Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce and his older brother — Philadelphia Eagles center Jason Kelce — launched their new podcast “New Heights.” The title is an homage to the Cleveland Heights, Ohio neighborhood in which they grew up. New episodes drop each Wednesday. We will extract the best Chiefs-related highlights from each podcast and discuss them here.
Let’s talk about Episode 5.
1. Paul Rudd reminisced about Super Bowl LIV
One of the best parts of New Heights is that Jason and Travis are not seasoned media personalities. Instead, they’re just a couple of guys — who happen to be some of the best to ever play their positions.
So it was a lot of fun when actor (and Kansas City native) Paul Rudd came on the show to surprise Travis for his 33rd birthday.
Jason set it up. telling Travis, “You don’t know this, but the New Heights team has decided to celebrate [your birthday] by bringing on our first guest. And boy... is it a doozie!”
Caught off guard, Travis asked, “Is this real?”
“Yes, it’s real,” replied Jason — before going into a lengthy introduction for the “Ant Man” actor
From the moment Rudd showed up on the screen, it was clear that he was just as stoked to be on the podcast as they are to have him as a guest. And that’s part of the magic of whole thing: there is something pure (and utterly enjoyable) about watching three grown men fanboy over each other. It’s so... relatable.
Jason asked Rudd about his favorite Chiefs memory. With no hesitation at all, Rudd said that without question, it is Kansas City’s 31-20 victory in Super Bowl LIV.
“It’s honestly one of the greatest moments I’ve had in my life,” said the actor, explaining that before then, he and his son would have the same conversation at the end of every season. “I’m with my kid, and we watch every game. We follow everything in the offseason — and every year, we say, ‘The team is great! We have a lot to look forward to! You know, next year we’re going to get ‘em!’
“When you have that conversation so many times, it’s heartbreaking.”
Sound familiar? For years this was what it meant to be a Chiefs fan: years of disappointment — followed by optimism, then followed by more disappointment.
And then Rudd talked about the moment when it all changed.
This is the play that put the Chiefs only a minute away from their first Super Bowl title in 50 years.— RIP Terez A. Paylor (@TerezPaylor) February 3, 2020
Tremendous block by Sherman to secure the edge, tremendous cut and vision by Damien Williams to take it to the house. pic.twitter.com/7paSuKoyVY
“We were at that game and Damien Williams ran around the side — and we were like, ‘Oh my God, there is not enough time!’ I knew it — and my son turned to me and burst into tears, and I hugged him and I wouldn’t let go. I said, ‘We just won the Super Bowl’ — and he’s crying for five minutes. Five minutes.
“[It was] a lifetime of pain and joy coming out. It’s so amazing: when he pulled back he had a bloody nose — just so much emotion, tears couldn’t contain it; everything came out. And then I try to take selfies — like an idiot — and honestly, that moment was one of the greatest moments of my life.”
2. The Chiefs’ revenge game against the Buccaneers
A week later, Kansas City played the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the first time since being steamrolled 31-9 in Super Bowl LV. This time, it was apparent from the first snap that the Chiefs were not going to let history repeat itself.
Travis said that the atmosphere on the Chiefs’ sideline was electric.
“I was talking last week,” he said, “about how we didn’t have the energy on the sideline that we wanted [in Indianapolis].
“I could have been better as a leader in showing that — because that energy is infectious, and the No. 1 way to show energy is to play your tail off, man— go out there and just play as hard as you can on every single play. When you get the ball, run as fast as you can. When you get knocked down, get up as fast as you can. Show that sense of urgency — to remain on the attack at all times.”
And in that grudge match, that's exactly what the Chiefs did.
It was one of those nights where no matter what happened, the Chiefs were not going to lose. It was the sort of performance that will be featured in the video highlights on the day that quarterback Patrick Mahomes is inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.
“You saw a dialed-in Patrick Mahomes,” smiled Kelce, “When he is out there making plays like that, it just means that he is comfortable.”
If that’s the case, then somebody needs to get Mahomes a couch and a few pillows as soon as possible. He needs to be as comfy as possible every week.
3. Travis’ journey to becoming one of history’s greatest tight ends
On Sunday, Travis moved ahead of former Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski to occupy fifth place in the ranking of all-time receiving yards by tight ends.
He said that just being recognized on the list of players alongside him was an honor — regardless of what place he is in. Then he reflected on the road that has brought him to this moment.
“It takes me back to when I was in college — and nobody knew that guy,” he recalled, speaking in the third person. “He was a quarterback who moved to tight end because he didn’t take football seriously.
“I was nothing in terms of on anyone’s radar as far as the NFL.
“It was all a dream and nothing but a fantasy... nobody even knew who I was... it was just me dreaming and trying to figure out how to get to that point — and to be honest, it started with just eliminating all of the distractions in my life.”
He described being kicked off the Cincinnati Bearcats after failing a drug test for marijuana — and had to earn his way back on the team by switching from quarterback to tight end. He said it was a move that he made a conscious choice to embrace.
He recalled how — early in his college career — would go out to bars and attend parties. He really wasn’t as dedicated to the game as he needed to be. He said it was an endless series of parties — one after another — so he had to make the decision to get off the ride and completely refocus himself.
Can you even imagine where the Chiefs would be today if Travis Kelce had crashed and burned coming out of college — and was never drafted into the NFL?
It’s a part of the multiverse I have no interest in visiting.