After winning the Super Bowl in the 2019-2020 NFL season, Travis Kelce forever cemented his legacy. Kelce would already be going down in history as an all-time great at the position. He is also an early shoe-in for both the Hall of Fame and any Kansas City Chiefs considerations. Following his second Super Bowl victory, is there a case for Kelce to be the best ever at his position?
Why Travis Kelce is the Greatest Tight End Ever
During Kelce’s nine-year career, he has amassed enough stats to sit fourth in receptions. Not to mention he is fourth in receiving yards, sixth in touchdowns, and holds the postseason record for receptions as a tight end. When compared to the players ahead of him, Kelce has been hyper-efficient. Tony Gonzalez played 270 games. Jason Witten played 271. Antonio Gates seemingly played forever and played 236. Kelce is on the Mount Rushmore of receiving statistics despite only playing 144 games. For those wondering where Rob Gronkowski is on the list, he played 143 games and was only ahead in touchdowns.
If Travis Kelce stays on the same path as other tight ends, he is nowhere near the end of his career. His play style is not like Gronkowski’s which takes a lot of hits. He plays more similarly to a supercharged Witten, who played a shocking 14 seasons. Gates played well into his late thirties. As Kelce continues to rack up stats, his case for the greatest of all time will be even more and more clear.
The NFL community has gotten so used to Kelce’s dominance that it feels like white noise at this point. Since 2016, Kelce has been either All-Pro first team (four times) or second-team (3 times) every year. Equally important, since 2015 he has been a Pro Bowl player every year (eight times). He was included on the NFL 2010s All-Decade team despite only playing half the decade in a relevant spotlight. According to NFL.com, he currently holds the record for:
- 1,000+ yard seasons as a tight end (seven)
- Consecutive 1,000+ yard seasons as a tight end (also seven)
- Receiving yards in a single season as a tight end (1,416)
- 100+ yard games as a tight end (35)
- Fastest tight end to 10,000 yards (140 games, 37 faster than the previous record holder)
- 100+ reception seasons as a tight end (3)
- Post season receptions as a tight end (120, 30 behind Jerry Rice for all positions)
This list is not all-inclusive, and as his career continues he will close the gap to the other tight ends that currently hold records.
The Kansas City Chiefs have been blessed with some of the best offensive players of this century. Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill, and even Jamaal Charles have been key members of Arrowhead Stadium. Yet year after year, the Chiefs possess a top-ten offense in the league. In all of these great offenses, Travis Kelce has been the key cog. Kelce either led or was second on each of these teams in receiving yards. No other tight end can say the same over this span.
Tyreek Hill’s departure this off-season was a controversial trade at best. Kelce’s steady presence on the field and in the locker room is the reason that the Chiefs were able to lose an All-Pro level player and still maintain a top offense. Even the most bullish analysts in the off-season did not see this team making a Super Bowl run. The Chiefs lost a 1,700-yard receiver and went from the fourth-highest-scoring offense to the number-one offense in the league. Now Kelce is the leader in receptions, yards, and touchdowns in this number-one offense.
Super Bowl Impact
While most tight ends have immaculate regular season stat lines, Travis Kelce has a Super Bowl history to be envious of. In his first appearance, he recorded six catches for 43 yards and a touchdown. In his second appearance, he set a Super Bowl record at the position with 15 targets for ten receptions and 133 yards. In 2023, he was clearly the Chiefs best option in their Super Bowl victory over the Eagles. His six catches for 81 yards led the team in receiving, and his lone touchdown was the only one by a player with more than one catch.
Travis Kelce already has a case for the greatest of all time at his position. The tight end position was revolutionized in the early 2000s by some greats, but Kelce embodies the full position today. While the career counting stats are not where they need to be yet, his impact on multiple elite offenses warrants consideration. We will never see another player be as dominant, for as long as Travis Kelce. Anyone who thinks otherwise is a jabroni.
Travis Kelce out here cutting promos. The man is a national treasure. pic.twitter.com/b27qgBANWS
— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) January 30, 2023
Main Photo: Kirby Lee – USA Today Sports