Since becoming a starter in 2014, Kelce, 34, has missed just four of a possible 155 regular-season games and has played in 18 additional playoff contests – basically one additional season in sum – during that span. But despite that durability, he has undergone nearly a dozen surgeries.
"That’s the only thing I’ve never really been open about," said Kelce, who's always taken pride in being available for his teammates. "The pain. The lingering injuries – the 10 surgeries I’ve had that I still feel every single surgery to this day."
A knee injury kept him out of this season's regular-season opener against the Detroit Lions on Sept. 7. But he hasn't missed a game since, including Monday night's hyped Super Bowl 57 rematch with the Philadelphia Eagles and brother Jason Kelce, while maintaining his perennial Pro Bowl form. Travis Kelce has also dealt with concussions and issues with his shoulder, back and ankle.
Kelce caught seven passes for 44 yards and a TD in Monday night's 21-17 loss to Philly. He now has 64 receptions for 641 yards, on track for his eighth consecutive 1,000-yard receiving season. No other tight end in NFL history has more than three in a row. For his career, Kelce owns 878 catches for 10,985 yards and 74 TDs, all near the top of the all-time tight end leaderboards. During postseason, Kelce has 133 grabs for 1,548 yards and 16 scores − all records at his position that trail only Hall of Fame wideout Jerry Rice overall.
Kelce crossed over from NFL luminary to pop stardom this year after forging a relationship with Swift, already an iconic megastar. He's also dabbled in media, starring in the "New Heights" podcast with his brother, done a string of commercials and guest hosted an episode of "Saturday Night Live."
Kelce was asked during a minicamp last June how long he intended to continue playing football.
"Until the wheels fall off, baby," he said at the time. "I love this game, and I know I’m going to miss it when I’m done playing.
“But right now, I’m in this building wanting to win football games, man.”
Jason Kelce, 36, drafted by the Eagles in 2011, has also mulled retirement and repeatedly said he's now taking his own Canton-caliber career one season at a time. He documented his own battles with football injuries in the Amazon documentary "Kelce."
Follow USA TODAY Sports' Nate Davis on X, formerly Twitter @ByNateDavis.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Travis Kelce weighs retirement 'more than anyone could ever imagine'