EASTLAKE, Ohio — Cleveland Heights native and Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce was back in town to participate in the Jarvis Landry Celebrity Softball Game at Captains Stadium in Eastlake.
"I'm at home but it's still enemy territory, it's so weird. It's a weird feeling," Kelce said.
Despite playing for one of the Browns' AFC competitors, Kelce said that Cleveland will always have a place in his heart—as will the Browns, who he grew up watching as a kid in Cleveland Heights.
"I've always had a special spot in my heart for the Browns," Kelce said. "It's an awesome atmosphere, the sports town is like no other. Cleveland, I grew up in and I am a part of this sports town."
Kelce's passion for all things Cleveland has never left him, even as he sets records and dominates with the Chiefs 800 miles away from home.
"I bleed everything 216," Kelce said.
While the hometown kid plays for a competitor, Kelce said his friends and family back here in Northeast Ohio still pull for the Browns—even when Kelce is playing them.
"Even when I'm playing against the Browns, they're rooting for the Browns, whether they're family or not. It's a fun rivalry," Kelce said. "I don't know if the teams are rivals but I know in my heart I always have a little more to play for when I play Cleveland."
Although they just faced each other in the AFC Divisional Round of the playoffs last season and open the 2021 season against them, Kelce isn't quite ready to call the Browns rivals—although he does see the threat they pose.
"I would say they're definitely a contender without a doubt. It's definitely there," Kelce said. "Baker [Mayfield] and the gang have upped the ante and made this team an unbelievable team and a team you have to prepare for and take serious. I think moving forward, without a doubt, I can see a lot more playoff games between us."
Kelce went on to say the Browns and Chiefs are "neck and neck."
How close the two teams are, competitively speaking, will be better seen on Sept. 12 when the Browns and Chiefs start their seasons against each other at Arrowhead Stadium—something Kelce is very much looking forward to.
"What better way than to start off against my hometown team, the team that I've watched since I was a little kid and cheered for my entire life," Kelce said. "But you know how it goes, I'm a Chief right now, good luck to all the Brownies out there."
Kelce is excited for what the Browns have become and what they may be able to do, even though he may have to go through them to advance in the postseason for years to come.
"It's impressive, and it's impressive to see where they've come from and where they are now because they're literally a legit contender," Kelce said.
Camryn Justice is a digital content producer at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Twitter @camijustice.
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