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Chiefs’ Travis Kelce says he’s a better leader this time around

On Thursday, Kansas City’s star tight end admitted he wasn’t at his best in Super Bowl LV.

Syndication: Arizona Republic Joe Rondone/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK

Thursday morning, Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce stepped up to the podium for his final press conference before the lights come on and Super Bowl LVII gets underway against the Philadelphia Eagles.

This is the third time in the last four seasons the team has made it to the championship game — and the 31-9 Super Bowl LV loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers still hurts.

“I don’t even like to revisit that one,” said Kelce. “I’ll tell you what: that wasn’t a prideful moment in my life. But I’ll tell you what: it’s good wisdom to have.”

Kelce says that even now, he doesn't think he did his part.

“I don’t think that I stepped up to the plate as much as I should have in that game,“ he said. “And that’s where it really burns me.”

While Kansas City did lose that game by a lot, it’s unfair to say that the loss should be on Kelce’s shoulders. On a night where nothing seemed to go the right way, Kelce finished the game with 10 receptions on 15 targets for 133 yards. Moreover, he never gave up. You don’t even need to understand the language to see this is true.

But whether Klece is justified in shouldering the blame s a moot point. One of leadership’s important aspects is accountability — and Kelce has that in spades.

“I’m just focusing on myself,” he said, “to be able to be the best leader that I can [and] the best teammate that I can — come game day. And not put my team in a position like I did the last time we were in the Super Bowl.”

Regardless of what the box score says, Kelce believes there is always more he can do.

“Through every single game,” he explained, “you’re going to have those ups and downs. And unfortunately, we had a lot of challenges early on [in Super Bowl LV]. I don’t think I handled it the best — as a leader — in terms of stepping up to the plate, helping control the mindset, making a big-time play, to spark some energy — to spark that momentum.

“There were a few plays early on there that I just didn’t feel like I did my job. And then on the sideline — in terms of the energy and the motive and the demeanor of the team — that’s where I really think I could have helped out as well.”

For Kansas City fans, the lasting mental image of Super Bowl LV will always be Patrick Mahomes scrambling for his life — and throwing the ball from a horizontal position.

And Kelce is determined to keep history from repeating itself.

“That [Philadelphia] defensive line is arguably the best in the game this year — and a big reason why they’re here in the Super Bowl,” observed the tight end. “It’s going to be a big task.

“But I know our offensive line — everybody that’s in the run game, in the pass game, in terms of having to deal with the front and protecting Pat — we’re all pretty locked in on the task at hand and we know it’s going to be a challenge. We know they have some real dogs up front — and even if they get to Pat once or twice, man, we’ve got to find a way to still move the ball downfield and have success.”

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