Travis Kelce: Everything We Know About The NFL Tight End

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Travis Kelce is undoubtedly making headlines off the field, but this football star has a lot of backstory to tell beyond Taylor Swift. After signing in 2020 for a $57 million contract extension, Kelce is one of the highest-paid tight ends in the NFL (according to The Ringer). Even better than that, Kelce was ranked as the number one tight end in the NFL for the 2023 season by Pro Football Network. And, with two Super Bowl wins under his belt so far, he's well on his way to securing his status in the NFL as one of the greats. 

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While Kelce is most known for what he's done on the field, there's still a lot more to know about the Ohio native off the field. Just from a quick trip to his team's website, you could find out that Kelce attended the University of Cincinnati and was the 63rd pick in the 2013 NFL draft by the Kansas City Chiefs. However, you might not know some of these other fun facts about the NFL superstar. 

Kelce was on a reality TV dating show

Before he started dating Kayla Nicole, Travis Kelce was the bachelor in his very own reality TV dating show. In 2016, the tight end had his very own "The Bachelor"-like competition named "Catching Kelce" for E!. According to TV Insider, the show differed from "The Bachelor" in a couple of ways. It wasn't as grand of a spectacle, but what it missed in quality it more than made up for in quantity. 50 different women (one from every state in the U.S.) tried to catch the tight end, and only one would be left standing in the end zone to spike the ball.

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While Kelce did end up choosing Maya Benberry in the series finale, the two ultimately went their separate ways in 2017. He didn't find love, but he did give his coach plenty of ammo for future jabs. According to The Bleacher Report, the head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs, Andy Reid, even named a play after Kelce's dating show: "Catching Kelce." Only this time, Kelce did the catching and even scored a touchdown.

Kelce is not a hot sauce guy

Over the years, many celebrities have accepted the challenge of guesting on the First We Feast show, "Hot Ones." Actors, like Paul Rudd and Daniel Radcliffe, have been interviewed by host, Sean Evans, while eating wings that progressively get hotter. In 2016, while promoting "Catching Kelce," the NFL tight end decided to test whether he could handle the sauces. It would prove to be a mistake. 

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Immediately in the interview, Kelce confessed that he is "not a big spicy food guy" (via YouTube). At one point, the footballer even gets dizzy from the heat and has a hard time paying attention to the questions being asked of him. While Kelce suffers, it is an entertaining interview to watch. Some of the most LOL-worthy "Hot Ones" episodes are the ones where the guests can't take the heat, and Kelce was the first to admit that this was a bad idea for him. 

Kelce owns the Marty McFly shoes from 'Back to the Future'

Kelce is a self-proclaimed "sneakerhead." He has an impressive collection, which can be seen in the background of his Zoom meetings (via Heavy). Shockingly, his love for sneakers left him almost completely broke. The tight end used most of his paycheck for his rookie year on shoes, according to The Bleacher Report. He confessed in an interview on Shannon Sharpe's YouTube series "Club Shay Shay" that his first big purchase was the Marty McFly shoes from "Back to the Future." 

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In the "Hot Ones" interview, Kelce revealed that he spent around $7500 on the shoes, but they're not just for display. The football player has worn them at least twice and doesn't understand why you would have sneakers if you weren't going to wear them. His sneaker love has also proved to be beneficial. Kelce was included in Sports Illustrated's "Fashionable 50" list in 2018, according to the Kansas City Chiefs. Kelce even admitted in that interview that his favorite item of clothing is his "Nike Air MAG 'Marty McFly' from the movie Back to the Future."

There is a Reuben sandwich named after Kelce

If you're a Kansas City Chiefs fan, you might want to stop by McFadden's in downtown Kansas City. According to Arrowhead Pride, the restaurant has a whole "Kingdom Specials" menu that has items named after Kansas City Chiefs players. Kelce is one of the lucky few to have a sandwich named after him — Kelce's Cincinnati Reuben. The sandwich pays homage to the fact that Kelce went to the University of Cincinnati. Its contents include beef, Swiss cheese, and "loads of sauerkraut."

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If you're wondering if Kelce has tried the Kelce's Cincinnati Reuben; he has. The tight end talked about the sandwich on his "Hot Ones" episode and even tweeted about it in 2014 with a picture with #scrumptious. You can try out Kelce's Cincinnati Reuben for yourself to see if it's as scrumptious as Kelce says, or you can try another one of the Chiefs menu items, like a McGrath's Lumberjack or The "Big Play" Hemingway. 

