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Donna Kelce is the famous NFL mom of Kansas City Chiefs' tight end Travis Kelce and Philadelphia Eagles' center Jason Kelce. She spoke to TODAY.com about her sons' careers and her own journey.Cooper Neill / Getty Images

Before Jason Kelce announced his retirement, mom Donna Kelce talked to?us?about his career

And, she tells TODAY.com what she did when Jason and Travis Kelce fought as kids.

/ Source: TODAY

Before her son Jason Kelce told his teammates he was retiring from football, Donna Kelce reflected on what made the Philadelphia Eagles center so great.

She focused not on his status as a likely future Hall of Famer, but the heart he brought to the game – and how much his team's city loves him.

"It’s exciting to see how Philadelphia has embraced him," Donna Kelce, the mom of brothers Jason and Travis Kelce, said in an interview with TODAY.com before Jason announced his retirement. "Jason is a special individual, where, you know, somebody telling him he can’t do it is a fire that drives him."

Jason Kelce's retirement

After the Philadelphia Eagles' season-ending 32-9 playoff loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Jan. 15, Jason Kelce told his teammates that he has decided to retire, the NFL confirmed.

Younger brother Travis Kelce, a tight end for the Kansas City Chiefs who is dating Taylor Swift, is still in Super Bowl contention.

"I just am really, really thrilled that both cities really feel very attached to both Jason and Travis," Donna Kelce says, reflecting on her sons' NFL careers. "They’re very much larger-than-life human beings that attract really great people all around them. It’s really fun."

When Travis and Jason Kelce fought ...

Despite the headlines, the viral recipes and of course, pictures with Taylor Swift, Donna Kelce insists: She's just a mom.

In a wide-ranging interview with TODAY.com, the woman known as "Mama Kelce" talked about what it was like raising two professional athletes who were "a handful" growing up.

Her secret for getting them to settle down and stop fighting back then? Just one word: "Dad!"

Once they got to a certain size, I couldn't do anything.

Donna Kelce on sons Jason and travis fighting when they were kids

"That was it," she tells TODAY.com. "Once they got to a certain size, I couldn't do anything."

The brothers have "always been close," she says.

"If somebody said something bad about their brother, they would be the first to defend them," she says.

But they also felt a sense of "sibling rivalry" growing up.

"There just is, you're constantly fighting in the pecking order, and that's just the way families are," she says. "I think a lot of people try to stop that. But some of it's kind of good because you get to understand how to relate to people."

They stopped physically fighting when they were in high school.

"Once they were the same height and the same weight, it was done, because it was equal, and they were going to hurt each other," she says. "There's always one fight, and it's the last one."

Mother Donna Kelce brings cookies to her son's Jason Kelce and Travis Kelce.
Donna Kelce brings cookies to her sons Jason Kelce and Travis Kelce during the 2023 Super Bowl opening night.Christian Petersen / Getty Images

Travis Kelce and the Chiefs won their first playoff game on Jan. 13, beating the Miami Dolphins 26-7. The next day, the Eagles were knocked out of the playoffs.

Donna Kelce attended both games.

Tailgating, Taylor Swift and the paparazzi

To celebrate the football postseason, Donna Kelce is partnering with Heluva Good! dips for a big game countdown calendar with seven days of recipes — including one of her own. After all, the key to a successful tailgate is the food, she says.

Partnerships like this one are just one of the ways the famous NFL mom has interacted with fans directly.

"Everybody that's come up to me has been very gracious, very supportive, and they tell me that they love my boys," she says. "What mom doesn't want to hear that?"

Donna Kelce has partnered with Heluva Good! Dip to create a limited-edition calendar helping fans count down to the Big Game.
Donna Kelce, who knows a thing or two about tailgating and food, partnered with Heluva Good! Dip to create a calendar helping fans count down to the Big Game.Courteous Heluva Good!

Her sons first started playing sports when they were 3 years old, beginning with soccer. By this point, she says she doesn't get nervous before their games.

"It's just second nature. This is just a part of their life. I enjoy it. I have fun," she says. "There's no ritual, really. I'm not very superstitious."

She does have one consistent game-day habit.

"I like to let them know that I'll be watching and wish them good luck," she says.

Even looking back on their first playoff games, Jason's in 2013 and Travis' in 2016 — she remembered feeling more "surprised."

"When they were growing up, they were on teams in high school that weren't really winning teams, so it was very exciting," she says.

She's described the year of 2023 —?which started with their Super Bowl runs and ended with her son Travis's relationship with Taylor Swift —?as a "great ride."

It's kind of funny that they're following an old lady ... It's obviously because of my boys and who they know.

donna kelce on having her photo taken at her sons' football games

Partying with celebrities appears common for Donna Kelce, like when she and Swift went viral for rocking along to a stadium-wide swag surf at the Chiefs-Dolphins playoff game on Jan. 13.

Swift's attendance often points the cameras in her direction during the games and occasionally, by proximity, Donna Kelce.

"It's kind of funny that they're following an old lady," she jokes. "But it's obviously because of my boys and who they know, so I totally understand the glamour about it, but I'm just a regular mom like everybody else."

Taylor Swift and Donna Kelce at the Kansas City Chiefs and the Denver Broncos at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium on Oct. 12, 2023 in Kansas City, Missouri.
Taylor Swift and Donna Kelce talk at the Chiefs-Broncos game at Arrowhead Stadium Oct. 12.David Eulitt / Getty Images

She says she's encountered a lot of "characters" through her sons' famous football friends.

"Big personalities — very much a love of life, very animated, lots of great stories because of who they've met and the individuals that they've been around," she says. "There's just a myriad of stories all the time that are sometimes heartbreakers and sometimes just the funniest things.

"So that's been my greatest gift, is to be able to share that with them, with some of their players," she adds.

I wish I could say that I was a mom that painstakingly made snacks and brought them, but I didn’t. I bought them all.

donna kelce on bringing "team snacks" when her football-playing sons were young

That friendship also extends to her fellow NFL moms.

"They're just amazing human beings," she says. "I know what they've had to go through, and there's kind of a kinship that we have with each other, if you do get to meet them."

It's an automatic connection rooted in shared sacrifice.

"We all know how hard we were working when they were younger and trying to make ends meet, because it's expensive," she says.

What feeding the Kelce boys was like

When asked how much time she's spent either preparing for or at her sons' games, Donna Kelce says it's incalculable.

"I can't even think about it, there were very few days that we weren’t doing something," she says. "So I don't know —?30 years times at least one or two hours a day."

Donna Kelce worked in banking while her sons were growing up.

"I wish I could say that I was a mom that painstakingly made snacks and brought them, but I didn’t," she says. "I bought them all."

"They were the marshmallow treats, they were gummies, they were this, they were that?—?whatever I could give them a little bit more energy, and then we'd go out and eat a huge meal afterwards."

When they went to college, she says it felt like she "got a raise" due to how much her grocery bill shrank.

"It's just constant grazing. You fix a huge meal ... and they would be hungry an hour later," she says.

Donna Kelce's 'grandma name'

The relationship between the NFL moms doesn't compare to the bonds between the mothers of college football players, she says — “you’re with the same kids for five years,” she says.

“In the NFL, it’s a little different because the boys end up with girlfriends and wives and so the moms are kind of not in it that much,” she says.

Travis Kelce is notably dating Taylor Swift, and Jason Kelce is married to Kylie Kelce, with three daughters.

Dallas Cowboys v Philadelphia Eagles
Lane Johnson #65 and Jason Kelce #62 of the Philadelphia Eagles react after a win over the Dallas Cowboys at Lincoln Financial Field on Nov. 5, 2023. Tim Nwachukwu / Getty Images

She's previously joked that Jason is her "favorite" child for a simple reason — he gave her grandchildren.

Jason and Kylie Kelce share three daughters, Wyatt, Elliotte and Bennett —?the youngest of whom was born less than two weeks after the 2023 Super Bowl.

Donna Kelce says her grandma name is "DeeDee."

"That's the first initial to my name, and it's usually the first consonant that they can say," she says.

As for her grandparent style, she says she's not a "typical" grandmother in that she's not "around 24/7."

"I'm more of a fly-in, have a great time and then fly back out," she says, "which I'm sure is much to the chagrin of my son and his wife."

She adds that she loves spending time with the three girls.

"It's wonderful to be able to see life through the eyes of a child," she says.


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