The true star of the Kelce clan and the anchor around whom everything revolves is Travis’ older brother Jason.


Photo illustrative gif of Jason Kelce on a podium with red confetti

Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast/Getty/AP

Ever since Travis Kelce’s gloriously meteoric promotion from mere superstar NFL tight end to Taylor Swift’s boyfriend, his every move, word and outlandish outfit has been scrutinized and picked over ad nauseam, both by avid Swifties trying to get the measure of their “new dad” and by perplexed casual news consumers who are vaguely curious to see what all the fuss is about.

Travis Kelce falls within the parameters of the “Golden Retriever Boyfriend” category. He’s tall, strong and always seems to be in a good mood.

He is also relentlessly consistent. Whenever he’s asked about Swift, he only has glowing, expertly vague things to say. In countless video clips all over social media, he’s kissing or holding his pop star paramour in a gentle way, despite his mammoth size, sending millions of hearts aflutter.

It’s to be expected, then, that most people at the moment seem to agree that Travis Kelce is the alpha member of his bafflingly successful football family. The true star of the Kelce clan and the anchor around whom everything revolves, however, is Travis’ older brother Jason Kelce: father of three, Philadelphia Eagles center and one of People magazine’s sexiest men of 2023.

For several months, I, like many other Swift enthusiasts, have devoured the New Heights podcast, which shot to the top of the charts after Travis and Taylor made it official. On the show, the Kelce brothers recap their latest games and riff extemporaneously on culture of all sorts. It’s this platform that served as Ground Zero for the Swift-Kelce romance. On a fateful episode last summer, Travis announced his disappointment at not getting the chance to pass Swift a friendship bracelet at one of her concerts, and the rest is history.

But the podcast is also revealing in terms of Travis’ weaknesses, and Jason’s strengths. Jason is the consummate eldest sibling. He takes the lead on most topics, guiding the audience through complex field dynamics, silly questions and Swift-related gossip with a deftness that reveals how comfortable he is with chaos.

Travis, on the other hand, leans on a couple different conversational standbys. He’s full of praise for everyone. Travis has ever met, he has nothing but good things to say about seemingly everyone he’s ever met.. Travis also says “alright nah” and “electric” constantly. It’s exhausting.

As the star of the 2023 Amazon Prime documentary Kelce, Jason Kelce is both refreshingly loquacious on the subject of his underdog motivations and on the beating his body has taken after 12 years in the NFL.

Unlike Travis, Jason is allergic to reflexive positivity, and cries on camera while talking about how unsure he is that his post-football career will bring him the fulfillment that his vocation does. He’s real, and he’s so gentle and attentive with the daughters he clearly adores.

He’s also achingly sweet on the subject of his wife, the similarly iconic Kylie Kelce, whom he met on Tinder. In Kelce and on New Heights, Jason has expressed that the first time he laid eyes on Kylie, he knew she was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. As Kylie has also recounted, Jason also passed out drunk at their first date and had to be carried home by his teammates. Relentlessly upbeat Travis would probably never let Swift see him so vulnerably messy.

Kylie is also such a big fan of her husband’s Eagles, that she refused to wear Kansas City Chiefs gear during last weekend’s Super Bowl extravaganza. Jason, meanwhile, revealed that he chose his comically loud red and yellow overalls so that it would be more of a challenge to take his shirt off on TV again.

To my mind, though, the clincher in the Jason vs. Travis debate comes in the form of a New Heights clip from around seven months ago. Jason, for reasons that are clearly unclear even to himself, decided, on a slow day at home, to watch the Twilight series. After hating the first one, he decided to marathon the other four movies in the series, and proceeds to bore Travis to the point of screaming by recounting the plot in exhaustive detail.

“So she falls in love with Edward, who’s a vampire, and he has a family of other vampires that have been around for a long time named the Cullens,” Jason says, sighing, hilariously clearly boring even himself. But he refuses to let the experience go undocumented. “And she has a thing for him, and that goes back and forth, and then there’s this other group of vampires that want to eat her and all the other humans, but the Cullens don’t eat humans, because they’re like, the vegan vampires.”

Travis clearly wants to jump out of his skin, but Jason keeps barreling onward. “And then the second movie happens, and you find out that there’s werewolves in this movie out of nowhere, and that’s where Jacob comes in,” he continues. “So in the second movie Bella really still loves Edward, but she starts leading this guy Jacob on like he’s got some chance, but he doesn’t fuckin’ stand a chance.”

After around a minute more of this, Travis can’t take it anymore and starts yelling at the ceiling, but Jason won’t be deterred: “Bella gets pregnant right out of high school and marries a 109-year-old vampire…”

At this point, Travis removes his headphones, defeated definitively by the superior Kelce.