Most have heard the legend of Michael Jordan being cut from his high school basketball team (side note: he wasn’t), but Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis Kelce once had a similar, albeit self-inflicted experience that helped alter his career trajectory for the better.
Currently the NFL’s second-leading receiver through Week 13, the two-time All-Pro joined New Orleans Saints DE Cameron Jordan and Baltimore Ravens RB Mark Ingram on the latest episode of the Truss Levelz podcast this week to detail how he overcame one of his lowest moments in college.
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Big Brother Jason to the Rescue
Around the 13:40 mark of his appearance on the popular podcast from The Player’s Tribune, Kelce expressed the gratitude he holds toward his older brother and tenth-year Philadelphia Eagles center Jason Kelce, who went to bat for him in a big way back in 2010.
“I’m sure you might’ve heard a story, but I got kicked off the team and my brother (Jason) had actually went to the university, went to the coaching staff and everybody at the university and really tried to get me to get back on the team — and under his supervision,” Kelce explained.
“So he took me in. I lived in his room. I literally put two beds in one room and we just shacked it up his senior year. I owe him so much credit for doing that and putting his name on the line for me to be able to finish my career at Cincinnati. It was something that I cherish so much that’s hard to explain to people, to be honest.”
The story the younger Kelce refers to is him being suspended from the Cinncinati Bearcats football program 10 years ago for a violation of team rules, later revealed to be a failed drug test for marijuana.
Kelce Setting Records in 2020
Fortunately for the now-31-year-old, his big brother and father, Ed, had the foresight at the time to know that Travis needed a change of scenery if he was going to avoid regretting his decision-making years down the line.
“I told him, ‘You know, if Travis grows up to be 50 years old, and still regrets some decisions from college, we haven’t done a great job,'” Jason said, via The Philadelphia Inquirer in 2017. “‘When he’s 50 he’ll hopefully have a wife and kids, people relying on him, and if he’s still looking back at some stupid decision he made involved with college athletics, that’s not right.'”
Thanks to the family gesture and an $8 per hour telemarketing desk job that Travis later said “wasn’t for me,” the Chiefs star was able to rededicate himself to his craft on the field. With four games left to play in the 2020 regular season, Kelce, who is already on pace for career-highs across the board, needs just 264 more receiving yards to break George Kittle’s all-time single-season receiving mark for a tight end (1,377) set in 2018.
Last week, the five-time Pro Bowler also became the first player at his position in NFL history to record five 1,000-yard seasons — something not even fellow Chiefs legend and Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez accomplished during his 17-year pro career. So, it’s safe to say things are looking up for the once “immature” college athlete turned Chiefs captain.
Chris Licata is an NFL contributor covering the Kansas City Chiefs from enemy territory in Denver, CO. Follow him on Twitter @Chris__Licata or join our Heavy on Chiefs Facebook community for the latest out of Chiefs Kingdom!