Kelce actually wanted to be a quarterback

When Kelce started his football career in high school, he was a quarterback. According to Sportscasting, Kelce actually picked the University of Cincinnati over Michigan, Michigan State, and West Virginia because he was told that he would get a chance to play as a quarterback for UC. The other colleges wanted him to play tight end. 

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However, in 2010, Kelce was suspended from the Bearcats for failing a drug test (via USA Today). When he came back to the team, he was forced to play tight end only. That's when his quarterback career ended, but it was for the best. Former UC assistant coach, Mark Elder, said, "It was such a natural fit that we all thought tight end was what he should be doing" (via Cincinnati Enquirer). Now, Kelce is a top tight end in the league. 

Travis Kelce grew up in Ohio

Donna and Ed Kelce got married in the 1970s and decided to settle down and raise their family in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. From most reports, it sounds like Travis and his brother Jason enjoyed their childhood in the state, but their mom Donna Kelce has admitted that raising two rambunctious boys who are less than two years apart in age had its challenges at times.

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Donna once told Kansas City's Fox4 that the two boys definitely spent a lot of time going at one another, and Travis was usually the culprit behind their clashes. As she put it, "Yeah, it's a lot of broken windows, a lot of, you know, crashes, a lot of fighting. They were very, very competitive from a very early age. And Travis was always the one that was the instigator because he wanted his brother's attention."

Travis Kelce played football in college

Both Travis Kelce and his brother Jason attended college in Ohio, where they enrolled in classes at the University of Cincinnati. They each joined the school's football team as well, and Travis has been particularly outspoken about how much he enjoyed playing football for the university.

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In fact, Travis is so grateful for his time at the school that he started an endowment fund in partnership with the UC Athletics Department. The fund is in the amount of $100 million, and it is intended to establish the Sports Psychology and Counseling Department. Travis told local news that his own experiences with mental health as an athlete were his primary motivation for starting the fund, and that there was no better time than the present to do so.

He explained to Fox19, "Being able to have that support system in place is part of the reason why I decided to start this endowment and give back to my alma mater and its athletic department. I'm at a place in my career where I'm able to share my experiences and lend resources to provide the university's student-athletes with the assistance they need to become the best versions of themselves they can be." 

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Travis Kelce's brother also plays in the NFL

As many fans know, Travis Kelce isn't the only member of the family who plays in the NFL. His brother Jason is also in the league, albeit on a different team. The two brothers faced off against one antoher in the 2023 Super Bowl, and their mother Donna Kelce had plenty of thoughts about their showdown ahead of the big game.

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While speaking on "New Heights," a podcast that Travis and Jason run together, Jason joked that his mother supports him more than Travis for one very important reason: grandchildren. He said, "You've said in the past to both of us that you root for me because I've given you grandkids" before he added, "I've always known that you root for Travis. So who do you actually root for?" Donna ultimately declined to answer the question, but not before Travis added his own joke about needing to find a "breeder" to have children with "so that mom can love me again" (via People).

Travis Kelce was in a relationship with influencer Kayla Nicole

Travis Kelce keeps his private life pretty guarded, but for a while it was very clear that he and influencer Kayla Nicole were in a relationship — until it was clear that they weren't. Kelce and Nicole were together on and off for five years, and began their relationship back in 2017. Nicole once admitted that the pair met on Instagram, and that, "He had been following me and insta-flirting for a few months. All double taps and no dm. Soooo after a little liquid courage and a pep talk from @iqueenb (something along the lines of 'WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR') I dm'd him on New Years" (via TMZ).

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Nicole wears a few different hats, and primarily works as an influencer online and an on-air sports journalist. As noted by People, Nicole graduated from Pepperdine University and has presented with ESPN and Barstool Sports.

The two first broke up in 2020, but reunited in the same year. They broke up again in May 2022 amid rumors that Kelce required Nicole to pay half for everything they did, despite their disparate incomes. Both Kelce and Nicole denied the rumor, and Nicole wrote on Twitter, "Not sure where y'all got this nonsense from, but it's absurd and very false."

