Three days after tossing aside Ravens kicker Justin Tucker’s helmet, practice footballs and kicking tripod during pregame warmups at Sunday’s AFC championship game, Kansas Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce was back to defending his turf.
On an episode of his “New Heights” podcast released Wednesday, Kelce expressed amusement at how he’d been depicted as the “bad guy” for removing Tucker’s gear from an area where quarterback Patrick Mahomes was warming up more than an hour before kickoff.
Tucker said Monday that he’d “never had an issue with anybody” while stretching before in an opponent’s “designated warmup area.”
“If you’re trying to go on to the other team’s designated area, you kind of stay out of their way, you know?” Kelce said. “You don’t interfere with what they have going on. That’s the unwritten rule. If you want to be a f------ dick about it, you keep your helmet and your football and your f------ kicking tee right where the quarterbacks are warming up. And they’re dropping, eyes are looking left, and they’ve got a helmet down by their feet. ...
“Like, if you’re not going to pick that up, I’ll happily move that for you.”
Kelce said that Tucker was “kind of winking at me” and “trying to get under the skin” during the incident. But Kelce said he and Mahomes “weren’t in a joking mood.”
“We were ready to get after it,” said Kelce, who had a game-high 11 catches for 116 yards and a touchdown in the Chiefs’ 17-10 win. “So, Justin, sorry if we took it to a level that you didn’t think it’d get to that way, but if you’re going to be a dick, I promise you, I can one-up you every time, dude.”
On Tuesday, Mahomes said on 610 Sports Radio in Kansas City, Missouri, that the only games over his career in which a kicker hasn’t moved “out of the way” during his pregame routine were in Baltimore.
Tucker “does that little stuff, I think, to try get under our skin,” Mahomes said. “I asked him to move his stuff and he got up and moved it, I think, 2 inches but didn’t move it out of the way. I was going to kind of let it slide, but Travis kind of got in and moved it for me, and after that, I wasn’t going to let him put it back down. ...
“I have a lot of respect for him as a player and as a kicker. One of the best kickers of all time, probably the best kicker of all time. But at the same time, you’ve got to have respect for each team. We all share the field and we try to do that in a respectful way.”
Like Tucker, Mahomes downplayed the significance of the incident, saying it’s become “a bigger deal than I think it actually was.”