Along the way, Kelce picked up a reality TV dating series and, on Friday, a five-year contract extension worth $46 million from the Chiefs. Kelce is now one of the NFL’s highest-paid players at his position.
“I’m living the dream, literally," Kelce said. “It’s just getting better and better."
The Chiefs made a significant commitment to Kelce. The contract he signed as a third-round pick in 2013 still has one more season to go.
But they apparently learned their lesson from the financial beating they took last year with linebacker Justin Houston. Instead of locking Houston up a year early, they had to make him their franchise player and eventually sign him to the richest contract in team history.
Kelce’s contract won’t be that, but he still comes at a cost. The Chiefs reportedly gave him a signing bonus of almost $10 million.
It’s now on Kelce to make it work, something he seemed to realize. He thanked Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt, Andy Reid and the coach's staff, and general manager John Dorsey, among others.
“These guys believed in me enough when I got drafted and are still behind me every step of the way," Kelce said. “I can’t thank them enough. I can’t thank the players I play with enough. I’m a very thankful person right now. It’s hard to bring all of this to reality.
“With all of this comes a lot of responsibility, and right now I’m more motivated than ever to go out there and be a dominant performer on the field for the Chiefs for many years to come."
The Chiefs gave Kelce plenty of financial reason to stay in Kansas City. He also has built a strong bond with the city during his three seasons here. Kelce is involved in the community and recently was named as role model of the year for 2015 by the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Kansas City.
“I love Kansas City to death," he said. “I’ve embraced it ever since I got there. The community absolutely loves the Chiefs. It’s a blue-collar city, just like the one I grew up in [Cleveland]. I can’t be thankful enough for how they embraced me as a player. It’s an exciting day."
Kelce will play in the Pro Bowl on Sunday for the first time and then begin work on his TV venture, “Catching Kelce." Eight episodes of the reality dating show are scheduled to run on E! later this year.
Kelce wouldn’t elaborate on his TV show, saying he was having a hard time getting his mind off what was for him the week’s biggest event:
“Right now, I’m just trying to stay focused on signing and keeping everything going in Kansas City," Kelce said. “I’d rather not get into the whole TV show. I’m going to kind of let that play out and let that be what it is.
“It’s just not on my mind, to be honest. I’m still trying to bring it to reality that I’m going to be a multimillionaire."