These Parents Raised Two Kids Playing In the Super Bowl—Here’s How They Fed Them

From a Wall Street Journal story by Andrew Beaton headlined “These Parents Raised Two Kids Playing the Super Bowl. Here’s How They Fed Them.”:

The biggest problem with raising two sons who would become the first pair of brothers to play against each other in the Super Bowl was getting enough groceries to feed them.

Eagles center Jason Kelce and Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce are siblings and superstars. They’re both huge in their own way. And when they were growing up, after a long day of playing sports, they came home ravenous.

They devoured entire chickens single-handedly. They racked up unfathomable bills when the family went out to eat. They even went to neighbors’ homes and ate their food.

“When they went off to college, it was like I got a raise because they ate so much food,” says Donna Kelce, their mother.

The showdown between the Kelce brothers isn’t just an improbable meeting between two kids born two years apart. It’s going to have an outsize impact on who actually wins the Super Bowl.

Both were named to this year’s All-Pro teams and both could be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame someday. Jason, the stout 35-year-old lineman, is tasked with stifling Kansas City’s menacing interior pass rush. Travis, who at 6-foot-5 moves more athletically than anyone his size should, is Patrick Mahomes’s go-to weapon.

So what did their parents feed the kids that turned them into NFL greats?

A lot.

The Kelces, who are now divorced, shifted the job of feeding their sons as they grew up. When they were little, Donna did most of the cooking. When they got older, and her hours as a banker left her schedule with less flexibility, their father Ed took on more of the load. It wasn’t an easy job.

Jason and Travis weren’t just big, hungry boys growing up in the Cleveland suburbs. They played many sports—whether it was hockey, basketball, lacrosse or hockey—so there was hardly a day when they didn’t arrive home with an enormous appetite.

Ed Kelce tried to make sure that every dinner had a carbohydrate, a protein, a fruit and a vegetable. He made staples like burgers and chicken breasts in addition to pasta with ground beef and ricotta cheese.

The meals definitely weren’t always glamorous. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches were a standard lunch. The green beans usually came from a can. But Ed would also do his best to try to keep his sons away from processed foods, such as packaged macaroni and cheese, even as he tried to keep up with his sons’ caloric needs.

“You’d try to change it up,” Ed says.

There were also occasional intrafamily skirmishes when Ed tried to change it up too much.

Travis developed a reputation in the household as the picky eater of the bunch. Once Ed came up with a recipe for a mushroom chicken bake, and Jason loved it. Travis wouldn’t touch it. (“Because I said the word mushroom,” Ed says.)

Ed, though, came from a family that worked hard to put food on the table and the expectation was that it would be eaten. He tried to instill that in his own children, and while that was never a problem with Jason, certain meals would produce father-son standoffs in which Travis wouldn’t be allowed to leave the dinner table until his plate was clean.

“If there’s one way to piss Ed Kelce off, it is not finishing the food on your plate,” Jason Kelce said on an episode of the podcast he hosts with his brother.

“Yeah, he didn’t like that,” Donna says.

“I think he exaggerated a little bit there,” Ed says.

Those situations typically resolved themselves the same way. Travis dug his heels in. They battled it out. And then, Ed says, Donna usually sided with her son.

There were also plenty of nights when they didn’t eat in. Cheap pizza deliveries, often loaded up with ground beef or pepperoni, were a good way to feed a couple of boys who ate like an army platoon. The winner of those meals was their dog Belle, who feasted on the crusts. (Because Belle was a female dog, they told people she was named after the Disney princess. She was actually named after the great Cleveland slugger Albert Belle.)

The life of travel sports almost meant a fair share of evenings on the road, where they had no choice but to dine out. One popular stop for the Kelces was IHOP, where the parents thought they could feed them at an affordable price. Then they racked up bills for over $100.

“They had like 10 plates in front of them,” Donna says. “It was unreal.”

So it was a financial boon for the Kelces when their kids went off to college, where the football team at the University of Cincinnati became more responsible for both of their sons’ diets. Eating was a high priority for Jason in particular there. He enrolled as a walk-on linebacker before putting on 70 pounds, his mother estimates, as he transitioned to play on the team’s offensive line.

Now it’s their pro teams’ responsibility to feed them. Jason recently described a typical breakfast he has these days at the Eagles facility, and it’s definitely hearty: three eggs over easy, a few sausage links, some potatoes and a bagel with cream cheese. It’s also not at all crazy for a lineman who had to bulk up to his current listed weight of 282 pounds.

Ed also observed that his kids’ eating habits have evolved since they were teenagers. Travis works with a personal chef to tailor his diet and has introduced his father to new foods he has never tried before. At home, Jason likes to have oatmeal with fruit for breakfast. “Big fruit guy,” Jason said.

Both of his sons, Ed notes, have increasingly focused on nutrition during this stage of their lives. And that might just happen to explain why they’re both still at the top of their games even as they hit their mid-30s.

The Chiefs and the Eagles are meeting in the Kelce Bowl because the two brothers are still fit enough to play like they’re in the primes of their careers.

Andrew Beaton is a sports reporter for The Wall Street Journal in New York covering the NFL, college sports and more.

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