For the past few years, it has been clear that the two best — and most entertaining — tight ends in football have been Kansas City Chiefs star Travis Kelce and George Kittle of the San Francisco 49ers. They are both dominant on the field and have loud personalities off it. However, Kelce was recently the subject of some good-natured Twitter hate when fans trolled him for shaving off his beard.
They weren’t the only ones who gave him a hard time, though.
Travis Kelce and George Kittle have significant respect for each other
So far, throughout both of their careers, Kelce and Kittle have helped transform the tight end position in the NFL.
Kittle set a new record for most receiving yards by a tight end in 2018 with 1,377 but later saw Kelce break his mark just two seasons later with 1,416 in 2020. But they aren’t keeping what makes them so successful a secret. In fact, they teamed up with each other and Greg Olsen earlier in 2021 to launch Tight End University, a summit for NFL tight ends to teach and learn from each other.
“That’s the biggest thing for me is to help this position grow,” Kelce said during the 2021 NFL Draft, per Chiefs Wire. “I didn’t have this success and I don’t have all the fun out there on the field without a guy like Tony Gonzalez or Vernon Davis.”
On top of wanting to help their fellow tight ends, Kelce and Kittle both have a tremendous amount of respect for each other.
“The tenacity he plays with, the energy on both sides, both blocking and in the receiving game, and then he’s an animal when he gets the ball in his hands,” Kelce said before Super Bowl 54, per the 49ers’ YouTube.
Kittle also had this to say about Kelce in that same interview: “Other than being the best red-zone threat in football, when you watch his film, how much passion he plays with and how much fun he has in the game. I really think that, watching him on film, he kicked down the door for how good a tight end can actually be.”
While that mutual respect is great, though, it doesn’t keep them from giving each other a hard time.
George Kittle trolled Travis Kelce’s clean-shaven face
Travis Kelce created quite the stir on social media recently when he showed up to Chiefs training camp without his signature beard. So, while he was discussing Tight End University on The Rich Eisen Show, George Kittle gave his reaction to Kelce’s clean-shaven face.
“I changed that to his caller ID pretty quick, not gonna lie,” Kittle said on the Aug. 24 episode. “… I zoomed it in as tight as you can zoom it in, and that’s his caller ID. … It’s beautiful.”
Obviously, Kittle did that to be funny and to give his pal a hard time, but it may also be easier for him to know who’s calling him if he has Kelce’s look-alike, NBA big man Jonas Valanciunas, in his phone.
But all in all, Kelce has taken things like a champ; he even colored a beard on his clean-shaven selfie and made it his profile picture on Twitter. He seems to know it’s OK to make fun of himself every once in a while.
And as long as the new look doesn’t affect his play, Chiefs fans probably don’t care if he has hair on his face or not.
George Kittle vs. Travis Kelce comparison
So, since we have discussed the two at length in this story, let’s compare the stats of the star tight ends.
George Kittle has become a premier blocking tight end for the San Francisco 49ers but has also been a dominant pass-catcher, gaining over 1,000 yards in both 2018 and 2019. He has also earned two Pro Bowl selections through his first four years and was a first-team All-Pro in 2019. In total, the Iowa product has caught 264 passes for 3,579 yards and 14 touchdowns so far in his career.
Travis Kelce, on the other hand, has found success for a long time on the Chiefs. He has gained over 1,000 receiving yards in every season since 2016 and has earned a Pro Bowl selection every year since 2015, earning six total in his career. The former Cincinnati Bearcat has also been a first-team All-Pro three times and, as mentioned earlier, holds the single-season record for receiving yards by a tight end. Kelce, who has been in the NFL since 2013, has 612 career catches for 7,881 yards and 48 touchdowns.
Both Kittle and Kelce are truly incredible. But no matter who goes down as the better tight end when their careers are over, they have proven they are absolute superstars.
Stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference