Cut twice before, Breiden Fehoko describes ‘emotional’ journey after making Chargers’ 53-man roster


Cutdown Day might be the most challenging day on the NFL calendar, a day where dreams are shattered, leaving hundreds of players with nothing to show for their months of hard work. Having experienced it twice before, Breiden Fehoko knows exactly what that pain feels like, the heartbreak and thudding finality of being called into a coach’s office on the eve of the regular season, knowing the inevitable bad news that’s about to come.

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Undrafted out of LSU, Fehoko didn’t make the Chargers out of training camp in 2021, or the year before, giving him little reason for optimism this time around despite staying on as a member of the team’s practice squad, even getting promoted to the active roster for an eight-game stint late last season. Going in with little in the way of expectations, Fehoko tweeted the following, hours before the Chargers would announce their final, 53-man roster.

After years of clawing, Fehoko’s dream finally became a reality with the Chargers—after cutting him the previous summer—announcing the 25-year-old as part of their opening-week roster. Able to exhale for the first time in his career, Fehoko didn’t take his coronation for granted, acknowledging that his last few years have been an emotional rollercoaster, a harrowing journey to relevance in a demanding sport that pushes its players to physical and mental extremes.

“My mom left me a voicemail. She was tearing up a little bit. My fiancée cried a little bit too this morning,” Fehoko told reporters at Tuesday’s press conference. “It’s just been one of those rides where I’ve always had to battle from the bottom up. I’ve had to grind for everything I’ve got. But I wouldn’t want it any other way.”

Fehoko’s brother Simi, a second-year receiver for the Cowboys, initially misread his text, believing he’d been cut for a third time. When it finally clicked, Simi broke down in tears. “I texted [my brother] and said, ‘We’re going to be good,’” said Fehoko, a 6’3” defensive tackle from Honolulu. “It’s funny. He read it, he said, ‘Man, you’ll be good. Some team will pick you up.' I said, ‘No, no, no. We’re going to be good.’ He read it wrong. He called me and he was crying.”

Regardless of whether Fehoko blossoms into a star or spends his career as a fringe player forever shuttling between the taxi squad and active status, no one can take away what his family experienced Tuesday, a shared moment of joy and relief after reaching the summit of a mountain that, at times, seemed impossible to climb.

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Featured Image Photo Credit: Katelyn Mulcahy, Getty Images