We live in a time when sports documentaries profiling our favorite athletes are often viewed through the prism of skepticism. You speculate about motivations, biases, and spin. Are we seeing unvarnished truth or an antiseptic packaged version of the truth? However, even the most hardcore cynic can’t help but be charmed by the Kelce brothers.
Center Jason Kelce is the focus of Prime Video’s new documentary Kelce, but you also get a healthy dose of his younger sibling tight end Travis Kelce. This 102-minute film chronicles Jason’s 2022 season, highlighted by him mulling over retirement and the Kelces becoming the first brothers to face each other in the Super Bowl.
There’s no mystery here. We know the outcomes. Travis’ Kansas City Chiefs won, and Jason is back for his 13th year with the Philadelphia Eagles. But what makes Kelce work is the sheer authenticity of brotherly love. The appeal of Jason and Travis is that they seem like regular guys you could hang out with. It’s their brand, and they’ve turned that image into a growing media business, which includes their successful podcast New Heights with Jason and Travis Kelce. Travis even hosted Saturday Night Live, a rarity for a non-quarterback.
This documentary, a product of the NFL’s joint venture with Skydance Sports, might be the next evolution of the Kelce brand. Director Don Argott got significant access to Jason, the father of two young daughters with another on the way during the 2022 season. We see him grappling over whether or not to call it quits. The 35-year-old requires anti-inflammatories just to be able to play on game day.
Jason is also mindful of CTE. In one sobering scene, he acknowledges his fear of the long-term impact of football, saying: “I’ve thought about this. It’s destroying my body. With the amount of headshots I take on a game basis, weekly basis, monthly basis, who knows if or when that’s going to come back to bite me.”
What is also clear is how much Travis appreciates his older brother who helped him after Travis was kicked off the University of Cincinnati football team for testing positive for marijuana. Without Jason’s influence, one of the greatest tight ends in league history might not have reached the NFL. In Kelce, Travis Kelce says: “There was some tough-brother **** that I just had to hear. I knew my brother had gone to the coaches and said ‘If you give him a second chance, he won’t screw it up.’ He put his word on the line.”
As compelling as the Kelce brothers are, much of the attention during Super Bowl week went to Mama Kelce. That’s understandable. Donna Kelce raised two Super Bowl champions and two future Hall of Famers. However, Kelce turns the spotlight on Jason’s wife Kylie. In many ways, she shines brightest.
Viewers will enjoy listening to Kylie recalling how Jason and her met. If you’re not familiar with the details, it’s an unbelievably funny and cute romcom-worthy story. The Hallmark Channel should negotiate for the movie rights.
The documentary also focuses on Kylie dealing with the logistics of bringing her OB-GYN to the Super Bowl because she was 38 weeks pregnant. Being an expectant mother can be stressful enough but imagine the possibility of going into labor during a worldwide television event. The couple’s third daughter was born almost two weeks later.
The best compliment you can give Kelce is that it never feels contrived. In that respect, it’s on brand for the most famous siblings in the NFL.
Kelce premieres Tuesday on Prime Video.