Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce and his older brother — Philadelphia Eagles center Jason Kelce — have launched their podcast “New Heights.” The title is an homage to the Cleveland Heights, Ohio neighborhood in which they grew up. New episodes drop each Wednesday.
On January 16, they dropped a special interview with the former all-pro tight end, Lombardi Denter and USAA hopeful Rob Gronkowski.
You can also listen to the show on Spotify.
There are few personalities in the NFL bigger than the Kansas City Chiefs Travis Kelce— but if there is one person who can go toe-to-toe with the Chiefs’ tight end, it’s former New England Patriots (and Tampa Bay Buccaneers) tight end Rob Gronkowski — whom Travis affectionately calls, “Bob.”
Whether he’s chugging beers at one of his Gronk Beach music festivals, power spiking a football after a touchdown or attempting a $10 million dollar field goal live on television — which will happen during Super Bowl LVII — Gronkowski does everything with the intensity turned up to 100.
He also also has a cameo in the upcoming movie “80 for Brady,” a comedy that he described during the interview as being about “a bunch of GILFs who sneak into the locker room and shoot their shot.”
So while it seems like Gronkowski is thoroughly enjoying his retirement, he also teased a few times about the possibility of returning to football. This prompted Jason to pose a question that could set the Internet on fire.
“If Tampa wins this week,” he asked, “is there a chance I see you next week on the field?”
“What’s so great about it,” replied Gronk, “is that I’m a total free agent. I don’t even have to go back to the Buccaneers.”
“He could be a Chief?” exclaimed Travis.
But Gronkowski quickly dashed Travis’ dream, saying that he was “just kidding,” adding that there is no way he is coming out of retirement this year.
Gronkowski — a Buffalo native — then revealed that since retiring, he has become a fan of his boyhood team: the Buffalo Bills.
“There is still time to sign with them,” said Jason, seeing an opportunity to get under his brother’s skin.
But Travis took it in stride.
“No, just kick the field goal,” he said. “They got a good tight end, dude.”
Gronkowski also related a story about the day he was drafted. He had been pegged as a potential first-round pick, so he was understandably disappointed when his name wasn’t called before the opening round concluded.
New England took Gronkowski in the second round with the 42nd pick. He said he was so excited to be drafted that he chest-bumped NFL commissioner Roger Goodell as he celebrated on stage.
Then his phone rang. It was Patriots head coach Bill Belichick’s assistant, who had instructions from his new head coach.
“‘Can you get off camera?’” recalled Gronkowski of the call. “‘Off the stage? We don’t want to see any more celebrating.’”
The look on Jason’s face was priceless
“I guess they don’t like celebrating,” he remarked. “Your first introduction to ‘The Patriot Way.’”
Then the brothers asked Gronkowski about playing under under Belichick.
“Walk in and show up with zero f**king excuses,” he said. “And don’t f**k up in the mental game. Don’t cause a scene. Don’t egg anything on.”
Then the brothers turned to the longtime comparisons between Travis and Gronkowski.
“With Travis having his first 1,000-yard season and all of that — and I’m having 1,000 yards — he’s coming on the scene because I was like two years ahead,” said Gronkowski of Travis’ first big season. “Obviously you’re young. You got that juice. And I’m like, ‘This mofo — this guy — ain’t taking my spot.’ [Travis] amped up my game for sure!
“At that age, you care, man. You’re like, ‘This guy ain’t taking my spot.’ And then he does it again — and I’m like, ‘This guy is for real, though.’ And it’s pissing me off! I’m like, ‘This guy is trying to take my No. 1 spot.’
“And then over the last [few seasons], you did it again. And I’m like, ‘Travis is the real deal; he’s the real deal for sure.’ He’s putting up 1,000 yards every year — and touchdowns. He’s leading the offense.
“You definitely helped my game big-time — because without that push, you’re never going to get better. And then that one year, you broke the receiving yard record — like 1300 yards — and you got like 1400 yards. And [George] Kittle did it, too.”
“Kittle smoked me like 45 minutes later,” laughed Travis.
“And I was like, ‘These mother f**kers! I got to get back out on the field,’” continued Gronkowski. “When you’re that age, you got that thrill in you and all of that. It definitely was a challenge to me — and without that challenge, I don’t think I would be as developed as I [was].”
Later, Travis revealed that Gronkowski had inspired him to be the player has become.
“The year that I actually switched to tight end,” recalled Travis, “It was the year you took the f**king league by storm — and I was like, ‘I want to be that f**king guy, because he looks like he is having a f**k-ton of fun. He’s owning everybody in the National Football League.’ And I’ve been chasing your greatness ever since.”
Gronkowski said that a former Chiefs player had inspired him.
“I loved Tony Gonzalez growing up,” said Gronkowski “[for] just the way he played the game. He was the model as a tight end.”
Then Gronkowski mentioned a New York Giants player whose influence might be considered more on-brand for him.
“But there was one guy — and I was like, ‘That’s exactly who I want to be.’ You can ask my brother. He was crazy. He was partying all the time, just giving ‘no cares’: Jeremy Shockey.”
That makes a lot of sense. If scientists ran a DNA test on Gronkowski’s playing style, it would probably come back about 49% Gonzalez, 49% Shockey and 2% Bald Eagle.