Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce and his older brother — Philadelphia Eagles center Jason Kelce — host a weekly podcast called "New Heights." The title is an homage to the Cleveland Heights, Ohio, neighborhood in which they grew up.
In the latest episode, the Kelce brothers talk about their Week 4 games, where the Chiefs narrowly escaped with an ugly-but-hard-fought victory over the New York Jets, highlighting the pivotal holding penalty against Sauce Gardner late in the second half.
"New Heights" with Jason & Travis Kelce | Jukes Original Presented by Wave Sports + Entertainment | You can also listen to the show on Spotify.
1. Aaron Rodgers and the comeback
Travis recounted a moment he shared with injured Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers before last Sunday night's game in the Meadowlands, saying that he just wanted Rodgers to know that everyone was excited about what he was going to do in New York and gutted that he couldn't be out there competing against them due to his torn Achilles.
“Watching ‘Hard Knocks,’ it was electric to see what Aaron Rodgers was going to do with that team. Not to say that they’re not gonna be great because he’s not there, but I think that having Aaron there was going to be that much more entertaining for someone who is a fan of the game like I am. You just hate to see the great ones go down with injury. I just went up to him and told him we’re all hurting for him and hopefully he gets healthy quick…
Rodgers has previously said that it's his goal to spend the entire regular season rehabbing his injury and return in time to help the Jets in the playoffs.
Aaron Rodgers is shooting for the ‘miracle’ of the playing again this season but he needs the #Jets to be in the playoff race.— Al Iannazzone (@Al_Iannazzone) October 3, 2023
“I’d like us to be alive and winning for that to even be in the conversation.” https://t.co/CmN3cJIwr3
That is an ambitious timeline for a man in his 20s, let alone a guy who is 40. Travis said that Rodgers sounded like he was determined to find a way to get back before the end of the season.
I think he’s fully on board with getting back, if they can find a way to make the playoffs, I’m pretty sure he’s fully on board with getting back by then.
2. Sauce Gardner's defensive holding call
With 4:29 left in the fourth quarter, the Chiefs were facing a crucial third-and-20, and quarterback Patrick Mahomes dropped back to pass and threw an interception intended for wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling. The refs tossed a flag on the play and determined that, before the ball was thrown, Jets star cornerback Sauce Gardner held Valdes-Scantling — thus giving the Chiefs a new set of downs.
Jets fans and Gardner himself have taken to social media since to cry foul, claiming that it was a bad call and that the refs were just trying to help the Chiefs.
Since we are commenting, let me say it from my perspective For starters, this was around 5-7 yds from the LOS... not 15. 2. I extended my arms and he made the choice to lean on me with all of his weight which caused my hand to slide to the back of his pad; not his neck I did… https://t.co/tVbV6kfKTI pic.twitter.com/eA15AbfWTK— SAUCE GARDNER (@iamSauceGardner) October 2, 2023
Travis wasn't buying it.
"I've been a part of late calls my entire life," he said. "I've been a part of calls where it feels like the play is over and I still get called for it."
In Travis' mind, it was a clear and blatant hold.
"If you see strain and somebody getting restricted with the guy's arm across his chest and somebody holding his shoulder pads, it doesn't matter if it's bang-bang or not. If you give the ref that — you can't give the ref that — you can't put it in his hands."
Get used to this. As long as the Chiefs keep on beating nearly every team they go up against, opposing fan bases are going to look for someone to point the finger at.
3. Travis thinks the NFL 'needs to calm down'
Since Travis has been linked to Taylor Swift, the NFL and its social media partners have been salivating at the possibility of Swifties tuning into football games for the first time. It's been so much so that Jason asked Travis if, in his mind, it's become a little too much.
At some point this is just a little ridiculous… pic.twitter.com/MeAtursXf2— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) October 2, 2023
While Travis said that he thinks it's all in good fun, he admitted that the league has been a little heavy-handed with its coverage of his private life.
I think it’s fun when they show who all is at the game,” he said. “I think it brings a little more to the atmosphere, it brings a little more to what you’re watching. But at the same time, I think — they’re overdoing it a little bit, especially my situation. I think they’re just trying to have fun with it.
The issue the NFL faces is that the legions of new people who are suddenly more interested in football are only doing so because they love Taylor Swift, and the league knows this. If they suddenly cut out all Swift coverage, they risk the possibility of her millions of fans tuning back out again.