"I'm living the dream, literally."
That's how Travis Kelce began his conference call with local media on Friday afternoon after signing a contract extension that will keep him in a Kansas City Chiefs uniform for the foreseeable future.
Kelce is currently in Hawaii preparing with Team Rice to take on and Team Irvin in the Pro Bowl on Sunday night.
It's the first Pro Bowl honor of Kelce's career after finishing the 2015 season with 72 receptions for 875 yards and 5 touchdowns.
He took time away from practicing with fellow teammates Marcus Peters, Eric Berry and Tamba Hali in paradise to talk about how thankful he is to be in this position.
"First off, I want to say thanks to (Chiefs Chairman and CEO) Clark Hunt, Andy Reid and the coaching staff," he said. "John Dorsey—these guys believed in me enough when I got drafted and they're obviously still behind me every step of the way. I can't thank them enough. I can't thank my coaches enough. I can't thank my teammates enough.
"I'm just a very thankful person right now. It's hard to bring this back to reality."
The reality is Kelce, who missed his rookie season with a knee injury after being selected in the third round of the 2013 NFL Draft out of Cincinnati, has become one of the preeminent playmakers in the NFL at the tight end position over the past two seasons.
Of Kelce's 875 yards receiving this past season, 536 of them came via yards after the catch, which ranked second in the NFL among tight ends, only behind Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots.
Kelce had 8 catches of at least 25 yards this season and averaged more than 12 yards per reception on third down.
When the ball is in his hands, Kelce does damage, and his relationship with quarterback Alex Smith both on and off the field has been a key for the Chiefs over the past two seasons.
"Alex [Smith] has helped me grow as a professional," Kelce explained. "I've been thankful for how he's been the leader of this team. We've just grown as friends and brothers in the locker room. It's been awesome to work with him and now to be able to continue to work with him."
Kelce has helped lead the Chiefs to 21 total wins over the past two seasons, including the franchise's first playoff win in more than two decades.
The franchise's biggest win in 22 years was also the biggest game of Kelce's career, when he finished with 8 receptions for 128 yards to lead all receivers in the 30-0 victory over the Houston Texans in the Wild Card Round of the AFC playoffs.
"You have to be accountable to every single guy in that locker room," Kelce explained. "When that ball is in the air, they have to know that I'm going to go up and get it. It's goes along with Alex's trust and the offensive line's trust in me, and vice versa, and we build that trust every single day in the locker room.
"That comes from being friends and just hanging around, being brothers, then on top of that, going to work together, putting in the sweat and putting in the grind."
View the top photos of TE Travis Kelce
The relationship Kelce has with Chiefs Kingdom has been special, and it's a big reason he was given the "Role Model of the Year" honor by the Boys and Girls Club, but it's also a big reason as to why he embraces the responsibility that comes with the kind of commitment the organization just made in him.
"They ride and die with us every single week," Kelce said of Chiefs Kingdom. "I see them out there and I know it hurts them when we lose, and I know how ecstatic and how fun the city is when we're winning. For me to be able to represent them for the next few years, it makes me proud and makes me want to keep getting better every single day.
"When you come together and feel how special it was when we were rolling this year, it makes you want more. It really does, and with all of this comes a lot of responsibility, and right now, I'm more motivated than ever to go out there and be a dominant performer for the Chiefs for many years to come."