In the folkloric story of Travis Kelce’s life and career, one time period stands out. It was the summer of 2010. Kelce had lost his scholarship at Cincinnati after smoking marijuana and failing a drug test. He was living with his older brother, Jason, working for a call center, tasked with asking random people about Obamacare, often enduring scorn from the other end of the phone. At 20 years old, Kelce wondered if his football career was over.
That’s when Kelce, his future hanging in the balance, joined a summer collegiate baseball league. It was a way to stay busy and also a potential Plan B.
As Taylor Swift fans would discover years later while scouring Kelce’s old tweets, there was a time when people in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, viewed baseball as Kelce’s best sport. His father, Ed, loved the game and coached Travis from T-ball on up. And Kelce’s affection for baseball never really faded. Over the years, he has thrown an ill-fated first pitch at a Guardians’ game, played in a celebrity softball contest, stepped in the Chicago Cubs’ batting cages, filmed a video taking hacks with Aaron Judge and attended Game 1 of this year’s World Series.
During that transformative summer of 2010, Kelce joined coach Michael Bricker’s team at Champions Academy in Cincinnati. One evening, former Cincinnati Bearcats baseball coach Brian Cleary ventured to see Kelce — a player he already knew plenty about — in person.
“He was playing right field. As they take in-and-out (warmups) and as he’s playing pregame, it’s the best thrower of a baseball I’ve ever seen, to this day, in my life,” said Cleary, now a scout for the Washington Nationals.
The lost stories of Kelce’s baseball career, resurrected largely thanks to his girlfriend’s most fervent fans, are worthy of a Swiftian refrain:
If one thing had been different
Would everything be different today?
Emeka Egbuka WR - OHIO STATE • JR • 6’1” / 206 LBS
PROJECTED TEAM - Kansas City
PROSPECT RNK - 20th
POSITION RNK - 4th
One thing that can be said about Ohio State’s wide receivers is that they are well-coached and prepared to transition to the NFL. Kansas City needs a player who can be counted on to be in the right place at the right time.
10 - Patrick Mahomes
Kansas City Chiefs · Year 7
2023 stats: 16 games | 67.2 pct | 4,183 pass yds | 7.0 ypa | 27 pass TD | 14 INT | 389 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 5 fumbles
Finally, a receiver made a big play for Mahomes. Rashee Rice’s quick release on a streak down the sideline gave Mahomes a perfect alley to toss the ball through for a big gain, setting up one of Kansas City’s collection of field goals in a second half that helped the Chiefs take control. A one-touchdown day might not impress you, and sure, the Chiefs still have some issues with their other pass catchers, but Mahomes was steady throughout this win and finally enjoyed some of the rewards. It’s better than the nightmarish alternative he endured on Christmas.
Former NFL player and Kansas City Chiefs running back Christian Okoye is standing up for Taylor Swift amid the backlash she is receiving for the team’s recent losses.
Fans have been bashing the pop icon, who is dating Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, accusing her of being a ‘distraction’ at the Chiefs games, but Okoye is saying otherwise.
“She has nothing to do with how the team’s doing right now,” he said, adding, “Taylor Swift is not on the field. Travis is playing like he always plays. … Teams are just doubling up on him now knowing that our receivers are dropping the balls.”
The Kansas City Chiefs have lost four out of their last seven games, and Taylor Swift was in attendance for most (but not all) of them.
The team has not been in sync, and the offensive line needs some work, but fans are placing the blame on the “Love Story” singer instead.
“When you’re doing bad, people have to find excuses and they have to point fingers,” Okoye said, adding, “Especially those who don’t like the situation about Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce.”
Whoopi Goldberg is vying for a meeting after discovering she’s got a genetic link to an NFL legend.
During a recent episode of The View, historian Henry Louis Gates Jr. — who hosts the genealogy show Finding Your Roots, which follows celebrities as they learn more about their ancestry and discover previously unknown connections — brought the co-host’s DNA report, which revealed that she’s related to Travis Kelce predecessor Tony Gonzalez, a former Kansas City Chiefs and Atlanta Falcons tight end, per The Daily Mail.
Gates explained that Goldberg had appeared on a previous iteration of the series in the early aughts called African American Lives, which explored the DNA results of several Black celebrities. However, DNA testing has evolved immensely since then, allowing “more sophisticated tests” to uncover the link between the actress and the athlete.
