carried the load for the Chiefs’ offense—amassing 848 total yards from scrimmage with five touchdowns.
That put his name on the map, but three years later, he was unemployed.
West said the past few months have tested his character a little bit—admitting that it was frustrating to not have an opportunity with a team, and also having to manage his day-to-day workout routine on his own.
“When I’d get up, I’d take my dogs out and spend a little time with them, then I’d go on a jog—take off running until I couldn’t run anymore,” West explained. “Then I’d go to the weight room, go home and check on my dogs again, then I’d go back to do some more running.
“That’s been my day. I mean, I haven’t had much to do but workout.”
And West has been working out.
“I’m always going to be in shape,” he laughed. “I’d be an idiot to not be in shape during a time like this.”
Despite the challenges and frustrations, West never lost his positive outlook.
“It was hard, but you just keep working out, keep working out,” he noted. “I wasn’t getting the results I wanted, but I bet there are worse things in life than people telling me ‘No,’ or that I can’t do this or do that (in playing football).
“I’m still standing here, so it’s all just motivation to me.”
The fact that he walked in the locker room and knew everybody, knew the schedule right away and fell right back into his same routine with his “brothers,” brought a smile to his face when asked about how it felt to be back.
“It’s like coming home—like I went on a little vacation and can now come back to all my brothers, and to Chiefs Kingdom,” he said. “The way they welcomed me back, it’s really an honor.”
And as far as expectations or a role for him moving forward, West gave a very West-like answer.
“Anything they need me to do—whether it’s a smile, a touchdown, a first down, a kickoff return, or kickoff (coverage), I’m just happy to be here.”