All in the Football Family with the Kelces
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - Andy Reid and Doug Pederson may be from the same football family but there will be a much closer bond than that taking place this weekend when the Kansas City Chiefs host the Eagles.
Brothers Jason Kelce and Travis Kelce will be squaring off for the first time as professionals at Arrowhead Stadium.
As offensive starters, the former Pro Bowl center and explosive tight end will not be on the field at the same time but that's not going to stop the competitive nature of a rivalry that dates back to childhood.
"Literally everything you could think of, we turned into some sort of game, some sort of competition,” Travis told the Philadelphia-area media on a conference call Wednesday. “Every single day was a new challenge trying to beat my brother in anything. So, it definitely made me an athlete, and the competitive player I am today.”
The younger Kelce was the most productive tight end in football last season, snaring 85 catches for 1,125 yards and four touchdowns, headlining an impressive trio of skill-position players that quarterback Alex Smith will have at his disposal this weekend.
Perhaps the NFL's fastest player, receiver Tyreek Hill, and explosive rookie running back Kareem Hunt, who ran for 148 yards and added another 98 receiving during his NFL debut against the reigning Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, will also be concerns for Jim Schwartz and the Philadelphia defense.
“KC had a pretty good game against New England and (Travis) was hyping up his boy Alex Smith pretty good,” Jason Kelce said.
Jason is two years older than Travis and he used that experience to gain the upper hand earlier in life.
“He was two years older, so I’ll give him that," Travis said. "Just know that when I won, it was like Christmas every day.”
And what was Travis winning?
You name it. “Whoever got the remote first, got to pick which channels we were watching," he jokes. "Whoever got to the Xbox first when we got home, got to pick which game we were playing. It was just little competitions like that.”
The Kelces played together at Cleveland Heights High School and the University of Cincinnati and it's not a coincidence that both brothers were drafted by Reid, Jason in the sixth round of the 2011 draft by the Eagles, and Travis at No. 63 overall in 2013. Reid saw differences in personality but he DNA of winners. Both are now two-time Pro Bowl selections.
“They are completely different,” the Chiefs' coach said. “Travis is a live wire. Jason is very stoic. Just completely different guys but both very good, big hearts. They love to play the game and are tremendous players.”
Travis, meanwhile, is still a charter member of his older brother's fan club.
“I think he’s the best center in the league," he said. "He’s one of the most athletic guys I’ve ever seen at 290 pounds. He’s strong. He’s smart. And sure enough, when he gets out there in the screen game and in the run game in the open field, he’s deadly.”
Mom and Pop Kelce will also be on hand in Kansas City Sunday and playing no favorites, making custom-made split jerseys, half-Eagles and half-Chiefs.
“It’s going to be hard. I haven’t really asked them how they’re going to feel, but I mean, we’re both on the offensive side of the ball,” Travis said. “It sounds to me like they’re just gonna be cheering for the offense, no matter which way they go.”
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen