The Travis Kelce-Andy Reid relationship can withstand a shouting match – The Washington Post

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LAS VEGAS — The last time the Kansas City Chiefs lost a game, Travis Kelce and Andy Reid engaged in a physical confrontation more intense than the Super Bowl bump seen around the world. It wasn’t that shocking, however, because the 65-year-old coach was the aggressor.

In a Christmas Day home game against the Las Vegas Raiders, the Chiefs were such a mess on offense that Reid called a fake punt play that didn’t involve Kelce. It actually worked. Punter Tommy Townsend threw a pass down the sideline for the first down. But Kelce was frustrated. He slammed his helmet on the Arrowhead Stadium turf. A staff member picked it up and went to bring it back to Kelce, but as he raised it in the air to alert the superstar tight end, Reid snatched it out of his hand like a shot blocker skillful. Then the coach walked toward Kelce without a helmet, scolded the player and ended the conflict by ramming his right shoulder into Kelce’s left side. Unlike Sunday evening, it was Kelce who lost his balance. Reid stormed off and Patrick Mahomes patted Kelce on the stomach to calm him down.

Chiefs then lost for the fourth time in six games, their longest slump during this trophy hoarding period. And Kelce-Reid I was just the most heated skirmish in a tumultuous celebration in which Mahomes humiliated his offensive line in a screaming sideline meltdown. The next day, many wondered if all the bickering confirmed that they were finally broken.

They haven’t lost since.

During Super Bowl LVIII, more than 100 million viewers watched Kelce-Reid II and freaked out, as 100 million people with different values ​​and tolerance levels tend to do. Kelce screamed and made contact with Reid, who stumbled two steps.

“He knocked me off balance,” Reid said, implying that slow-motion replays of the incident made the incident seem worse than it actually was. “I wasn’t looking. He really came [to tell me], ‘Put me in, I’ll score. I’m going to score. So that’s really what it was. I like this. It is not the first time. I appreciate it.

For Reid and Kelce, it was over. But the jurors on this stage have a demanding moral compass.

Coming off a 25-22 overtime triumph that set even neutral hearts racing, Kansas City couldn’t just celebrate a dynasty-affirming victory over the San Francisco 49ers. The conversation couldn’t end with a contemplation of the greatness of Patrick Mahomes, whose boundless talent gains substance and nuance each season. The praise for the Chiefs’ stellar defense and magnificent roster management had to wait. And Kelce’s romance with Taylor Swift, a relationship made in pop culture heaven, now came with a sidebar.

Is Swift in love with a crazy person?

Should his vast and protective tribe be worried?

Meanwhile, in our sadistically divided nation, the rest of America has handled the situation very poorly. Everyone seeks their own disgusted view of the country in everything, and our biggest annual sporting event provided the perfect canvas for grievances. If Kelce were black, would the thug accusations be stronger? If he wasn’t a proponent of the coronavirus vaccine, would the crowd doing their own research scrutinize him as much? Somehow, a football player’s anger has become as much a point of political contention as a societal concern about anger management.

Kelce was the first to do evil, and when you’re caught raging at the Super Bowl, it becomes more than a pretty typical football argument. It is important to have an in-depth conversation about inappropriate and caricatured male anger and behavior. But this incident is not the Swiss army knife to make a larger point.

Some of the extreme outrage is akin to the anger Kelce showed on Sunday. However, Kelce took a step back, pulled himself together, played his best football in the second half and helped his team win a third championship in five seasons. And Reid saw the bigger picture. He is a coach who sees beyond flaws and who enjoys managing complicated relationships. He often gets the best out of his players by welcoming them as individuals without barking for them to conform.

Tragedy taught him to connect in this way. He is a father who has experienced the heartbreak of addiction with two of his sons. His oldest, Garrett, died of an overdose 12 years ago. Another son, Britt, was sentenced to three years in prison in 2022 for driving drunk and injuring a 5-year-old girl. Time and pain have transformed Reid into a man who coaches like a father who aspires to continue improving his leadership.

“He’s one of the best leaders of men I’ve ever seen in my life,” Kelce said. “And he helped me a lot with that, to channel that emotion, to channel that passion. I owe my entire career to this guy and I’m able to control how emotional I get. I just love him.”

Reid and Kelce have been together since 2013, forming one of the strongest head coach-star player relationships in the NFL. At the University of Cincinnati, he failed a drug test for marijuana and served a suspension for the entire 2010 season. Reid, who epitomizes tough love, was a key figure in his maturation into a transcendent player who, at 34, plans to lead a successful life after football, regardless of whether his relationship with Swift lasts.

“I’m someone who’s done some things, who might have been considered a lost cannon early in my career,” Kelce told me four years ago, reflecting before his first Super Bowl. “This organization does an incredible job of helping guys discover who they are as professionals and as people, and we learn how to deal with that.”

Yet he stumbles. Or, in this case, he tripped Reid. In football, there is often an excessive need to promote the virtues of a violent game. Listen enough to the talk about the teamwork, discipline, and attention to detail that sports demand and how it shapes boys into men, and you start to forget that it’s also about a vicious and debilitating game with a 100% injury rate.

They’re not all crazy. But they act crazy out of necessity. It is inevitable that this type of fire will sometimes get out of control. This happened on Sunday, but it also happened six weeks before. And in previous seasons, prodigy Mahomes was caught yelling at Reid and barking almost nose-to-nose with Eric Bieniemy, his fiery former offensive coordinator.

But this is a dynasty that can absorb confrontation, that can overcome the ugly side of football. It says a lot about the Chiefs’ character: They can show their worst and still find a way to get back to their best.

“It’s not a selfish thing,” Reid said of Kelce. ” It’s not that. I understand that. Even if he pushes me, I pursue him and we understand him.

We make them role models because they win. But winning is sometimes a ruthless quest.

When Kelce saw Swift on the field after the game, he asked her a question.

“Was it electric?” he wondered.

“It was amazing,” Swift replied. “One of the craziest things I’ve ever experienced!” »

From her seats at Allegiant Stadium, where she had a drink and hugged Blake Lively, she probably had no idea about Kelce-Reid II. While the Chiefs celebrated, there was no indication of an ongoing problem.

Cameras did not capture Kelce apologizing and hugging Reid shortly after the incident. But on stage during the Lombardi Trophy presentation, you could see the love that the two men spoke about afterwards. Kelce hugged Reid from behind. The coach didn’t trip this time. He also didn’t drive his shoulder into the tight end. He reached out and patted him to show his appreciation.

More than two hours after Kelce’s misstep went viral, all was well in the land of the Chiefs dynasty. There was no anger left, only disingenuous indignation from those who confuse passion with malice.

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