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Travis Kelce, with $57.25M extension in hand, ready to help Chiefs navigate villain role

·Senior NFL writer
·6 min read
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The Kansas City Chiefs have been riding high since their Super Bowl victory in February, and they haven’t been shy about expressing their excitement.

The night of their 31-20 triumph over San Francisco, defensive tackle Chris Jones guaranteed a Chiefs dynasty, a refrain he has repeated since then. Recently, wide receiver Tyreek Hill mused that the Chiefs are chasing Michael Jordan, going for seven rings.

Chiefs coach Andy Reid recently noted he’s “not big on” that type of talk, though he appreciates their confidence. Patrick Mahomes recently said the bravado is fine, provided they keep putting in the work necessary to back it up.

On Wednesday, another team captain — tight end Travis Kelce — co-signed on Mahomes’ sentiments.

“As long as guys are working, and we’re not being out of control in the media, I don't think there’s anything wrong with it,” Kelce told Yahoo Sports. “And yeah, we were a little excited after the Super Bowl as we understood how many guys were coming back, the fact that our coaches and everybody were motivated to do this thing again.”

Yet Kelce has noticed that when you win a Super Bowl, things change. For Kelce, one of those changes is an agreement on the framework of a four-year, $57.25 million contract extension, sources told Yahoo Sports Thursday afternoon. The new deal includes $28 million guaranteed, sources said. Kelce was playing on a deal that expired following the 2021 season. San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle reset the market Thursday with a five-year, $75 million megadeal.

Not only are individual players’ legacies altered with a Super Bowl win, but public perception does too ... especially if you win multiple titles.

At some point, like the New England Patriots did, you become the villains as other fan bases grow tired of watching you win and thwarting their own teams’ hopes. Kelce acknowledged this, but noted that the Chiefs’ playing style may shield them from this reality for a while.

Travis Kelce (center, with WWE championship belt) and the Chiefs are a confident team heading into the 2020 season. This may ultimately cast them as NFL villains, but Kelce says they're ready for the challenge. (Photo by Kyle Rivas/Getty Images)
Travis Kelce (center, with WWE championship belt) and the Chiefs are a confident team heading into the 2020 season. This may ultimately cast them as NFL villains, but Kelce says they're ready for the challenge. (Photo by Kyle Rivas/Getty Images)

“I think right now, everybody enjoys watching us play because of how much excitement we bring and how much …. I want to say class, but we’re starting to speak out a little bit more so I don’t wanna take back my words here after this year when we start rolling and everyone’s sky high talking about how good we are,” Kelce joked.

“But no, I think we’ve definitely done it in a respectable manner and gone out there and played the game, having fun, man. You see the energy, you see how much we appreciate each other on this team and it’s contagious, it’s infectious when you see it. And I think if we stay on that track man, we’re gonna keep reeling fans in and getting everybody on the bandwagon for sure.”

The bandwagon is full now, with several Chiefs seeing their individual brands improve after the Super Bowl victory. That includes Kelce, who is not only being noticed more when he goes out — “[The fame] has definitely gone up, that’s just what the Super Bowl does for you,” he said — but also used it to to score a partnership with EA Sports as a pitchman for “Madden 21”, which will be released Aug. 25.

“It’s a game that I used in college and my early years in the league to actually help me read coverages, help me figure out and feel confident in what I’m doing out on the field,” Kelce said.

And as a long-time “Madden” gamer, Kelce was happy to make media rounds on behalf of the franchise Wednesday, pitching the game’s newest mode, “The Yard,” which reminds him of his days playing football outside with his friends as a kid.

“Just good old flag football, basically — 7-on-7, 6-on-6 games in the backyard,” Kelce said. “And you meet up as your own avatar, your own custom player, you can swag them out however you want, pick the skill set you want your player to have and obviously, with the more wins and more points you score, the more opportunity you have to swag your player out even more, getting new items, whether it’s a decal for the helmet, whether it’s a backplate message, a new jersey, new cleats, whatever it is man, you can swag your dude out to the max, as well as increase his skill. It’s cool.”

Kelce still plays the game as a means of relaxing, like most of his teammates, he estimates. But there’s less time for that during the season, when players are focused on winning and enjoying the spoils that may one day come with that … like making the Hall of Fame.

Practically every Super Bowl champion ends up getting at least a few players in the Hall, and with his impressive play in the Super Bowl and his recent inclusion into the 2010s All-Decade Team, the 30-year-old Kelce has positioned himself to be firmly in that discussion when he retires.

“Everyone dreams about it,” Kelce said. “If you don’t have a goal of eventually one day wearing that gold jacket, I think you’re in the wrong profession because striving to be the greatest at what you do is everything that I’ve been taught as a man.”

Kelce insists he doesn’t dwell on it much because he still has a lot he wants to accomplish before he retires.

“I just feel like I’m more at ease as a person and a player when I don’t think about stuff like [the Hall of Fame],” Kelce said. “All I think about is, ‘What I can do now and how I can better the team and better my play?’”

When it comes to that — as well as the Chiefs backing up their big talk — if the team wins, the rest should take care of itself.

“The biggest thing that got us to the Super Bowl last year was our ability to work, and it wasn’t just in training camp, it was the 17-week season we were working through and a good four weeks in the playoffs to get our minds right for the Super Bowl,” Kelce said. “So having that mentality and not getting complacent at all, at any point, in the roller coaster that we call the NFL season [is crucial]. So it’s definitely exciting when training camp came around this year to see everyone eager and ready to work.”

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