Donna Kelce divided her allegiances in half on Thursday night.
Donna’s oldest son, Jason, is scheduled to start at center for the Philadelphia Eagles, and her youngest son, Travis, is a rookie tight end with the Chiefs. So she took to needle and thread in the city where Betsy Ross stitched the American flag and designed her own creation.
“I took a Kansas City T-shirt and an Eagles T-shirt, split them right down the middle and sewed them up one on each side,” Donna said before Chiefs beat the Eagles 26-16 Thursday night at Lincoln Financial Field.
Jason Kelce, 6 feet 2 and 295 pounds, is in his third season with the Eagles. A sixth-round draft pick from Cincinnati in 2011, the bushy-bearded Kelce started all 16 games as a rookie but is coming back from a season-ending knee injury in the second game of the 2012 season.
Travis, 6-5 and 260, followed his older brother to Cincinnati and was the Chiefs’ third-round pick this year. After a promising start in training camp, he suffered a deep bone bruise in his knee in the third preseason game, played just one snap in the first two regular-season games and was inactive on Thursday.
The Kelce brothers, two years apart, were close but competitive as youngsters.
“There were a lot of fights in the house, a lot of furniture that was broken, a lot of holes in the floor,” Donna Kelce recalled.
“I remember one in particular, I’m not going to say who won or lost, but they were wrestling in the kitchen, and one picked the other up and threw him down on the floor, and the stove literally bounced off the brackets
“I had a Pyrex dish with a casserole in the oven, and it shattered. I was picking out glass from the stove for weeks
“But they always stood behind each other. When they were at school, they had each other’s back, and nobody could say anything about their brother.”
Travis Kelce smiled when asked about the kitchen brawl, but did not declare a victor in that battle.
“I can definitely say that Jason is half of the reason why I’m as athletic as I am, and I’d like to think I had something to do with his athleticism,” Travis said. “A lot of it has to do with genetics and just being a Kelce.”
The brothers come from athletic lineage. Their uncle, Don Blalock, played defensive tackle at Purdue; grandfather Don Blalock played football at Ohio University, and their father, Ed, played high-level rugby in Cleveland, where the boys grew up.
Jason also played hockey and lacrosse at Cleveland Heights High School, while Travis played basketball and baseball.
“Football was the only thing they did together ” Donna said. “The love of the game for football was in both of them.”
They were teammates at Cincinnati in 2009 and 2010 and were inseparable until Jason was drafted by the Eagles.
“We lived in the same house all the way through high school,” Travis said. “Then when I got to college I lived with him all the way through college. I love him. We’re as close (as we can be). If we could be one, we probably would be one.”
Donna Kelce, who now works in the banking industry in Atlanta, has been to the Chiefs’ games in Jacksonville and Kansas City. Other family members in the stands on Thursday night included the players’ father, aunt, uncle and cousin.
Donna was blown away by her first experience at Arrowhead Stadium last week.
“Arrowhead was a fun place,” she said. “It was a blast. I was on the 50-yard line to take some pictures, and my ears were ringing.
“The Eagles fans are just as loud as Kansas City fans, but it’s a different type of stadium.”
Because the Chiefs and Eagles are in different conferences, the Kelce brothers won’t be on opposite sides for at least another four years. Unless they meet in the Super Bowl.
So what kind of outcome was Donna Kelce hoping for on Thursday night?
“All I can ask for is they do their best if Travis gets to play,” she said. “You want them both to have successful years, and that’s what they do, they give 100 percent every time they go out.
“They’ve already fulfilled their dreams by being in the NFL. That’s been a dream of both of theirs for a long, long time.”