KANSAS CITY, Mo. (WDAF) — It’s been a whirlwind 2023 for Travis Kelce.
After the Kansas City Chiefs won their second Super Bowl in four years that featured the Kelce family in the lead-up, Travis spent almost the entire offseason building his brand.
That included a lot of commercials and attention with his brother Jason and his mom Donna, his own “Saturday Night Live” hosting gig, and a Vanity Fair profile that explained how he’s setting himself up for life after football.
His offseason also featured a seemingly failed attempt at courting pop star Taylor Swift at her The Eras Tour show.
That attempt turned out to not be a failure since she returned to Arrowhead Stadium for a Chiefs win against the Chicago Bears after headlining two sold-out concert dates in July.
The duo were even seen walking out together after the game, and reports of their Sunday night in Kansas City ruled headlines afterward. Then Swift showed up for the Chiefs’ win over the New York Jets this past Sunday, and the lore continued into this week.
When Kelce spoke to local media for the first time since training camp, one day after his 34th birthday, he sounded similar to how he always sounds on his “New Heights” podcast and other media interviews: composed, reflective but, even more so this time around, gracious.
“As all the attention comes, it feels like you know, I was on top of the world after the Super Bowl and right now even even more on top of the world so it’s fun,” he said Friday afternoon.
“Everybody is having fun with it, you know, whether I think they’re overdoing it or not, you know, I’d know I brought this to myself or I’ve been fortunate enough to have fun with it, you know, and that’s, that’s where all that really matters is that it’s not pissing anybody off [in the Chiefs facility] at least.
“So I’m having fun with it. And you know, I think that like I said earlier, I’ve been pretty good at just compartmentalizing and making sure that my focus is always about you know, winning the game and, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.”
What Kelce has quickly learned by dating a popstar with a multi-million dollar tour and with a quarter of a billion person following, the microscope is on her always.
While he gets attention from the sports community for his Hall of Fame career, it seems minuscule when paparazzi follow him to the Chiefs practice facility.
“We’re learning with the paparazzi just taking photos from from all over the place but at the same time, it comes with it. You got a lot of people that care about Taylor and for good reason,” Kelce said.
“So it’s, um, you know, just gotta keep living and learning and enjoying the moments and at the end of the day, you know, I’ve always been pretty good about compartmentalizing and being able to stay focused in this building. So I just keep rolling with that, man.”
The Chiefs are 3-1 this season going into a road trip to Minnesota to face the Vikings. The one loss came when Kelce injured his knee on the Tuesday before the team’s Thursday night season opener against the Detroit Lions.
“The toughest part for me was to just get back in the groove, you know, with a knee injury and everything going into that week or going coming out of the Lions week in Week 1,” he said.
“Some things that have popped up that just make you stay on top of it.
“I think everybody gets to this point in their career if they’re fortunate enough to get to year 11 in their career. You know, you definitely got to start to hone in on things even more and, and just, you know, just make sure that you’re available. You know, make sure that you’re doing everything you can to make yourself available and yeah, that’s always been the mindset for sure.”
Kelce’s first game back in Week 2 against the Jacksonville Jaguars saw him struggle on the field, and his body language showed that throughout the game. After one play, he received a penalty for taking his helmet off too early. He still managed a touchdown with 26 yards on four catches.
His second TD came when Swift was in his family’s box suite with his mother. Kelce is second in receiving yards for the Chiefs with 155 receiving yards and two TDs.
His improved play is needed with a usual prolific offensive unit that has only averaged two touchdowns per game outside of the Bears win.
“There’s been that aspect and then on top of that, as a whole as a unit, just staying on the page for four quarters sustained on the stand, you know, together for four quarters putting it all together as an offense specifically and just non stop trying to get better, man. That’s always been the goal,” he said.
While Kelce and superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes are usually in sync since they’ve been together for six years, they haven’t had the best chemistry this season.
“We’re still learning. We’re still trying to figure things out and trying to make the best decision. You know, it’s one thing when, when it goes right and then you want to do something based off of what you just did, knowing that the defense saw it right,” Kelce said.
“So it’s just nonstop playing chess with the guys across from you and you just got to make sure you’re you’re on the same page and you’re not putting the team in a tough spot or putting Pat in a tough spot like it did last week a few times.”
When a media member told Kelce he hates to call him 34, Kelce responded back with a simple “Why you hate to say that” which was met with laughter throughout the room.
“I’m very fortunate to get to 34, man, and to be able to do what I love, man,” he said.
“I got a lot of shoutouts from family, friends, a lot of people reaching out yesterday. Chiefs Kingdom always shows love and it’s an appreciating day. You know, it’s as much as everybody wants to make it about me, I just see how much how much family and friends that I have around me and I you know, it’s always a beautiful thing.”
A man who has embraced learning lessons in life is embracing growing older in a sport that most times will not let athletes age with grace. Kelce is looking to buck that trend.
“A lot of my home games, I have a lot of family and friends come in town. And you know, that’s almost like a birthday every single week. You know, especially when we get a win because I think it’s a 20-person suite,” he said.
“So you got at least 20 people coming in to see you specifically play, you know, the game you’ve been playing since you were a kid. There’s a bit of a birthday feel to that when you get the family and friends around.”
“I’m always reflecting on how appreciative I am of you know, the people around me knowing. I grew up with a great community. I grew up with a great group of friends that I’m still close with and on top of that, we’ve grabbed a lot of good ones along the way.”