Spotlight remains on Travis Kelce as Chiefs kick off NFL season

Travis Kelce, All-Pro tight end for the Kansas City Chiefs, got a jarring reminder this week why cultivating a second career is a good idea.

While preparing for the kickoff opener against the Detroit Lions on Thursday, Kelce suffered a hyperextended knee in practice. Although initial reports have been promising and the injury doesn’t look to be severe, it’s unclear how much Kelce will be able to play, if at all.

The Chiefs have won eight consecutive kickoff weekend games, the NFL’s longest active streak. They have a long way to go to match the feat of the Dallas Cowboys, who won 16 openers in a row between 1966-81.

The injury to Kelce was an untimely development for someone with otherwise uncanny timing.

More than simply the favorite target of quarterback Patrick Mahomes, Kelce is fine-tuning his comedic chops, hosting “Saturday Night Live” in the spring and flashing that made-for-TV smile in commercials that will air throughout this football season. He and his older brother, Jason, center for the Philadelphia Eagles, co-host “New Heights,” a podcast that bills itself as “football’s funniest family duo.”

Peyton and Eli Manning might have something to say about that, but there’s no doubt that Travis Kelce is adhering to the Manning map, and certainly in his saturation of the marketplace.

“I feel like I’ve watched from afar, and I’ve been very fortunate to kind of have worked with Omaha Productions,” said Kelce, 33, referring to Peyton Manning’s path and production company. “I’ve been on the Manningcast. I’ve seen Peyton host the ESPYs, do all this fun stuff, host ‘Saturday Night Live.’ He kind of gave me a mentor’s heads up about what ‘SNL’ was, the week before and how you’ve got to kind of buckle your seat belt and be one with them and trust the process.”

Kelce spoke with the Los Angeles Times earlier this summer in his star trailer, around the corner from a commercial shoot in Studio City. This job was one of multiple he has done as the centerpiece of DirecTV’s “Overly Direct” campaign, highlighting his wisecracking sarcasm.

In this particular ad, the bearded Kelce stood in a football fan’s living room, simultaneously trying to watch a game while shooing away a pesky cable installer, who was peering through the window and reaching into the popcorn bowl. With each take, Kelce offered a different ad-libbed comment.

“I like taking direction and being coached up,” Kelce said later, referring to the instructions he got on set. “I’ve had fun with this. I’ve got some experience with it now, but I’m still learning the ins and outs of it.”

Fix it in post-production? Nobody knows post production like Kelce, who also runs crisp slants, hitches and go routes. It’s no secret why he’s always among the first players selected in fantasy drafts. He has 10,344 yards and 69 touchdowns in 10 seasons and has solidified his Hall-of-Fame credentials.

He needs two catches to surpass the career mark of Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe (815) for the fourth-most by a tight end in league history. Former Chiefs and Atlanta Falcons star Tony Gonzalez has a healthy lead on the field with 1,325 receptions.

Kelce isn’t showing signs of slowing. He’s coming off a career-high 110 receptions last season.

“I’m always trying to be a step ahead on the football field,” he said. “I put in so much work during the week to try to figure out a defense. … I feel like it’s very similar in the acting world because if you’re in full understanding of the entire image that you’re trying to portray, you can always be a step ahead when it comes to the direction that everybody wants to go.”

Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce signs autographs during training camp.

Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce was getting plenty of attention at training camp too.

(Charlie Riedel / Associated Press)

Kelce made some headlines this summer when he was embroiled in a couple of brawls during practice and when he revealed on his podcast that he was unsuccessful in his attempt to slip Taylor Swift his phone number. He had hoped to pass her some friendship bracelets with his digits on them. Talk about overly direct.

But one of his highlights of the spring was hosting “SNL,” and he was a natural. He was most surprised that they started with roughly 40 skits at a table read early in the week before eliminating three-quarters of them for the final version.

“It’s an unbelievable machine that they have going on at 30 Rock, and Lorne Michaels from what everyone says hasn’t changed a thing,” he said of the show’s famed studio and producer. “It feels like you go back in time a little bit. You’re reading off of cue cards and the stage and the auditorium that you’re in feels like it hasn’t been touched since the ‘80s or ‘90s.

“When you’re on the actual stage doing the monologue, that stage, the boards look like they haven’t been touched, like they haven’t juiced up this place at all since they started. You can feel the history in there. You can feel how many unbelievable nights they’ve had in that place.”

For Kelce it’s about double vision. Two passions. Two careers, one of which will end in Canton.

Hollywood and bust.