In his recent interview with the Wall Street Journal Magazine, Kansas City Chiefs tight end, Travis Kelce indicated he does think about retirement. Stating surgeries and injuries are taking their toll on the 34-year-old two-time Super Bowl Champion as a big factor in that decision. So that begs the question, with his budding romance with Pop Star, Taylor Swift, and NFL’s Father Time running towards Kelce, would he hang up his cleats after this season?
The 2023 season has been anything but smooth for Kansas City Chiefs Tight End, Travis Kelce on the field. Off the field, he’s a rockstar. Between his relationship with Taylor Swift, the New Heights Podcast, and nearly two dozen local and national endorsement deals, it won’t be long before Hollywood comes calling with scripts and TV shows.
Yes, he’s that popular nationally!
On the field, Travis Kelce hasn’t been the same player as he was last season. This season he’s scored five touchdowns and caught 64 passes for 641 receiving yards. For most tight ends that’s a season full of statistics, in fact, tight ends with similar numbers make more money than Kelce. Compounding those numbers he’s already battled a knee and ankle injury this season, and still played at this level, which tells me the drive to play is still alive and well.
Still, it’s been a struggle this year because the offense has been stuck in the mud most of the season. Kelce has been triple-teamed, hit at the line of scrimmage, pulled, and thrown down all over the field. The fact, he has the numbers to date on his regular season ledger, is quite remarkable.
His quarterback, Patrick Mahomes is confident those tactics won’t continue to work, and he believes Kelce is going to come up big the rest of the season. Assuming he’s correct, and the season ends in Las Vegas with yet another Lombardi Trophy, what does Kelce have left to prove on the football field?
Should he retire, he has plenty of money, and from all accounts is smart with the money he’s earned from the NFL and his endorsements. Then there’s the Taylor Swift factor. Let’s be honest the couple is in Love, and her tour doesn’t end until mid-December 2024. For those Chiefs fans who don’t think that’s a reason for Travis to retire, love is a powerful drug.
The fact Kelce was so open about the injuries and surgeries taking a toll on his body, remains very telling if you read the tea leaves. It’s one thing to single those items out but it’s another thing to state how often he does think about retiring.
So, have we seen the best of Kelce? Well based on his recent comments on the New Heights Podcast this week, he appears to have plenty of fire left and the resolve to play at a higher level this season and beyond.
One thing is certain, if he indeed retires, he’s going to retire a Chief. Secondly, as close as he is with his family, especially his older brother Jason, who at 36 years young remains the best center in the NFL. He’s also talked about 2023 being his last year in an Eagles uniform.
Now I don’t think one will be influenced by the other should either Jason or Travis retire, but with the success of the Kelce brand in the beginning stages, honestly, I could see both saying the hell with it and cashing in on their fame.
Despite what we see in the water-downed NFL these days, this is still a brutal sport. It’s physical, it takes far more emotional levels of focus than it did a decade ago, and when you’re on a team that is favored to win the Super Bowl every year, letting that go for another run or two, also faces extreme challenges internally.
After all, the combination of Mahomes and Kelce is one of the top duos of all time, and should they play together through the 2024 season, when Kelce would become a free agent at the age of 36, perhaps that’s the time to hang it up.
If I were a betting man, when the 2023 postseason ends, I suspect Kelce will take a few months off, travel with his girlfriend, and get a sneak peek at civilian celebrity life away from football. In fact, I could see him skipping OTA’s this year and off-season workouts with Mahomes, for a much-needed physical break.
For the Chiefs coaches and front office personnel, they’ll likely take a tight end in the first round next April. Further, they’re going to add a top-shelf wide receiver like Tee Higgins, to give Mahomes more weapons, as they rebuild the offense.
I’m sure the trio of Clark Hunt, Andy Reid, and Brett Veach will allow Kelce some time to make his decision about coming back in 2024. Further, they’ll prepare for him to fulfill his four-year, $57.25 Million contract extension he signed back in 2020, and they’ll be glad to pay him every cent of it.
If Kelce wants to stay longer, you bet he’ll get a new contract in the offseason.
Regardless of what happens this season, Super Bowl glory or bust, I think based on the words he expressed in the WSJ article, that life without Travis Kelce in a Chiefs uniform is likely going to happen sooner rather than later.
Kelce is a rare combination of an elite player on the field and a humble celebrity off the field. Should he retire, the TV networks will go into a frenzy adding him to their national broadcasts every Sunday. Because of his popularity, he could break the bank in that industry. If Jason also retires, they’ll replace the popularity of the Manning Brothers.
So, whatever happens next, for yours truly, Travis Kelce has earned the right to do whatever he wants. Should he step down after this season or next, he has given everything to the sport, the city of Kansas City, and the Chiefs on the field, that his body could give.
I hope he plays two or three more years, but I suspect that won’t be the case. For now, I’m just going to enjoy the person he is and hope that playing in Las Vegas on Sunday adds that extra drive to make sure he and his teammates come back in the middle of February to claim back-to-back Super Bowl Titles in Sin City!