Travis Kelce first gained national fame as Patrick Mahomes’ favorite target for the Super Bowl-winning Kansas City Chiefs. Then he buoyed his notoriety by producing a popular podcast alongside his brother, Jason. And in case you haven’t heard, he has since launched himself into the stratosphere this season by dating Taylor Swift.
To the uninitiated (non-football fans, those who see the Swift-Kelce relationship as a government psyop, etc.), it could be easy to credit his fame and success to others: His championship-caliber teammates, his affable NFL star brother, or the world’s most recognizable pop star.
Even Kelce has pointed to Chiefs coach Andy Reid to explain his uncanny ability to get open — something a 34-year-old such as himself shouldn’t be doing with such ease.
But to listen to Reid, Mahomes, and Kelce’s fellow Chiefs, the All-Pro tight end is much more than Robin to someone else’s Batman. He’s a selfless, hard-working talent, who possesses a deep, nuanced understanding of the game and, most importantly, opposing defenses.
‘He’s got great feel,’ Reid told DailyMail.com at the Super Bowl LVIII Opening Night ahead of Sunday’s game with the San Francisco 49ers. ‘He knows defenses. He’s got great vision.’
Reid says Kelce has ‘great feel’ and ‘relationship with quarterback’
Travis Kelce was all smiles on Super Bowl LVIII Opening Night in Las Vegas on Monday
Although Kelce credits Reid for his success, the Chiefs coach points right back at his tight end
Much like Reid, Kelce is credited with an in-depth understanding of what opposing defenses are trying to do.
So if there’s a seam in a secondary’s zone coverage or an opening created by a blitzing linebacker, Kelce has the freedom to break off his route and head for daylight.
‘He understands the offense,’ Kelce’s backup, Noah Gray, told DailyMail.com. ‘He understands defenses. It’s a combination of his talent, how smart he is, how hard he works.’
And since he seemingly shares a brain with Mahomes, the mishaps have been kept to a minimum.
‘He has a great relationship with the quarterback,’ Reid said. ‘They just kind of have that feel for each other. And that’s special that I’m able to be a part of that.’
Kelce’s numbers already rank among the greats at his position.
He’s fourth in receptions (907) and receiving yards (11,328) at the position, trailing only Chiefs legend Tony Gonzalez (1,325 catches/15,127 yards), as well as fellow retirees Jason Witten (1,228/13,046) and Antonio Gates (955/11,841).
Of course, that trio failed to win a single Super Bowl among them, while Kelce has a pair to his name.
And speaking of the postseason, with 11 catches in the AFC Championship win over Baltimore, Kelce surpassed Hall of Fame 49ers wideout Jerry Rice as the all-time leader in playoff receptions (156). What’s more, he did so while primarily being defended by All-Pro safety Kyle Hamilton, considered one of the game’s best.
Patrick Mahomes says Kelce’s relationship hasn’t distracted him from football in the least
Mahomes says when Kelce enters building, ‘it’s all about football’
Obviously Kelce has benefitted from not one, but two Pro Bowl quarterbacks in Mahomes and his predecessor, Alex Smith. But Mahomes credits Kelce as an extraordinary teammate, and not simply the beneficiary of those around him.
Mahomes is also quick to dismiss any suggestion that Kelce has somehow lost focus amid his relationship with Swift.
‘He wants to follow his dreams outside the building,’ Mahomes said Monday night. ‘Obviously he’s in a great relationship now [with Swift] and he embraces that, but when he gets in the building, it’s all about football. It’s all about the brotherhood that we’ve built.
‘And he has that same mindset. He’s a leader. He leads by example. He comes in the building and works his tail off. And when you see a guy who’s a Hall of Famer, and he’s the hardest-working guy in the building, it inspires everybody else. And that’s what I’ve always respect more about Travis than anything.’
And Kelce isn’t just schmoozing with the team’s biggest stars. According to his backup, Gray, the 34-year-old known as Big Yeti is just as affectionate with everyone on the roster.
‘Kelce is the same old dude that loves his teammate and loves the people that care about him,’ concluded Gray, ‘And I don’t think that will ever change.’