Fire. Energy. Passion.
Those are three words that 28-year-old tight end Travis Kelce uses when describing his game mentality. And these definitely aren’t bad traits to have, given the fact that he’s earned himself the reputation of being one of the most dominant tight ends in the NFL — especially over the course of the last two seasons.
And, while at times critics have questioned his maturity, as well as his tendency to surrender to his emotions when tensions run high during a game, Kelce is comfortable with who he is as a player.
“My passion for this game is never going to change,” Kelce said when asked if he has learned to better “reel himself in” when it comes to his often blazing in-game disposition. “You’re always going to see me have that fieriness to me. That’s just the only way I know how to play this game, and I love it for that because I get to release that energy, passion and anger that I have. It’s something that I’m going to have to keep learning with and keep growing with, but I think it’s a little bit more under control than it was in the beginning.”
Now, as Kelce embarks on his sixth year with the Chiefs, he’s evolving that passion, energy and fire to fit his growing leadership role with the team — a role he says that he’s embodied since the moment he solidified a starting spot on the roster.
“Once I was given the starting role, I feel like I kind of jumped into that [leadership] area, but it’s something that every single day you’ve got to bring it,” Kelce said. “This year I’m just gonna keep trying to bring the energy and lead by action more than words, and hopefully, everybody can kind of follow with that or catch on and do it themselves.”
And what better person to have led the team by way of action this year than Kelce, who had the most third-down receptions resulting in first downs last season (15) and finished with 1,038 receiving yards, 83 receptions and 122 pass targets in 2017?
Kelce says that this year, he plans on leading by his actions and examples on the field. During practice, he’s full go. After the workouts, he provides some off-the-field lessons and advice for the young guys as well.
“There’s that aspect of trying to help the guys that are younger get acclimated to the NFL, but at the same time, we haven’t reached the goal that we’ve set for ourselves to get to the Super Bowl and win that thing,” Kelce said about fully preparing and leading the new blood to a championship title.
But, it’s not just about helping make them better.
“It’s nonstop trying to better myself so that I can give the team the best chance to win whenever I’m on the field,” Kelce added.
And while Kelce is dedicated to doing his part, he’s undoubtedly surrounded by the talent necessary to achieve that Super Bowl title in 2018.
The one player everybody is talking about is second-year quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who demonstrated his prowess with a memorable, game-winning drive against the Denver Broncos that lifted the Chiefs to a 24-27 win over in the last 2017 regular season game.
“It gave us all confidence,” Kelce said about Mahomes’ promising performance against Denver. “Obviously the moves we made in the offseason are a testament to that, but I think just him going out there and being comfortable gave everybody the awareness that he can do this and he can do this at this level just like he did in college.”
Mahomes feels just as confident about playing with Kelce, too, a player that he knew of watched throughout his high school and college years — and not just because Kelce was on Mahomes’ fantasy football team at one point either.
“He’s another QB on the field,” Mahomes said about Kelce’s in-game presence and ability. “He really knows his offense, he knows what he needs to get open and he knows what he needs to do to get other people open — I think that’s a really underrated aspect of his game. He knows how to move defenders in order to get other people open and he’s someone I know that will be in the right spot whenever I need him to be.”
Kelce won’t be the only one on the receiving end of Mahomes legendary arm, though.
The dangerous wide receiver duo that is Sammy Watkins and Tyreek Hill will not only add an element to the Chiefs offense, but also help open the field up for him, just as he plans on doing for them, too.
But, they’re not the only ones that Kelce sees posing an offensive threat.
“Pat’s got quite an arsenal to throw to and it’s not just wide receivers up front,” Kelce said. I mean, you wanna talk about Demarcus Robinson making a stride forward, and Chris Conley coming back off injury and looking great. Then you have the running backs, guys like West and obviously Kareem Hunt and Spencer Ware coming off of injury — I mean, we’ve got an offense that we’re excited to do some work with.”