Chiefs TE Travis Kelce recalls ‘Welcome to the NFL’ hit from Bernard Pollard Jr.

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Every player coming from college football to the NFL has that singular moment when they realize that they’ve made it to the big leagues and that the game is on an entirely different level.

Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis Kelce recently recalled his “Welcome to the NFL” moment on Twitter. Former Chiefs S Bernard Pollard Jr. was re-living some of his glory days by sharing some clips on Twitter from his time at Purdue. One play, in particular, stuck out to Kelce.

Kelce had been in the league for a full year before his “Welcome to the NFL” happened as he didn’t play during his rookie season due to a knee injury. In the first game of the 2014 NFL season against the Tennessee Titans, Kelce was targeted by Chiefs QB Alex Smith five times. Pollard Jr., in what would be the final season of his nine-year NFL career, delivered a crushing blow against Kelce on a slant route that left a lasting impression.

The two discussed the play further on Twitter:

In 2016, Kelce went in-depth on the moment in a piece about playing the tight end position on The Player’s Tribune:

“Well, my first NFL game was against the Titans, and I came out of the gate hot. Made my first catch. Incredible feeling, really. Then, two plays later it looked like I was about to make my second catch. I was running a slant across the middle of the field. I knew that was my assignment. You know who else knew that was my assignment? Bernard Pollard, one of the hardest hitting safeties in the NFL. As soon as I caught the ball, I was looking upfield and Bernard absolutely leveled me. Put his helmet right in my sternum. I was flat on my back and the ball popped out. Fortunately it was just ruled an incompletion rather than a fumble, but I got the point. You have to really get rocked like that a few times to develop the senses you need to avoid the big shots. Once you really get popped, you don’t want it to happen again. I mean, it will, but you don’t want it to.”

And without further ado, here is the hit in question:

Pollard’s hit might have inspired Kelce to become better at avoiding big hits and tackles altogether. Last season, Kelce led the NFL in broken tackle rate according to Football Outsiders, avoiding tackles at nearly a 30% clip.

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