Chiefs’ Travis Kelce loses cool on refs in ejection

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce didn’t wait to arise from the ground before letting all 70,000-plus people at Arrowhead Stadium know he thought himself the victim of pass interference by Jaguars cornerback Prince Amukamara.

Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce walks to the sideline during the team's 27-21 win over the New Orleans Saints Oct. 23, 2016 at Arrowhead Stadium. (Nick Tre. Smith/Special to The Topeka Capital-Journal)

Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce walks to the sideline during the team’s 27-21 win over the New Orleans Saints Oct. 23, 2016 at Arrowhead Stadium. (Nick Tre. Smith/Special to The Topeka Capital-Journal)

“I just lost it,” Kelce said following the game, which ended for him after his ejection for two unsportsmanlike fouls on the same play.

With 11 minutes, 18 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, the Chiefs found themselves with a 2nd-and-4 at the Jacksonville Jaguars’ 12-yard line. Quarterback Nick Foles fired a pass to the back of the end zone intended for Kelce. The ball glanced off the Pro Bowler’s hands with tight coverage from Amukamara.

Quarterback Nick Foles deferred to his tight end on whether it was a penalty.

“I’m going with my teammate,” Foles said. “He felt like he was held, and he usually goes up and makes plays like that, so for him not to come down with the ball something had to happen.”

His hands stretched out at his sides asking for a flag that didn’t come prompted him to plead his case face-to-face to the back judge Dino Paganelli. When his complaint found no justice, he turned to field judge Mike Weatherford, and the real fun began.

“I kind of lost my composure out there,” Kelce said.

An animated Kelce made his case, and as he turned away said something to Weatherford that caused the official to throw a flag for unsportsmanlike conduct.

“When he threw the flag on me for whatever reason, he should have thrown it at the guy for pass interference,” Kelce said. “But it is what it is.”

When Kelce realized the flag was thrown, he turned around and continued the argument, pointing at Weatherford before throwing his towel at the official as if he were trying to flag the official himself.

“I can’t throw my flag at the ref,” Kelce said. “He can throw his all day though.”

Weatherford threw his hat in the air, signifying a second unsportsmanlike penalty on Kelce.

“You can’t do it,” Kelce said. “As soon as the referee took off his hat, I knew I was out and felt like an idiot.”

Kelce said coach Andy Reid told him after his ejection he cannot demonstrate his frustration in that fashion.

“I can’t do that to my teammates, and I can’t do that to (Chiefs) Kingdom,” Kelce said. “I’ve got to learn from it and keep moving forward.”

Foles defended the tight end after the game.

“You could just tell by looking at him that he understands that it can hurt the team,” Foles said. “But that’s Kelce. I mean, he’s going to make so many plays. It goes back to I’d rather Kelce be emotional and care like that than the other way. He was trying to make a play, he’s emotional. That’s what you want in this game.”

Reid proved less forgiving.

“I didn’t appreciate the way he handle that,” Reid said. “It’s been addressed.”

Kelce professed learning his lesson, but about an hour after the game he turned his angst to Twitter. He first posted a photo of the play as evidence of a penalty:

Less than two hours later, he posted again, this time offering an apology.

The NFL likely will review the exchange between Kelce and the officials. A fine certainly seems likely, although an additional penalty isn’t out of the realm of possibility. Kelce should know the NFL’s decision by Friday.

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Matt Derrick is the lead beat writer for ChiefsDigest.com and the Topeka Capital-Journal. Use the contact page to reach him or find him on Twitter: @MattDerrick.


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