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Kelce brothers grew up amid ‘enjoyable chaos’ before football careers

Jason Kelce and Travis Kelce are bound by more than a mother who brought them homemade cookies Monday on the opening night of Super Bowl week.

There’s also talk of aliens and livestock.

Rule-breaking and storytelling.

Fiery oratory and football.

And, of course, impending history Sunday in Super Bowl 57.

Super Bowl Central: Super Bowl 57 odds, Eagles-Chiefs matchups, stats and more

Jason, the starting center for the Philadelphia Eagles, and Travis, the starting tight end for the Kansas City Chiefs, are set to become the first brothers to play on opposing teams in Super Bowl.

“This is bragging rights for Thanksgiving,’’ said Donna Kelce, their mother. “This is for all the marbles.’’

Sometimes, the marbles look a little loose when Jason and Travis Kelce get together.

The freewheeling podcast

The week before the 2022 season started, the Kelce brothers launched a podcast called “New Heights with Jason & Travis Kelce,’’ a nod to their hometown of Cleveland Heights in Ohio.

Less than eight minutes into the first episode, Jason explained how he bought 11 cows in the offseason and provided details about his involvement in the calves’ branding and castration..

“I was like, ‘Oh, God, we’re going downhill from here,’ ” said Aaron Eanes, who is the president of A&A Management Group and has worked with the brothers on the project.

No need to worry. “New Heights’’ has ranked among the top sports podcasts in the country while the brothers have tapped into their football relationships.

Their featured guests have included Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts. And on a recent episode, the Kelces found time to discuss not only football, but also aliens.

Travis: “They’re definitely here.’’

Jason: “They’re here?’’

Travis: “They’re here, for sure. I think they’re either underwater or on Antarctica.’’

Jason: “Why would they be on Antarctica?’’

Travis: “Because nobody’s there.’’

What separates the brothers

Two years aren’t the only thing that separate Jason, 35, and Travis, 33.

Since making it to the NFL, Travis sports eye-catching clothes that include an $18,600 monogrammed Louis Vuitton coat, a yellow zebra-print Celine coat and multicolored dancer faux coat designed by KidSuper.

Jason prefers T-shirts and sweatshirts. He has a lumberjack-bushy beard. Travis keeps his beard fashionably trimmed.

Travis sometimes drips with gaudy jewelry. Jason only drips with sweat.

“I think they’re very similar in a lot of ways,’’ Donna Kelce said. “But Jason’s very pensive and he cares about what people think of him out in the public. So he’ll maybe dial it back a couple of notches, but give him a few beers or put him in front of a crowd in a Mummers outfit and they’re pretty much the same.’’

Donna Kelce was referring to Jason’s epic speech during a team celebration in front of thousands of fans the week after the Eagles won Super Bowl 52. Travis had his own memorable ‘’jabroni’’ rant after the Chiefs beat the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC Championship game Jan. 29.

Meet the parents

By now you probably know about Donna, who wears a custom split jersey, half Eagles and half Chiefs. Less visible has been Ed Kelce, although he got equal billing on the brothers’ 26th podcast episode, which published Monday.

The parents, who divorced about a decade ago, both said they believe in the existence of aliens. Ed, who worked in the steel business, matched his sons’ f-bomb for f-bomb on another podcast filled with laughter.

“What you see on the podcast is what we lived through,’’ Ed Kelce said. “Cohorts in any kind of trouble they could get into.’’

During Monday’s opening night of Super Bowl week, Jason described growing up with Travis as “chaos.’’ 

“But enjoyable chaos,’’ he told reporters. ‘Yeah, I think it was a lot of fun, a lot of broken windows, a lot of shattered things around the house that my parents had to deal with. But man, it was one thing after the other.’

Travis addressed the fights the brothers had with each other growing up.

“Jason won all the fights but one, and that was the last fight,” Travis told reporters on Opening Night. ‘ … I’d be silly to say that I won. But I definitely gave it my all and he stopped fighting me after that.’’ 

Big brother to the rescue

In high school, Travis did not spring out of bed.

“It was you had to set a bomb off in Travis’ room to get his attention,’’ Ed Kelce said.

The job of ensuring Travis made it to school on time, especially when football players had to report by 5:45 a.m. for two-a-days, belonged to Jason.

“Jason would be dragging Travis in here,’’ said Mike Jones, who coached the brothers in high school. “I just always remember Jason making sure Travis was where he was supposed to be and doing what he was supposed to be doing.’’

That became more challenging in college after the brothers joined the football team at Cincinnati.

‘Don’t give up on him, Coach’

Both Kelce brothers got college scholarships to play at Cincinnati. After his second season, Travis had tested positive twice for marijuana, was suspended for a year and lost his scholarship.

He moved into the same room with Jason in hopes his older brother could help him stay out of trouble.

Butch Jones, who took over as the program’s head coach, allowed Travis to practice that year with the scout team. Travis was reinstated before his junior year and suspended again after that season.

“I called Jason and told him that (Travis) was done and that he wasn’t living up to the expectations, he was underachieving,’’ Jones said. “And I still remember to this day, Jason’s like, ‘Coach, you can’t give up on him. Do not give up on him, Coach.

“So Jason and I kind of worked together.’’

That next semester, Jones said, Travis Kelce joked it was the first time in his life he’d posted a 3.0 grade point average. Reinstated to the team, he had a breakout senior year with 45 catches for 722 yards and eight touchdowns.

Jason Kelce, then playing for the Philadelphia Eagles, vouched for his younger brother when the Chiefs selected Travis in the third round of the 2013 draft.

“Everybody talks about brotherly love and all that,’’ Jones said. “I have never been a part of a closeness and a bond like two brothers have like them.’’

This post appeared first on USA TODAY

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