Kelce becoming global star during wild season with Chiefs
The 2023-24 NFL season has been a wild one for Travis Kelce.
Despite having his worst statistical regular season since his sophomore campaign in 2015, the Kansas City Chiefs tight end has gone from being a North American sports superstar to a globally known name thanks to his high-profile relationship with music icon Taylor Swift.
Kelce has never shied away from the limelight during his Hall of Fame worthy, 10-year career in Kansas City, and this season hasn't been any different with the Chiefs on the brink of their third Super Bowl since 2020.
Let's take a closer look at Travis Kelce throughout his years in the NFL.
Travis Kelce Chiefs
Kelce was selected in the third round, 63rd overall, in the 2013 NFL Draft out of Cincinnati.
Over three seasons with the Bearcats, Kelce recorded 59 receptions for 875 yards and 10 touchdowns in 35 games.
During his rookie season with the Chiefs in 2014, Kelce put up some solid numbers, catching 67 passes for 862 yards and five touchdowns with Alex Smith serving as the man behind centre.
The 2014 season also marked the only time Kelce has missed the playoffs during his career.
Kelce's stats improved over the next couple seasons as the Chiefs started to qualify for the postseason and become a contender in the AFC.
However, everything changed in 2018 when Patrick Mahomes became the Chiefs' No. 1 quarterback.
The best offensive duo in the NFL?
Kansas City Chiefs
Kansas City selected Mahomes with the 10th overall pick in 2017 and he received the full-time starter's role in 2018.
Kelce and Mahomes wasted no time in becoming one of the NFL's most prolific and feared offensive tandems.
Kelce, who was just entering his prime during Mahomes' rookie season in 2018, recorded 103 receptions for 1,336 yards and 10 touchdowns as the Chiefs won the AFC West for a third consecutive season. Kansas City would advance to the AFC Championship where they would fall to Tom Brady and the eventual Super Bowl champion New England Patriots.
The tough loss was just the beginning for Kelce and Mahomes as 2019 marked the start of Kansas City's dynasty that is still going on today.
Super Bowl Runs
Kansas City Chiefs
Kelce put up another Pro Bowl season in 2019 as the Chiefs advanced to Super Bowl LIV where they would defeat the San Francisco 49ers for their first league title since 1969.
Kelce caught six passes for 43 yards, highlighted by a very important one-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter to pull the Chiefs within three points en route to their eventual 31-20 victory.
The 2020 campaign was one of Kelce's best seasons in the NFL with 105 receptions and a career-best 1,416 yards receiving and 11 touchdowns.
Kansas City reached another level as well, posting an impressive 14-2 record in the regular season before taking care of business in the playoffs with wins over the Cleveland Browns and Buffalo Bills to reach their second straight Super Bowl.
Unfortunately for Kelce and the Chiefs, Super Bowl LV in Tampa Bay was a bump in the road as Brady led the Buccaneers to a 31-9 beatdown for the quarterback's seventh and final Lombardi Trophy.
Despite the loss, Kelce still put together a terrific game, catching 10 passes for 133 yards.
After back-to-back seasons ending in disappointment, the Chiefs were as determined as ever to be the last team standing once again in 2022.
Kelce did his part in the regular season, recording 1,000-plus yards receiving for the seventh consecutive year and catching a career-best 12 touchdowns before earning All-Pro honours for the fourth time.
After winning another divisional title and dispatching the Jacksonville Jaguars and Bengals in the playoffs, the Chiefs found themselves in another Super Bowl, this time taking on Kelce's older brother Jason and his Eagles.
The game would go down as one of the best in Super Bowl history with the Chiefs edging out the Eagles by a score of 38-35.
Kelce recorded six receptions for 81 yards and a touchdown.
The 2023 Season
Entering his age-34 season in 2023, Kelce was already considered a Hall of Famer and arguably the best tight end to ever step on the gridiron.
His off-the-field status was starting to grow as well.
Kelce hosted Saturday Night Live shortly after the Chiefs' Super Bowl victory and started making waves on social media with the popular podcast, dubbed "New Heights," he shares with his brother.
Kelce's popularity skyrocketed in the early portion of this season, however, when rumours swirled he was dating global superstar Taylor Swift. Those rumours were confirmed when Swift attended her first game, a 41-10 Week 4 victory over the Chicago Bears on Sept. 24.
Swift has been to 12 games this season, including all three of Kansas City's playoff wins. Her status for Feb. 11's Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas is up in the air as she has a concert in Japan the day before.
Taylor Swift performs in Japan the night before the Super Bowl. It will end around 10pm Tokyo time (5 am Las Vegas time).— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) January 28, 2024
The flight from Tokyo to Vegas takes 12 hours, meaning Swift can arrive at 5pm local on the day before the Super Bowl, 25 hours, 35 mins before kickoff.
On the field, Kelce has had better seasons than 2023, statistically speaking.
The native of Westlake, Ohio caught 93 passes for 984 yards and five touchdowns over 15 games this season, his lowest totals since 2015.
In the playoffs, Kelce has turned it up a few notches, recording 23 receptions for 262 yards and three touchdowns over three games. His performance in Sunday's AFC Championship against the Baltimore Ravens was highlighted by becoming the all-time leader in playoff receptions with 156, passing the great Jerry Rice.
A big factor in his @Chiefs defeat of the Ravens to take home the #AFCChampionship Sunday afternoon, Travis Kelce hauled in a touchdown and 116 yards off of 11 receptions. Via the 7th of those grabs, he moved into 1st all-time on this list of standout names in #NFLPlayoff history pic.twitter.com/EtshRUbEFd— StatsCentre (@StatsCentre) January 29, 2024
Though long in the tooth for his career, Travis Kelce collected 116 yards of receiving in the @Chiefs 17-10 #AFCChampionship conquest at Baltimore on Sunday afternoon. It marked his 8th #NFLPlayoff effort of 100+ all-time, pulling him into a tie atop this list of receiving greats pic.twitter.com/hQskHCvbIt— StatsCentre (@StatsCentre) January 29, 2024
Whatever happens in this year's Super Bowl, it's a safe bet Travis Kelce's popularity isn't going anywhere, anytime soon.
Regular Season Stats