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Travis Kelce: ‘I have no reason to stop playing football’

Chiefs fans can breathe a sigh of relief — according to the source, Kelce isn’t going anywhere.

Kansas City Chiefs v Los Angeles Chargers Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images

In mid-November, the Wall Street Journal published an article on Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce. For years (and even in the months prior to the article), the 34-year-old had maintained that he would retire when his body could no longer handle it.

But in the WSJ article — for the first time ever — Kelce did not rule it out, revealing he thinks about calling it quits “more than anyone could ever imagine.” That began making people wonder if this could be it for the future Pro Football Hall of Famer.

Anyway, that was the thought until Thursday afternoon — when Kelce joined local writers at the podium ahead of the team’s Wild Card game against the Miami Dolphins.

“Do you guys think about retirement? Am I the only one in this boat?” said a smiling Kelce. “Is anyone else in this thing? Whoever’s not thinking about stuff down the road, I blame you.”

The media members in attendance began to laugh with Kelce before he provided his serious feelings on the matter.

“I have no reason to stop playing football,” he said. “I love it. We still have success. Come in with the right mindset; I just love the challenge that it gives me every single day to try and be at my best. Like I said, I have no desire to stop anytime soon.”

Sitting down Week 18

Kelce’s words will surely relieve Chiefs fans who were worried his historic career would not continue past this latest postseason run. Kelce finished the season with 984 yards — his lowest output since 2015 — but it is important to note he played only 15 games, missing both Week 1 due to injury and choosing to sit out the final week of the season with nothing for his team to gain in terms of playoff seeding.

By doing so, he said goodbye to his 1,000-yard season streak that had spanned seven seasons.

“At the end of the day, I just didn’t care enough about it,” said Kelce of the record. “I felt like I could get some rest and let the guys go out there and just play the game instead of worrying about getting this old guy 16 yards. [It] just never felt right.”

Adversity in the 2023 season

While everything off the field has seemingly gone Kelce’s way during the 2023 season, it’s fair to say it’s been one of the most trying seasons for the offense since quarterback Patrick Mahomes took over as the starter in 2018.

Kelce once again garnered extra attention from the beginning of the season forward, and the lack of a viable second weapon early on made things more difficult. The tight end was thus forced to find comfort in impacting the game in other ways.

“There’s still ways to impact the game,” started Kelce, “in the run game, being able to be a good blocker, in the pass game, running my routes accordingly to get other guys open if it’s possible.”

Even in what might be considered a “down year” for him, only one other tight end in the NFL — San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle — finished ahead of him in yardage (1,000).

“It’s a long season,” said offensive coordinator Matt Nagy. “Every year’s a little different for [Kelce]. Physically, for where he’s at, it’s been great for him — just to really lock in on him. Make sure that he gets right, he gets healthy. He knows we need him, and we know that we need him.”

Nagy liked that Kelce had the opportunity to rest for a week.

“That part was great, somewhat of a mini-bye — and then mentally, too. You go through the ups and downs, ebbs and flows of the season. He started out like a ball of fire, a ton of numbers, and then it kind of plateaued. But the beautiful thing of all of this is that we’re in the playoffs, we’re division champs, right? So now, it’s one and done, and we know that. What better way to go into the playoffs with those guys on our side, locked in, ton of experience — and they’re ready to go?”

The dynasty-building business

When he was asked about legacy on Thursday, Kelce wanted to be sure that he clarified what kind he wants to leave. For him, it’s about the championships more than any individual accolades.

Entering his ninth AFC playoff tournament on Saturday, he already has two rings and plenty of individual honors. Any thoughts about his immediate (or distant) future can wait until the Chiefs’ season ends.

“That’s the point [of the] offseason — being able to get out there and really find what you love to do,” said Kelce. “Been fortunate to do a few things outside of the sports world that I’ve enjoyed doing like getting on camera. The SNL stuff kind of opened up a new happiness and maybe a new career path for me.

“It’s funny for me to even say that at this point in my career because it’s so much further down the road than it is right now.”

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