Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce has told the story numerous times during his nine-year career; on draft night, Chiefs head coach Andy Reid called the Kelces — and wanted to talk to Jason first.
Reid, who had also drafted Jason (during his time with the Eagles), wanted to make sure he would guide his younger brother to professional success. Through nine seasons, it seemed whatever Jason has done has worked.
But there is another aspect of that draft night to know. It also has to do with the Kelce brothers — and the tight end not taken.
“I think it’s always in the back of my mind that not only is it my brother,” explained Kelce this week. “And this is nothing against Kansas [City]; I love Kansas City. I’m so fortunate to be here, man — but they took an opportunity away from me to play with my brother in Philly when they picked Zach Ertz in the draft. It’s just in me to see that, and Zach Ertz has been awesome for them, helped them get a Super Bowl, so it wasn’t the wrong pick.”
Travis and Jason played football together at Cleveland Heights High School and the University of Cincinnati.
“It’s just in my mind. They took that opportunity away. I thought it would be so cool to play at all three levels with my brother, but I’m happy I landed here in Kansas City. I can tell you that much.”
The Eagles wanted to select a tight end early in the draft and did so, taking Ertz in the second round with the 35th overall pick. That meant Kelce could fall to the Chiefs 28 picks later — at No. 63 overall in the third round.
After a rookie season lost to injury in 2013, Kelce put up more than 800 yards in each 2014 and 2015 — and as it stands at this writing, he has around 2,000 more yards than Ertz. Kelce has been named an All-Pro five times; Ertz has never been an All-Pro.
Kelce also enjoys a 1-0 record against the Eagles and his brother (Travis was on the team in 2013 but was inactive), having caught eight passes for 103 yards and a touchdown the last time Kansas City played Philadelphia in 2017. With the brothers being staples of the two teams, the Cleveland Heights crew invaded Arrowhead.
What does Kelce remember about that day?
“Just winning and having all the family and friends up at Arrowhead that came out to see the game,” he said of the 27-20 victory. “We had a few coming from Cleveland that day, and just a lot of family and friends. It was a fun experience to leave out of there with a win. I’m not sure if Jason felt the same way, but it was definitely cool.”
Jason clearly got the last laugh though as he kissed me on the cheek after winning the super bowl that year…— Travis Kelce (@tkelce) September 30, 2021
Being so close in age — Travis is 31 and Jason is 33 — with so much of their lives in common, the brothers share a special bond. Sure, one plays in the AFC and one plays in the NFC, but when one Kelce’s season is over, he becomes the other’s greatest fan.
The Kelce brothers each have had an opportunity to watch the other raise the game’s most prestigious trophy.
“I was in the stands crying in Minnesota when he won his,” said Travis. “It was an unbelievable game between them and the Patriots — back and forth, a lot of emotion, a lot of scoring, which is fun to watch. And yeah. I remember being in the stands and just being happy for him to get to the mountain top, being a walk-on linebacker at the University of Cincinnati and finding his way into All-Pro and just the stardom that he’s had in his career.
“It’s been cool to see him become who he is, and people get attracted to that because he’s a fun guy to be around.”
If the Chiefs are not playing, Travis finds a way to watch the Eagles on Sundays. Travis says it’s hard to turn an Eagles game on and not watch Jason throughout every play.
“I get fired up from just watching him,” said Travis. “Honestly, I learned a little bit here and there about how to attack a guy in terms of leverage and some of the techniques that the old veteran over there has figured out. Also, where his eyes are in terms of how coverage relates and stuff like that in the screen game. He’s second to none when it comes to stuff like that.”
This offseason, it seemed to be a given that the Eagles would trade Ertz, as they already have drafted a potential successor at the position in the up-and-coming Dallas Goedert. Jason bet Ertz on whether he would still be in Philadelphia Week 1 of the NFL season.
Since Ertz was still indeed on the roster, Jason had to dye his hair beach blonde.
Travis loves the new look.
“It looks sweet, man. It looks sweet,” said a smiling Travis. “He’s got like the (Brian) Bosworth swag going right now. It’s like Street Fighter or something, man. It’s pretty sweet. I’m digging it.”
Travis added there were no friendly bets between the brothers on the game Sunday, but he did express a need to get in touch with Jason.
“I still got to call him,” he said. “I got a few people that need tickets.”
The Chiefs travel to the city of brotherly love Sunday at Noon Arrowhead Time — and how fitting, with Cleveland Heights in attendance to take it all in.