Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce is simply one of a kind.
When the ball’s snapped, Kelce can beat any defensive back in the league off the line of scrimmage with elite physicality and speed.
When the ball’s in the air, he can track it like the all-time great tight ends and make any kind of circus catch.
When the ball’s in his hands, he can make any player miss by running through them, around them, or in Sunday’s case, over them.
When the play’s over, touchdown or not, Kelce celebrates like he just caught the game winning touchdown in a 5th grade pickup game at recess.
Everything that makes Kelce the charismatic highlight reel that he is, also brings to the surface numerous head scratching moments.
The 27-year-old, playing in his fourth full season as a professional, has accumulated his fair share of moments that have nothing to do with his play on the field, but make fans either sigh, laugh, yell or all of the above.
Lighter moments include making an obscene gesture toward Denver’s Von Miller after a late hit on his quarterback or throwing his towel in the air like a penalty flag, in the direction of a referee, in response to a no-call.
Off the field, he’s called out a referee that he said should go back to work at Foot Locker, made it rain on ESPN by throwing loads of cash in the air on national TV and even stared in his own reality dating show featuring 50 women from every state.
But perhaps the more memorable, and costly, have been his unsportsmanlike conduct penalties against the Steelers in the playoff game, week one in New England and Sunday against Philadelphia, where he sprinted to the Eagles sideline, screaming things that probably shouldn’t be repeated, after a Chiefs touchdown.
This is not a good look for Kelce, or the team. But it’s also as authentic and genuine as his electric touchdown dances that have taken the league by storm. In a perfect world, in head coach Andy Reid’s perfect world, Kelce would stop the penalties and still produce the way he is right now. But this far into his career, after acknowledging his mistakes and still repeating them, it’s clear that the two are binary parts of who Kelce is.
While it may be frustrating for fans to see, if he continues to consistently perform at an elite level, the potential good will almost always outweigh the potential bad.
Kelce’s unsportsmanlike conduct penalty Sunday resulted in a 15-yard penalty on the kickoff, which gave the Eagles nine more yards to start their drive than if they would have taken a knee. Little mistakes like that are costly.
However, he’s still a player that hauled in 651 receiving yards in just six games, and on Sunday, literally jumped from the 5-yard line, with three defenders looking to clean his clock, and somehow landed a yard into the end zone for a touchdown. Even Michael Jordan’s half court dunk in Space Jam has to tip its cap to what Kelce did.
It’s undeniable that Kelce has hurt his team with the mistakes and it’s undeniable that the team would be nowhere near as good without him. It’s just a matter of finding the happy medium for one of the most intriguing players in the league.
At least for now, the 100 plus yards receiving and gravity defying jumps make up for the penalties that give the opposition nine more yards. But it’s a fine line to walk. Whether or not the good or bad eventually rises to the top, remains to be seen. But at least for now, Chiefs fans should enjoy all that is the Travis Kelce experience. Because it’s simply one of a kind.
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