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.
“New Heights” with Jason & Travis Kelce | Jukes Original Presented by Wave Sports + Entertainment | You can also listen to the show on Spotify.
1. Travis addressed his first pitch in Cleveland
Nobody is going to razz you like your older brother. So it was no surprise when Jason was ruthless toward Travis when the conversation turned to his less-than-stellar ceremonial first pitch before a recent Cleveland Guardians game.
“He did his best impersonation of Jose Mesa,” said Jason, “and he nailed it!”
Jason was referring to the Cleveland pitcher’s ninth-inning meltdown in Game 7 of the 1997 World Series. In that inning, the Miami Marlins tied the game — and then took the series from Cleveland in extra innings.
Afterward, Mesa’s own teammates suggested that he hadn’t been in the right mindset for the game. One of his most notable critics was teammate Omar Vizquel.
“The eyes of the world were focused on every move we made,” Vizquel wrote in his autobiography. “Unfortunately, Jose’s own eyes were vacant. Completely empty. Nobody home. You could almost see right through him. Not long after I looked into his vacant eyes, he blew the save and the Marlins tied the game.”
In response to his brother’s teasing, Travis cracked up laughing.
“It’s a team game,” he said of Mesa. “He could have won it. You can’t blame it on one guy. We wouldn’t have been there without him, though.”
Then Travis defended his own performance.
“I was never special on the mound,” he noted. “I was never comfortable on the mound. When I played baseball, I was a right fielder.”
Besides... there was someone else upon whom Travis could place the blame: their mother.
“Mom was supposed to throw it!” he said. “If I would have known that I was throwing it the entire time, I would have been on the mound all week — getting my fastball right.
“I have to redeem myself. I have to get back out on that mound. I’ll have to ask Pat Mahomes. He’s the owner of the Royals. I’m going to see if I can get the Royals to give me a chance.”
But Jason wasn’t about to let Travis of the hook. After all, there was still another Kelce parent that could be brought into the conversation: their father.
“Did you talk to the man who taught you how to throw a ball?” he asked Travis.
“No. I couldn’t even look him in the eye.”
Jason bored in.
“You went from winning the Super Bowl — which is every dad’s proudest moment — to just ruining the first thing that he ever taught you in life? How to throw a ball?”
2. Small school guys are the hardest to evaluate in the draft
While previewing next week's NFL Draft from Union Station in Kansas City, Travis said the most difficult players for scouts to evaluate are from the NCAA divisions where which the smaller schools reside: D-II, D-III and so on.
“You’re not going up against the biggest guys,” he explained. “Most of the time, all of the big guys go to the SEC or one of these Power 5 conferences. And I feel like there’s always a question in the air of if their game is going to translate to the NFL.
“Man, it’s fun when it does... you feel like you found a hidden gem — a diamond in the rough.”
3. Sauce Gardner sent Aaron Rodgers a picture of him wearing a cheesehead
Speaking with the Kelces, the cornerback talked about rubbing the Green Bay Packers quarterback’s nose in the Jets’ victory at Lambeau Field last season.
“One of the fans took the cheesehead off the Packers fan and gave it to me — and I was like, ‘Appreciate you,’ recalled Gardner. “Talking about Aaron Rodgers? My first text message to him was a picture of [me in] the cheesehead. I didn’t even say no words, I just sent him a picture and clicked Send.
“He just texted me back like, ‘Why do you have that? LOL’”
Whether or not the Jets and the Packers are able to work out a trade for Rodgers remains to be seen — but Gardner hopes they do.
“I would never expect to be able to have somebody like that on my team,” he noted. “I’m hoping it happens. That would just be great for me and the whole organization.”