Charcandrick West's Story Should Resonate With Everyone

West signed a contract extension with the Chiefs on Thursday

It was a little more than a year ago that Kansas City Chiefs running back Charcandrick West was heading into an offseason that would be paramount in establishing the trajectory of his NFL career. 

He'd been signed as an undrafted free agent in 2014 out of the little-known Texas school of Abilene Christian University, and he'd spent the first nine weeks of the 2014 season on the practice squad, biding his time and learning from the franchise's all-time leading rusher, Jamaal Charles, among others.

In this regard, it's important to know West hadn't ever been handed anything on a silver platter.

From growing up in a small town of just 5,000 people in Louisiana, to the relatively unknown program at Abilene Christian, to signing with the Chiefs as an undrafted free agent, to fighting his way onto the practice squad—West had to earn it every step of the way.

It's a story that should resonate with everyone.

If he was going to make his mark on the Chiefs, he was going to have to do it the old fashioned way, through hard work and being ready when an opportunity presented itself.

On November 11, 2014, after nine weeks on the practice squad, West was called up to the 53-man roster, but this time, he wouldn't be playing Concordia College, McMurry University or New Mexico Highlands, as he had the year before at Abilene Christian. This time he'd be playing the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks.

In the six games he appeared in during the 2014 season, West only played 4 offensive snaps.

He first made his mark as a member of Dave Toub's special teams units, highlighted by setting one of the key blocks in De'Anthony Thomas' electrifying 81-yard punt return against the Oakland Raiders that year.

Then after a great offseason in which he was a standout at running back throughout OTAs and training camp, West had put himself in a position to be ready should his name ever be called.

And it wouldn't be long into the 2015 season that West's name would be called.

With the team having dropped their fourth-straight game to move to a disappointing 1-4 to begin the season, the news didn't get any better in learning that their best offensive player, Jamaal Charles, had torn his ACL in that Week 5 loss to the Chicago Bears and would miss the rest of the season.

At that point, West was given the lion's share of the carries moving forward.


He had put in the time, and now he had his opportunity.

In Charles' absence, West finished the season as the team's rushing leader with 160 carries for 634 yards and 4 touchdowns, adding 214 yards receiving and a touchdown through the air as well.

It was his ability to step in and help lead the Chiefs to a franchise-record 11-game winning streak and their first playoff win in 22 years that earned him the contract extension he signed on Thursday.

"I'm just happy to be here," West said after signing his extension. "I want to give thanks to (Chiefs chairman and CEO) Clark Hunt, coach (Andy) Reid and the entire Chiefs organization for having me here.

"I'm just blessed to be playing this game."

It's been a different kind of an offseason for West, who for the first time had to deal with taking some time off to let his body heal after seeing extended action in his second season.

"I had to give myself some time to rest," West explained of the differences between this offseason and a year ago. "Guys like us, we don't want to rest; we want to go right to work because we don't want to feel like we've got someone outworking us."

A look at some of the best photos of Charcandrick West throughout the 2015 season.

Throughout the whole process of getting this deal done, West didn't really think too much about the business side of the game.

"I told them I just want to play football," he said. "I'm not a person out looking for money. That's not what this thing is about. I'm just happy to still be in that same room and the same team with my brothers, man, and that's all I've really been worried about. I want to stay a Chief for life.

"The day that I start playing this game for money is the day that I need to go home. You all see me out there having fun. I still see the game as a game, and I like to have fun. When it starts to become a business like that, that's when stuff starts to go wrong in my eyes."

One thing that hasn't gone wrong is the relationship between West and Charles, who stay in touch on a regular basis.

"I talk to Jamaal almost every day," West said. "He's one of the first people that called me and congratulated me. He told me to keep doing what I'm doing and there's better things to come for all of us."

"That's the thing about this team and especially our running backs room," West added. "We all help each other. It's not just about football that we talk about. We're talking about life situations.

"If I have a problem, I can go to Jamaal. If Jamaal has a problem, he can call me—1, 2, 3 o'clock in the morning, I feel like we all help each other."

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