The 2023 calendar year hasn't been much better for many more people than Travis Kelce.
Not only has the Kansas City Chiefs' top tight end won his second world championship, hosted Saturday Night Live and visited the White House, but his current relationship with singer-songwriter Taylor Swift is taking the football and pop culture worlds by storm. Kelce has ascended from star to superstar status and is now a household name even for non-football fans. The hype isn't stopping there.
In a recent exclusive interview with The Wall Street Journal, Kelce discussed just about everything. Life before football, during football and after football, as well as his family and Swift, were covered. One particular element stood out that may interest Chiefs fans, though. The 34-year-old revealed that he's undergone a shocking 10 surgeries and thinks about retirement quite often:
And yet, you wonder how well his friends really know him, how well he lets anyone know him, because to a person they all say Trav lives in the moment, Trav never thinks about tomorrow, Trav never worries about retirement, despite recently turning 34, making him a Gollum in the NFL, whereas Kelce confesses that he thinks about it nonstop, “more than anyone could ever imagine.” In the same spirit, perhaps, he keeps his own counsel about his round-the-clock physical anguish. “That’s the only thing I’ve never really been open about,” he says, “the discomfort. The pain. The lingering injuries—the 10 surgeries I’ve had that I still feel every single surgery to this day.”
Now in his 11th season in the NFL, Kelce's injury history is growing quite extensive. Back in his rookie season, he underwent a microfracture procedure to fix an ailment regarding his knee. In February of 2017, he had a cleanup operation done on his shoulder. In a three-month stretch to close 2017 and begin 2018, he suffered a pair of concussions. More recent campaigns have seen his back, knee and ankle act up at various points. The future Hall-of-Famer has dealt with a bone bruise in his knee and an ankle sprain this year alone, even missing Week 1 of the season as a result. Somehow, Kelce's played in the majority of his eligible games, but the mileage is adding up nonetheless.
Back in April, Kelce told Bleacher Report that he hadn't "put much thought into" retirement and didn't "even want to think about putting a time limit on this." His more honest confessions in the WSJ interview hint at a possible change of heart, although the reality might be somewhere in between. Amid the busiest time of his life off the field, Kelce's body is showing its most signs of wear and tear on the field. He's managing to balance it all, however, with a story from his trainer and physical therapist Alex Skacel indicating that the legendary pass catcher isn't hanging up his cleats anytime soon:
Despite it all, Kelce sounds like a man who’s never loved football more. Skacel recalls being with Kelce in Paris for Fashion Week. Around midnight, after 12 hours of bouncing from one designer show to another, Kelce was feeling guilty that he hadn’t done enough that day for his body. He suggested a run. Soon, a quick jog along the Seine turned into a mini-marathon, then wind sprints across empty bridges. While Paris slept, Kelce and Skacel grinded. It was cinematic, both men say, a double pump of adrenaline, like something out of Rocky. More, it was a reaffirmation of what matters most.
Multiple things can probably be true. Kelce doesn't seem to want to close out his career in the near future, although maybe he's becoming more and more aware of his own football mortality. With that said, he's pacing for another 1,000-yard campaign and is under contract through the end of the 2025 season. While not at the very top of his game anymore, he's still the best tight end in the sport and has plenty left to offer one of the league's best franchises. That, in and of itself, remains a win during a year filled with them for Kelce.