“You all know about DNA cousins? You have a DNA cousin, dear,” he told Goldberg, adding a dramatic pause for effect before revealing, “Tony Gonzalez is your DNA cousin. How’s that for a Christmas present?”
Every athlete uses their platform for something. Chris Jones is trying his best to leverage his platform or position with the Kansas City Chiefs to get general manager Brett Veach to bring back defensive end Frank Clark before the season is completely over.
Jones has been calling for a potential reunion with Clark on the Chiefs roster for quite some time, and now that Clark is available again on the open market, Clark is back on Twitter hoping to make a connection.
Clark is a free agent once again after being released by the Seattle Seahawks in late December. The Seahawks originally brought him back in October after Clark was let go by the Denver Broncos back in October, and the Seahawks decided they were interested in a reunion themselves. However, Clark played very little in nine games and was ultimately released to give him a last-second chance to find employment.
16. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (UP 1)
Projected Week 18 starters:
LT Wanya Morris
LG Joe Thuney
C Creed Humphrey
RG Trey Smith
RT Jawaan Taylor
Jawaan Taylor played the best game of his season against the Bengals, posting an 88.4 overall grade, which led all right tackles in Week 17.
Although the Chiefs’ offensive line allowed a strip sack, it was one of just six total pressures credited to the unit in the win against Cincinnati. As a result, Kansas City ranked ninth in pass-blocking efficiency this week.
Best player: Joe Thuney
Thuney’s 84.3 pass-blocking grade leads all NFL guards after 17 weeks.
Around the NFL
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — A fire at the $6.9 million home owned by Miami Dolphins receiver Tyreek Hill was started by a child playing with a cigarette lighter in a bedroom, a fire official said Thursday.
“It was an accidental fire,” Davie (Florida) Fire Marshal Robert Taylor told The Associated Press.
Taylor did not provide the age of the child or the amount of damage caused by the fire. He said the investigation is now closed.
Amon-Ra St. Brown wasn’t in the greatest mood after Thursday’s practice as he greeted the media outside of his locker room stall.
Instead, Dallas’ CeeDee Lamb, Tampa Bay’s Mike Evans, Philadelphia’s A.J. Brown and the Los Angeles Rams’ Puka Nacua were the four receivers picked to represent the NFC in the Pro Bowl.
“The receivers that got picked, they’re great players, but I was hot,” St. Brown said.
Last week, Miami Dolphins defensive coordinator Vic Fangio waxed poetic about Lamar Jackson, saying the only player comparable to him was Michael Vick. Then on Sunday, Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens handed the Dolphins a 56-19 whooping, with the MVP-favorite throwing for five touchdown passes.
Now Fangio compared this week’s quarterback opponent to a Hall of Fame legend — and a man Fangio once worked for.
Everything is on the line in Sunday night’s showdown between the Dolphins and Bills, and Fangio believes Buffalo has something truly special in Josh Allen.
“This guy is the new John Elway on steroids,” Fangio said, pausing, “and I don’t mean he’s taking steroids.”
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
Before Thursday’s practice, Chiefs offensive coordinator Matt Nagy and quarterbacks coach David Girardi spoke of the growth they have seen in Mahomes’ mindset, even in an often-frustrating season for the team’s offense.
“The way defenses are playing him,” Girardi observed, “it’s a lot different than what it was in 2018, 2019. and 2020. So, he’s had to adapt a little bit. It’s been a growth thing from him even in prior years, but continuing this year just to see him continue to adapt and take what teams are giving him.”
Nagy saw his quarterback’s adaptability during Sunday’s win against the Bengals in an offensive performance that, while underwhelming, had many fewer mistakes than most of Kansas City’s recent games.
“There’s a few plays where it wasn’t there,” Nagy recalled, “and [Mahomes] took off and ran. Or if there is a play that’s there — and he feels fast in the pocket — now it’s don’t take a bad sack, a coverage sack. Throw the ball away.
“He had two [where] they brought two nickel pressures to the field in a bunch set, and he’s play-actioning and turning around, and there’s two guys in his face right away. Being able to get the ball off and not take an eight-to-ten-yard sack, that’s a smart decision. Third-and-10 plus in the red zone — one of the hardest plays in football — making sure you don’t throw into coverage and make a play that takes points away: a turnover.
Social media to make you think
An absolutely FILTHY Low Red Zone Concept from the Chiefs— Coach Dan Casey (@CoachDanCasey) January 4, 2024
Empty Quads Shallow Trail with a Texas Route from #4 pic.twitter.com/BmvP8yqTgu