ANDY REID WAS aiming to share some of his wisdom with the Kansas City Chiefs in their locker room during the AFC Championship Game.
He couldn't finish his message because Travis Kelce intervened each time.
"Travis would just cut him off with a big yell and say, 'Yeah, sounds about right, let's go,'" linebacker Drue Tranquill said.
Kelce doesn't necessarily interrupt Reid every week. He was just as amped as ever for the game against the Baltimore Ravens. During the week, he said he wanted the Chiefs to win as much as he has ever wanted a victory.
His actions on game day suggested those words weren't hollow. He egged on the Baltimore crowd when he was booed during warmups. He tossed Justin Tucker's equipment when he felt the Ravens kicker invaded the pregame space of Patrick Mahomes.
He put on one of the best performances of his career with 11 catches for 116 yards and the game's first touchdown. After the game, which the Chiefs won 17-10 to vault them into Super Bowl LVIII against the San Francisco 49ers, he shared an emotional hug with his brother Jason on the field and high-fived Chiefs fans.
It was an extreme display for anyone, Kelce included. But Kelce is always the Chiefs' energy source.
"I think it brings a ton," Mahomes said. "It's the energy. People don't even see it at practice. The energy that he has ... we have to get him out of practice just to give him a rest and he wants to be out there for every single play.
"That mindset, when you see the Hall of Fame tight end and he wants to be the guy working the hardest, it raises everybody's standard. It raises the standard of how you practice. It raises the standards of how you prepare because you know that guy that's done it at the top level wants to continue to do it every single week, every single day. At the same time, he has a great time doing it. That shows that you can work extremely hard and still have fun coming to work every single day."
KELCE ENTERED THE season already one of the NFL's most high-profile players, the top receiver on a two-time Super Bowl-winning team. Then his relationship with Taylor Swift catapulted him into another realm of fame.
Kelce was on pace to have one of his better seasons. He had a three-game stretch early in the season with 31 catches, 370 yards and 2 touchdowns.
He slumped along with the Chiefs after that and failed to reach 1,000 yards for the first time in eight seasons. That led to suggestions from the outside that he was no longer dialed in to football.
"I'd be silly to say that I didn't notice," Kelce said. "Obviously how I live my off-field life ... I brought this on myself and I do enjoy having fun with it all and the biggest thing is making sure my focus is right here in this building."
Swift, who won a Grammy for Album of the Year for the fourth time on Sunday and is in the middle of a sold-out world tour, has offered Kelce advice on how to handle the increased scrutiny.
"The only thing we talk about is as long as we're happy you can't listen to anything that's outside noise," Kelce said.
AS HE INCHES closer to the end of his career, now in its 11th season, Kelce has looked for ways to contribute other than just by catching passes. He wants to have an impact even when he's not having a big game like the one in Baltimore.
He tries to do that by showing his teammates the way. Mahomes is the voice everyone in the locker room listens to. He's the one who delivers the message to the Chiefs as they go on the field for warmups and when they leave afterward.
Kelce will talk, too, but prefers actions over words.
"It is a challenge to find new ways to have success and I think that's what this year has brought for me is that obstacle and figuring out how I can get the best out of myself, figure out how I can get the best out of my teammates and all at the same time," Kelce said. "Being a great leader, bringing that energy for the young guys, the type of determined mindset you got to have week in, week out.
"And you know what, man? I love that challenge. I was talking to my brother the other day on the podcast. There are certain things that give you challenges in life that you just got to be appreciative that you're getting tested because not everybody gets those opportunities."
The AFC Championship Game, with a fourth Super Bowl appearance in five seasons on the line for the Chiefs, was one of those opportunities. Kelce said his extra energy started early in the week, when he began watching video of the Ravens' defense, which allowed fewer points than any other in the regular season.
Kelce said he saw the Ravens imposing their will on opponents and he was trying to show his teammates they would need to match it.
Tranquill wasn't the only Chiefs player to notice a difference in Kelce that week.
"He's one of those guys that loves the challenge," Mahomes said. "We heard about how great their defense was and they were. They shut us out in the second half, but for Travis that's like, 'All right, what can I do against this great defense?' He has that mindset and he led us like that.
"When the lights get brighter, he plays better. And that's the true mark of a champion, and that's what he is."
Reid didn't seem to mind the locker room intrusion from Kelce in Baltimore. The two have had some battles over the years but Reid is aware of what Kelce brings to the Chiefs beyond his playing ability.
"Travis is always fired up," Reid said. "For the playoffs, even more so. I never worry about him not being ready to go. He's always right there and brings that emotion, that secure feeling that we're going to go get this thing no matter what.
"I appreciate his attitude, always."
Reid appreciates it enough to yield the stage to Kelce in one of the biggest games of the year.
"I don't think I was cutting him off," Kelce said. "I think I was just maybe beating him to the punch, getting everybody fired up. I was just excited and trying to channel that energy and make sure everybody heard me."