Is Chiefs TE Travis Kelce — sorry, Zeus — growing up before our very eyes?

Travis Kelce is a free spirit who says he's ready to assume a leadership role with the Chiefs.

Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — He may not be the best  — or even the most critical — single piece on the offense, but he remains the most interesting, in nearly every facet. We love Travis Kelce because Travis Kelce moves like a wild colt seeking to avenge the death of his parents. We love Travis Kelce because you feel he could run circles around a young Charlie Sheen in his prime. We love Travis Kelce because he wouldn’t know boring if it hit him over the head with a spatula.

Zeus has fun. We love that about Zeus, too. It’s infectious. If the Chiefs are Delta House, Zeus could make a pretty good Otter.

But what happens when Otter has to be Hoover? More straight man, less goof?

"I come in and I take a (leadership) role," Kelce said. "It’s as simple as that. Not like it’s a headline secret or anything like that."

Nope. The Chiefs bid adieu to Kelce’s steady mentor, veteran Anthony Fasano, in a salary cap purge, pushing everybody up a peg. Now the Chiefs need Kelce, a natural free spirit, to help show the kids how to toe the line rather than cross it.

"Nobody puts more expectations on me than myself," Kelce said. "That’s just the heart of a competitor. That’s how I was raised. My father taught me, ‘You can buy a man’s back, but you can’t buy his heart.’"

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You can’t fake it, either. Rookie James O’Shaughnessy, a 6-foot-4 leaper plucked in the fifth round of the draft out of Illinois State, is all kinds of gifted and all kinds of raw. Richard Gordon and newbie Ryan Taylor are the most experienced options in the position group, age-wise, with four NFL seasons under each of their belts but only 21 combined targets and 12 total catches since 2011 to show for it. Of the six tight ends rotating at the moment, three have accrued two or fewer league years — and basketball-forward-turned-NFL-project Demetrius Harris (three catches over two seasons) recently underwent a second surgery on his broken foot, further thinning the herd.

"I’m probably the most comfortable in the offense for being on the field for an entire year," said Kelce, who caught the eye of fans at home and abroad after racking up a Gronkowskiesque 862 receiving yards on 67 catches last fall. "We have Richard Gordon, who’s a vet, who knows a lot and understands the game very well, and we’ll go from there. But it’s clearly my (room), and I’m going to go ahead and take the bull by the horns and lead us to success."

A little leading by example wouldn’t hurt, either. Kelce ranked first among all NFL tight ends last fall in yards after the catch … and first in fumbles (four). No. 87 in open space took your breath away. No. 87 whenever a tackler closed and reached in for the rock took weeks off your life.


"From here, you can take it season by season, so every single week, every single day, that I come out here, I’m trying to get better at the same little things, the detail work," Kelce said. "I was telling (someone) earlier, that’s probably the biggest thing that I learned from Fasano, was coming out here and detailing my work and just becoming better and better every single day at the same thing."

Zeus will always be fun. Coach Andy Reid wants Kelce to be Kelce, dancing, prancing, offering a little lip service at any fool who tries to cover him. But by not bringing in another veteran to help smooth those rough edges, there’s clearly a trust that No. 87 is maturing, that the fun is going to be the constructive kind.

A trust or a hope.

"Don’t get me wrong: You’re constantly preaching the small things, on and off the field," Kelce said. "Out here, on the field, it’s (a) work in progress."

Off the field, it’s can’t-miss social media — as raw, unfiltered and real as the dude himself:

You can take Zeus out of Mount Olympus. But you can’t always take the Mount Olympus out of Zeus.

You can follow Sean Keeler on Twitter at @SeanKeeler or email him at seanmkeeler@gmail.com.