Still, he said he can’t help but be exhilarated by all that’s been around him since arriving in Frankfurt this week.
“Every single time we’ve gotten in a bus ride already, I’m out here just peeking out the windows like, ‘Oh man, this is what this place looks like,’” Kelce said. “There’s nothing wrong with being excited and being happy and being in a new environment.”
What the Chiefs have learned quickly, however, is that the enthusiasm isn’t one-sided.
Frankfurt has been buzzing since the team’s arrival on Thursday, with downtown areas filled with Chiefs fans and locals embracing their favorite NFL team coming to them.
“You get on the ground, you can feel the energy,” Chiefs president Mark Donovan said Saturday night. “And walk around town, you see it.”
A Burger King in Frankfurt embellished with Chiefs gear from floor to ceiling had shoulder-to-shoulder business on Saturday afternoon.
Meanwhile, Chiefs owner Clark Hunt said Saturday night he was now realizing the full impact of the Chiefs traveling to Germany.
Chiefs bring their own bash
Hunt took a commercial flight to Frankfurt from Dallas on Friday morning, and he was surprised by what he saw around him: More than 50 Chiefs fans joined him on the aircraft, with many of them fist-bumping him as they passed.
Then, on Saturday morning, Hunt said he was stopped about every five minutes while eating breakfast. Fans who spoke to him hailed from KC, Frankfurt and also other countries in Europe.
“It’s a very big deal for this city,” Hunt said Saturday night. “So we’ve felt very welcomed since we’ve been here.”
The Chiefs made sure to bring their own party as well — one that’s been stationed around the Main River near downtown Frankfurt this week.
“ChampionShip,” a 250-foot boat adorned with Chiefs players and logos, has been docked there while serving as a central hub of sorts for NFL fans who are in town for this week’s celebration.
Donovan said the vessel was so large that he saw it from his plane seat while descending into Frankfurt. Three different people had told him they’d never seen a boat this big occupying the Main River.
The four-story ship also hosted an extravaganza on Saturday night, with Hunt and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell serving drinks for a time to ticketed fans who joined them aboard.
Hunt was struck by how much of the German language he heard around him on the boat, meaning many of the folks there were locals. That spoke to a new reality for the Chiefs: After ranking middle of the pack among NFL teams regarding name association in Germany five years ago, Hunt reported that the Chiefs have now elevated themselves to the most-recognized team.
And at least some of that has to do with their superstar quarterback.
Why Patrick Mahomes ‘had this game circled’
Patrick Mahomes is a staple around the city thanks to larger-than-life ads in the airport and at bus stations. His stature here is helped by his brand relationships, as Adidas and Hugo Boss are both stationed in the country.
“It’s really cool,” Mahomes said, “just to be on this stage — the world stage in Germany.”
And the game, Mahomes figures, will be even better. He said he had a friend last year send him a video of an NFL Sunday from Germany, with bunches of Chiefs fans cheering the team on from seven time zones away.
“I’ve had this game circled knowing that and knowing that the Chiefs Kingdom is in Germany. And I want them to be able to see us firsthand,” Mahomes said. “And I’m excited to be able to play out here.”
The final realization of this event, Donovan said, is everything the team could’ve hoped for. He said the Chiefs had worked for years to make this specific overseas game a reality, and though that can lead to some natural anxiety beforehand, “Things are going really, really well since we’ve been here.”
Mahomes, meanwhile, has a two-point checklist when it comes to this location:
One, return to Germany this offseason when he has more time.
And two, appreciate Sunday’s spectacle for all that it is.
“I’ve always tried to enjoy every moment of my career,” Mahomes said, “and this will be one that I’ll have for the rest of my life.”