Is the tight end the bro-gotta-bro party boy position in football?
Taking over for retired New England Patriot Rob Gronkowski, and among the most entertaining personalities in the NFL, Kansas City Chiefs’ Travis Kelce and San Francisco 49ers’ George Kittle — both heading to Super Bowl LIV on Sunday — aren’t just the life of the party: they are the party.
“I just love to live life, man,” Kelce told The Associated Press with a big smile. “And I like to enjoy happiness along the way.”
This comes from a guy whose silly, entertaining, ridiculous, hilarious — or all of the above — dances to celebrate his touchdowns instantly go viral moments after he gets into the end zone.
The 6-foot-5, 260-pound Kelce has “Hit the Quan” and done “The Chicken Head” and everything in between. He’s the life of a football party that has moved to the NFL’s biggest stage, and with a worldwide audience watching.
Kelce is doing a pretty good job of getting himself into the record books with his play on the field, too.
He holds the NFL record for the most seasons by a tight end with 1,000 or more yards receiving with four and counting.
Kelce is a favorite target of quarterback Patrick Mahomes and established himself as possibly the best all-around tight end in the game.
“Kelce’s a beast,” Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill said. “He’s special. I’ve never seen a guy that size to have that much ability or to carry that kind of swagger. He’s definitely a leader.”
The 49ers’ Kittle is a fun-loving character whose approach to the game mimics that of a playful professional wrestler. After all, his nickname is “Stone Cold Kittle,” after “Stone Cold” Steve Austin.
He even uses a gesture to celebrate first downs that he borrowed from Pentagón Jr., a Mexican wrestler. He makes a circle with his thumb and forefinger to form a “0” and then flicks his wrist so his other fingers form an “M” for Pentagón Jr.’s catchphrase: “Cero miedo,” which means “zero fear.”
Kittle is an affable guy who is always smiling and cracking jokes. After the 49ers’ victory over the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship game, the tight end walked around doing TV interviews while wearing a T-shirt of a bare-chested quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo that a fan had sent to him.
Of course, the photos and video went viral — just like his first-down celebrations.
“I think we both have a really good time playing football,” Kittle said of himself and Kelce. “You can see that on the tape. We both just enjoy being out there with our teammates. We both make plays when we’re asked to, and I think we both make plays when we’re not asked to.”
They’ve also been able to make plays when they aren’t there.
Last season, Kittle had the most yards after catch (YAC) — 870 — since the stat began being tracked in 2010. He ranked first this season among non-running backs with 602.
“One guy shouldn’t bring us down,” the 6-foot-4, 245-pound Kittle said. “And if you have that mindset, where you’re going to run through someone’s face, it definitely makes the YAC a lot easier.”
Kelce isn’t too shabby, either, ranking third among tight ends with 410 yards after catch.
“I do believe the run after catch is something I’ve been able to have a knack since I have been in the league,” Kelce said. “Obviously, since Kittle has been in the league, he’s taken that to a whole other level.”
The two tight ends are far from one-dimensional. They do more than their fair share of blocking, too, while contributing to their teams’ running games.
They’ll hit defenders with a smile. And then show off some dance moves.
“I think we’re both positive guys,” Kelce said. “We both love to play the game and, at the same time, we both love life.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.