Life is good these days for Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, especially in the eyes of his peers.
"He has helped transform the tight end position," Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski said. "He has helped put the tight end position on the map."
Kelce set a single-season record for a tight end with 1,416 yards, along with 105 receptions and 11 touchdowns – his best statistical season.
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"You got to have that confidence," Kelce said. "You got to have that beast mentality that I cannot be stopped, and I've acquired that over the eight years I've played here."
The 31-year-old former University of Cincinnati standout started his college career as a quarterback used in the Wildcat formation. He eventually set the school record for receiving yards for a tight end in the 2012 season.
The feat almost didn't happen. Kelce was suspended for the 2010 season when a drug test came back positive for marijuana. His older brother and Bearcats teammate Jason Kelce stepped in.
"The entire offseason he was begging the coaches to give me another chance," Kelce said on the Shannon Sharpe podcast. "He set a list of things that I had to accomplish to be able to reap the benefit of playing football at University of Cincinnati. I'm forever thankful for that conversation. It took a lot of guts for him to be able to go in there and put his name on the line for myself, knowing that I threw this scholarship away and down the drain like it didn't mean nothing. There was a moment where I had to grow up."
Kelce did grow up, and he made quite the career for himself. He has five straight 1,000-yard seasons and became the first tight end in NFL history to have multiple 100-catch seasons.
As much as he is doing on the field, sports anchor Aaron Ladd for 41 Action News in Kansas City said, Kelce is also making a big impact off the field.
"His growth and maturity have been storied amongst this year's Chiefs squad," Ladd said. "You can't talk enough about what he does with his foundation, 87 and Running, and Operation Breakthrough, here in Kansas City. A lot of that work that he did during a pandemic this year during one of the strangest years that we've ever had got him nominated by his teammates for the Walter Payton Man of the Year."
After winning the Super Bowl last year, Kelce is hoping to do it again this year.
"I'm just going to go out there every single day and just put in the work, enjoy the process with my brothers and hope that we go out there and we put on a show and drag ourselves across the finish line," Kelce said.