- Travis Kelce revived his career at Cincinnati thanks to his brother.
- He’ll be playing against Jason Kelce in the Super Bowl.
Travis Kelce’s hope of a football career was beginning to dissipate.
Kelce was kicked off the University of Cincinnati football team for violating team rules. Jason Kelce, Travis’ brother and a standout offensive lineman for the team, allowed him to live with him and even provided Travis’ food.
Travis Kelce tried other ventures. He played in a summer baseball league, but he realized that wouldn’t prove to be fruitful either.
“I had to find a Plan B real quick,” Travis Kelce said.
Jason Kelce pleaded with his coaches to give his brother another chance. Eventually, he was offered it as long as he lived up to certain standards like making the Dean’s List.
Travis Kelce was willing to refocus. He could find happiness through football as long as he committed himself to the demands intertwined with success. He wasn’t going to let it all go to waste.
Countless people are happy he didn’t.
Travis Kelce will be playing for the Chiefs — and against his brother — in Super Bowl 57. It’s only one milestone in a legendary career. He’s regarded by many as the greatest tight end ever.
And it was largely possible because of his brother, who now stands in the way of him hoisting the Lombardi Trophy once again.
“I would certainly say he’s the best pass-catching tight end that I’ve ever seen play,” Jason Kelce said. “For me, as a biased brother to see how much he’s changed the landscape at that position and taking it to another level and heighten the statistics and what is thought of for what a tight end can do, I think Travis has had a truly remarkable career.”
— NFL (@NFL) September 20, 2022
Travis Kelce’s College Career & NFL Draft
Travis Kelce, now 33 years old, finished his college career at Cincinnati after breaking the school’s single-season record for receiving yards by a tight end with 722. He was then drafted in the third round, 63rd overall, by the Chiefs in 2013.
The day he was drafted, he was eagerly awaiting a call from any number of teams. When his phone finally lit up, he was disappointed. The number was from Missouri, so he worried he was going to the struggling then-St. Louis Rams.
Instead, it was Chiefs head coach Andy Reid, who didn’t mince words.
“Are you going to screw this up? I need a mature guy,” Travis Kelce recalled Reid saying. “I don’t need a guy who’s going to come in and be silly and not be focused on the task at hand.
“I said, ‘I’ll try to be the best tight end you’ve ever had.’”
— NFL (@NFL) December 17, 2021
Jason Kelce, an All-Pro center for the Eagles who played for Reid in Philadelphia, needed to stick up for his brother once again when Reid asked about him. But with further affirmation, the Chiefs added an eventual star.
Travis Kelce is a four-time All-Pro who’s made the Pro Bowl every single season since 2015 and has recorded over 1,000 yards every year since 2016.
“I mean, what else do you say. He’s Travis Kelce,” Eagles linebacker Haason Reddick said. “He’s one of if not the best tight end in the game right now. Truly a great, man. He’s elusive, his route running is crazy. His catch ability and catch radius is crazy.”
Travis Kelce’s instincts are one of his most impressive traits as a player. He’s built an unparalleled understanding with quarterback Patrick Mahomes of what each other is thinking against any defensive alignment.
“It’s been a great run. And it started as the friends we became off the field that we’ve become like brothers now,” Mahomes said. “That relationship we have has kind of translated on the field, and I know what he’s thinking when he’s out there. He’s one of the greatest if not the greatest tight end of all time.
“The way that he works to get himself better and better every year, he’s a special player that hopefully we can keep going for a long time because he’s a guy that you’ll never have another player like him in your career.”
Travis Kelce recognizes how fortunate he is to be playing for a franchise that consistently surrounds him with some of the best talent in the NFL. He also knows Reid has crafted a role for him unique to the rest of the league.
Travis Kelce doesn’t want to let those people down. He may already have a claim to the title of best tight end ever. But that’s not necessarily what he wants to be most known for when he retires.
“I want my legacy to be one of the best teammates that anybody could ever have,” he said. “A guy that was accountable and a guy that loved to have fun every single day and then just was an absolute dog and a baller Sundays, man. That’s all I care about.”
— NFL (@NFL) December 12, 2022
Mahomes pointed out Kelce’s drive and ambition. That’s something Jason Kelce knew about all the way back in college when he insisted his coaches let him back on the team.
Championships have been an obvious motivator for him, but that’s been especially true since the Chiefs lost to the Buccaneers in the Super Bowl two years ago.
Travis Kelce added he wants this one even more than the first.
“I’d give up my soul,” he said. “I need this one, baby.”
Jason Kelce said growing up with his brother was “an enjoyable chaos” with plenty of broken windows in the wake of their wrestling matches as kids.
The Super Bowl will be a new edition of one of those fights. Travis Kelce called it “just another backyard brawl.”
“They’re very unique, very smart, very competitive,” Reid said of the Kelces. “Good guys. Real good human beings.”
Through their upbringing, they hoped the best for each other. That included one day playing in the Super Bowl together.
“I think we more dreamed about being on the same team, but this is pretty good,” Jason Kelce said. “It’s close enough.”
Looking back on where he was just over a decade ago, when he was living with his brother and playing summer baseball, it’s beyond anything Travis Kelce could’ve expected.
He hasn’t let this second chance escape him.
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