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Appreciate Travis Kelce While He's Playing: The Chiefs' Tight End is an All-Time Great

An elite performance from the NFL's best tight end told us something we should have already known: he's one of the best overall pass-catching threats the game has ever seen.

In case you missed the memo, Travis Kelce is the best tight end in all of football. It isn't a debate. Even referring to him as a tight end feels like selling him short. He's not just one of the best tight ends in NFL history, he's one of the game's all-time greatest pass-catching threats.

Kelce is a game-wrecker and a lethal weapon for the Kansas City Chiefs, and a downright horrifying sight for opposing defenses. A true matchup nightmare, players measuring up at 6'5" and weighing 260 pounds shouldn't be allowed to move the way Kelce can. It simply is not fair. 

Despite having turned 31 years old on October 5, Kelce is in the middle of what could turn out to be the best season of his career. Through nine games, the two-time All-Pro ranks third in the NFL in receiving yards (769) and yards after the catch (361). He also has six touchdowns, topping the five he had all of last season. His chemistry with quarterback Patrick Mahomes is off the charts. Somehow, though, Kelce deserves even more respect.  

Heading into Sunday's win over the Carolina Panthers, Kelce's name was atop the leaderboards in several other statistical categories. He led all tight ends with at least 200 snaps played in Pro Football Focus' grades for run blocking (79.5), receiving (89.6), and overall offense (90.3), putting up better grades than he ever has. His level of play isn't just elite — it's all-time great. 

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One of the main points of the George Kittle/Kelce debate for the game's best tight end was centered around run blocking. Kittle received rave reviews for his prowess in that area, while Kelce's quality performances were overlooked. Now, with the 49ers' best offensive player being banged up for most of this season and the Chiefs' leading receiver taking his game to another level, that conversation is over. With that, a new one should begin. It's time to give Kelce his flowers while he's still playing at such an exceptional level.

Assuming he remains healthy for the remainder of this season, Kelce will have his fifth-consecutive 1,000-yard season. Heck, if he keeps playing like he has for the past two weeks (109 and 159 receiving yards, respectively), it won't take seven more games to get there. It's a near-lock that the NFL's longest streak that measures tight end greatness will be extended by yet another year. We've never seen anything like it, and we may never see it again. Seriously.

Sure, Rob Gronkowski has a 17-touchdown season on his resume. He also had the physical gifts to be the best tight end ever. Health wasn't working in his favor, though. It is for Kelce. Chiefs legend and perhaps the current owner of the "GOAT" crown at the position, Tony Gonzalez, topped 1,000 yards four times in his 17-year career. The fact that Kelce has done it that many times in a row while competing for catches with other generational talents like Tyreek Hill is brilliant. It's astonishing. It's mind-boggling — and Kelce doesn't seem to be slowing down any time soon. 

Kelce is healthy. He's consistently great. His unique physical gifts — supreme agility mixed with great speed and size that makes him virtually impossible to cover individually — are still at their peak. Even when those traits inevitably begin to decline, he's shown that he can refine his technique enough to make up for most of the difference. Oh yeah, he's also under contract to play with Mahomes until the end of the 2025 season.

Acknowledge and enjoy this while it lasts. Kelce solidified his spot as the premier tight end in the NFL, but it's time to think even bigger. He's one of the best receiving threats this league currently has and by the time his already-amazing career comes to a close, he'll go down as a player future generations will aim to model their games after. In the midst of a special time to be a Chiefs fan, don't forget to realize the magnitude of a special talent performing as well as Kelce is.