Travis Kelce has a podcast with his brother

Travis Kelce and his brother Jason Kelce do more than play football — they are also hosts of a podcast called "New Heights." The two launched the podcast in September 2022 and have credited working together with making their relationship as brothers stronger. In February 2023, as reported by NBC Sports, Jason explained the podcast lets the two grow together each week. He said, "We get to talk to each other every week, we get to have fun and in some ways I feel like it's made my brother and I closer, talking every single week."

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Travis echoed this sentiment and explained to the news outlet that it's easy to get caught up in the routine of things, even when your routine is playing football on a national stage. Working on the podcast with his brother allows them both to pursue something outside of football. As he put it, working on the podcast together is having a profound impact on their relationship on and off the field.

Travis said, "So what this did was gave us a scheduled 2-3 hour window where we have to talk to each other and we have to talk about what we're going through, throughout the week and throughout the games. It's almost been like therapy, man."

Travis Kelce hosted an episode of Saturday Night Live

Shortly after his Super Bowl win with the Kansas City Chiefs against the Philadelphia Eagles, Travis Kelce hosted "Saturday Night Live" in March 2023. Travis hosted the episode on March 4 as part of the hit show's 48th season, which also featured Kelsea Ballerini as the episode's musical guest. According to NBC News, not only was brother Jason Kelce there along with other members of their family, but Travis couldn't help but tease Jason about the Chiefs' victory against the Eagles. "Probably the coolest thing about this Super Bowl is that my whole family was there," Travis said in his opening monologue. "I got to play against my brother Jason, who is an Eagle. And my mom was on TV more than both of us ... You know, people keep asking me what it was like to beat my brother in the Super Bowl, and it was pretty awkward. Especially because after the game we had to ride home together."

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While this wasn't Travis' first time on television, the younger Kelce brother seemed to find a new niche in comedy. The "SNL" episode and Travis's performance were both well-received, including his monologue and sketches. He even managed to include brother Jason in a parody of an NFL commercial for United Way. ESPN noted that Travis was the 34th professional athlete to host "SNL," but he may have arguably been one of the most memorable to do so.

Travis Kelce had a rumored relationship with Taylor Swift

The summer of 2023 marked a turn for Travis Kelce's love life when the Kansas City Chiefs tight end sparked public interest about whether he was dating Taylor Swift. It all started in July, when Travis attended a Swift concert in Kansas City and purportedly made a friendship bracelet with his phone number on it for the singer ... but didn't get the opportunity to give it to her. "She doesn't meet anybody, or at least she didn't want to meet me, so I took it personal," he joked on his podcast about the (non)event, as reported by Billboard.

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However, while neither confirmed they were in a relationship, fans speculated that Travis and Swift were an item by September 2023. This was in part due to comments made by Jason Kelce that he couldn't speculate about his brother's love life, as well as an increased appearance at the Kansas City Chiefs games by Swift. 

Yet Swift's appearance at Travis' games also meant increased coverage of her by the NFL, as this appeared to increase television ratings for the games. This is something that Kelce didn't seem to be a fan of. On their podcast with brother Jason Kelce, Travis said, as quoted by Sports Illustrated, "I think it's fun when they show who's at the game. I think it brings a little bit more to the atmosphere, brings a little bit more to what you're watching. But at the same time, they're overdoing it a little bit."

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Travis Kelce appeared in a record-breaking documentary about his brother

In September 2023, Amazon's Prime Video released "Kelce," a documentary about that focuses on what is is said to be "the most epic year in Jason and Travis' life," including their playing against each other at Super Bowl LVII. It quickly became a hit, with Deadline reporting in October 2023 that "Kelce" became Prime Video's most-watched documentary since its debut on September 12.

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While the documentary is primarily about Jason, Travis, being close to his older brother, is featured quite frequently throughout. According to a review of the film posted by the official Philadelphia Eagles website, viewers will also learn how Travis was inspired by Jason to keep playing football. Connor Barwin, a former player on the Eagles, helped produce the documentary and noted how authentic Jason was throughout. "For people that watch this film, it will be different from a lot of sports documentaries where it is hard to not change in front of the camera," Barwin said of Jason, as quoted on the Eagles website. "He has an incredible ability to be himself all the time." Viewers who are curious about getting an authentic look into Jason's relationship with Travis should also consider checking out the film.

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