KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Good luck going anywhere these days without hearing or seeing something that has to do with Philadelphia Eagles centre Jason Kelce or his younger brother, Travis Kelce, the star tight end of the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs.
The former was recently dubbed one of the “Sexiest Men Alive” by “People” magazine. The latter is dating Grammy-winning superstar Taylor Swift.
Together they host one of the hottest podcasts in America, lent their voices to a Philly-centric Christmas album, and have transcended the NFL to become pop culture icons in their own right.
Even the matriarch of their family, Donna Kelce, has become an endorsement powerhouse over the past 12 months.
“It’s been a whirlwind,” admitted Jason Kelce, who will try once more to beat Travis and the Chiefs for the first time when the Eagles visit Arrowhead Stadium on Monday night for a rematch of the Super Bowl.
“It kind of started last year with the podcast and everything, and I think it continued to grow more and more.”
It’s been on hyperdrive since the Chiefs rallied to beat the Eagles for the Lombardi Trophy in February.
That is when many football fans began to latch onto their podcast, “New Heights, with Jason and Travis Kelce,” where the duo provided a glimpse of their lives behind their facemasks. The Kelces rap on everything from what happened that week in the NFL to what happened in the worlds of TV and entertainment, all with a stunningly disarming sense of humour.
That’s also about the time that people began embracing Donna, who has made every effort to show up for both of her boys’ games over the years — including those against each other — yet had never been in such a spotlight. She famously wore a half-Eagles, half-Chiefs jersey to the Super Bowl, and there is little doubt she will bring it out again on Monday night.
Suddenly, the Kelce brothers were showing up on late-night TV shows. Playing in made-for-TV golf spectacles.
Raising millions of dollars for charitable causes. And yes, rubbing elbows with singers, actors and the Hollywood elite.
“You just try to take it one game at a time,” Jason Kelce said, using that well-worn cliche to describe the way he handles the hullabaloo. “You try to stay grounded with it. You try to stay realistic with it. You try to be the same person you are.”
Even if you are named one of the sexiest men alive.
Then there’s Travis Kelce, whose profile began growing the minute he stepped onto the field for his second season with the Chiefs. Since then, he’s been an All-Pro four times, selected to eight Pro Bowls, won three AFC championships and two Super Bowl rings _ including that one at the expense of his brother.
Travis Kelce didn’t become a crossover star, though, until he mentioned his failed attempt at giving Swift one of her famous friendship bracelets during a stop on her Eras Tour.
Undeterred, he invited the songstress to watch him perform at Arrowhead Stadium, and after she took him up on the offer early this season, the two have been seen together all over the world.
That includes Buenos Aires, where last weekend Kelce took advantage of the Chiefs’ bye week to drop in on her concert. And in a scene that was all over social media, Swift not only changed one of her lyrics — “Karma is the guy on the screen” became “Karma is the guy on the Chiefs” — she also raced off the stage to kiss him after finishing a song.
“We’re learning with the paparazzi just taking photos from all over the place,” Kelce admitted. “You have a lot of people that care for Taylor and for good reason. Just got to keep living and learning and enjoying the moments.”
On the field, there have been a lot of good ones for both brothers.
The Eagles are 8-1 and were leading the NFC as they entered the weekend, while the Chiefs are 7-2 and atop the AFC. And while both teams have a long way to go, nobody would be surprised if they met again in Las Vegas for the Super Bowl.
The NFL certainly would have no problem with it.
The Kelce brothers — despite playing two of the least-glamorous positions in the game — no doubt have created countless new football fans with their off-the-field endeavors.
After all, how many “Swifities” have tuned in to see whether their hero will show up to the next Chiefs game, then became hooked on what happened between the end zones?
“Listen,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said this week, “ex-players have done a great job once they’ve gotten done. We know that. But to have the guys still playing and doing it, and still maintaining the support of their teams doing it? That means they are doing it the right way, and not putting coaches and players at risk. There’s no threat there. That’s when you get in trouble.”
Other players have transcended the sport over the years, though usually they play quarterback: Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and, yes, the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes.
But rarely have they dived so headlong into the myriad of ventures of the Kelce brothers.
That includes “A Philly Special Christmas,” which features Jason Kelce singing alongside Eagles teammates Jordan Mailata and Lane Johnson, and with Travis Kelce enlisted to sing “Fairytale of Philadelphia” on their sophomore effort.
It’s a lot that could take away from what happens on the field. Yet somehow, the Kelce brothers have thrived while doing it.
“This will continue to grow with other teams,” predicated Reid, who has known the family for decades, and even coached Jason Kelce when he was in Philadelphia. “How you handle it is important. And these guys have done a nice job.”