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Travis Kelce arrives in Vegas with a battered body and a tapestry of war wounds after a brutal season with the Chiefs…



Travis Kelce arrives in Vegas with a battered body and a tapestry of war wounds after a brutal season with the Chiefs… but victory with Taylor Swift in the stands would be the ending that cements his place as an all-time great

Chris Jones perched a tablet on top of his locker and clicked play. The defensive tackle had just spent a few hours on his day job: marshalling the Chiefs’ defensive line. Now it was time for his part-time role.

Jones began his set as locker-room DJ and, before long, he had turned on the smoke machine too – Jones puffed on a thick cigar as he joined several teammates and staff for an impromptu photoshoot to celebrate victory over the Baltimore Ravens – and a fourth Super Bowl appearance in five years.

Cameras soon caught an intruder: Travis Kelce, stripped down to his underwear, entered stage right. He and Jones shook hands and bumped chests.

A few minutes later, however Kelce stood alone outside his locker. It was pretty bare: his cell phone, his clothes and a few cans of drink… his body, on the other hand? A mess. Cuts and scratches and grazes and nicks and those dark circles – the unmistakable scars of cupping therapy.

The Chiefs celebrations continued even after Kelce was led into a side room and on to a massage table. There, he sat quietly as, nearby, staff emptied the locker room and teammates headed to the after party. Through those double doors, medics tended to Kelce’s tapestry of war wounds.

Those close to the tight end have described the NFL as Kelce’s ‘side hustle’. He has so many commitments and makes so much money away from the field, after all. Last Sunday, however, his body painted a different picture. It was a bloody illustration that, after all he has won and all he has earned, the 34-year-old still pays full price for football. A reminder that preparing his 6ft 5ins, 250lb frame for the toll of any given Sunday is a full-time job.

He undergoes cupping, dry needling, occlusion therapy and a pregame diet of anti-inflammatories. Still injuries linger, still Kelce ‘feels every single’ one of his 10 surgeries.

He has gone under the knife before but this year, more than ever, he has found himself under the microscope, too. He has played through the pain before but this year, more than ever, he has had to play through pressure, too.

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