After a combined 22 years of playing in the NFL, brothers Jason and Travis Kelce reached a football milestone no other brotherly duo has been able to accomplish: they were the first brothers to ever square off at the Super Bowl — meaning their parents, Ed and Donna, not only attended the big game, but they were also rooting for both teams.
Super Bowl LVII saw the Philadelphia Eagles face off against the Kansas City Chiefs. On Jan. 29, 2023, the Kelce brothers sealed their Super Bowl fate after winning their respective divisional championship games. Jason's longtime career as a center for the Eagles began back in 2011. Meanwhile, Travis, a record-breaking tight end, has been playing for the Chiefs since 2013.
Of course, football fans followed Ed and Donna's leadup to the 2023 Super Bowl with a diligent eye. Would each parent root for a separate team? Were they casting favorites? Whose jersey would they wear?
Donna, for her part, made sure to show her sons equal support when dressing for the big game. For her "#gamedayfit," the proud mom wore a shirt that split into Eagles and Chiefs colors on each side and a clear bag with each of her sons' jersey numbers. She even donned sneakers corresponding to each team — Chiefs on her left, Eagles on her right.
Ultimately, the Chiefs ended up defeating the Eagles 38-35, making Travis the victorious brother of the aptly nicknamed "Kelce Bowl." While Travis celebrated on the winner's platform alongside Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes, Jason was seen getting emotional after reuniting with his mom on the field after the loss. The Eagles star immediately enveloped Donna in a huge hug while she appeared to share some comforting words.
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And though there could only be one winner, Donna said ahead of the game that the momentous occasion within itself was a win for team Kelce. "You see them as kids and you wonder how they're going to relate to other children and you don't really know. They're the best in their city, the best maybe in their state, and you don't know how that's going to relate to the rest of the country, you just have no idea," she shared during an appearance on the Today show.
"I know that they're very talented and very athletic. It was just a joy to go to all the games — lacrosse, baseball, hockey — they played almost every single sport you can think of; basketball. So it's just been a pure joy to watch them compete and be allowed to do it for this many years. It's just amazing," she concluded.
While having two sons play in the Super Bowl was something she and the family only believed to be possible in their wildest dreams, Donna knew, as a mom of two top-ranked NFL players, that the possibility was always within reach.
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"Well you knew it was going to happen eventually to somebody because there are so many brothers in the NFL right now playing at a high level," Donna told Today. "It just happened to be that we were the lucky ones first so, I think it'll probably be more and more prominent."
From their rom-com-worthy meet-cute to navigating life with two sons in the NFL, here's everything to know about Ed and Donna Kelce.
Donna's stepmother was her biggest champion
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At the time of her mother's death, Donna and her family — including her father and younger brother Don — had just moved out of Cleveland and to the suburbs. Looking back on her childhood, Donna credits her stepmother Mary — also known as Grandma Murr by the Kelce brothers — for picking up the pieces and getting her and Don back on track. When their mother died, the sister-brother duo were 12 and 10 years old, respectively.
"By the grace of God, if we didn't have [Mary] I don't think we would have made it," Donna said during an appearance on her sons' joint podcast, New Heights with Jason and Travis Kelce.
While Donna's father was against women playing sports, her stepmother was all in. During her high school years, Donna secretly — but with her stepmother's support and guidance – competed at the Junior Olympics in track and field and won.
"She's just a lovely lady," Donna told her sons of Grandma Murr, who died earlier this year. "I feel so fortunate that I was raised by her."
With her stepmother's continued support, Donna became the first in her family to graduate college. After earning her degree from Ohio University, she pursued a 30-year career in banking. She worked for Mastercard before settling down with a local bank in Cleveland, where she specialized in commercial real estate finances.
Ed's family has a big military background
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Ed also grew up in Cleveland and, like his sons, was immediately attracted to the sport of football in high school. He gave college a try; however, coming from a family with a large military presence, Ed felt called to serve his country. "Everybody in my family prior to me was in the service," Ed told his sons on New Heights with Jason and Travis Kelce. "We're also talking about family [that] lived through World War II, so that's what everybody did because that was the background."
Unfortunately, the Army rejected his application due to a pre-existing knee injury. Ed did, however, go on to enlist for the Coast Guard. Albeit, his dreams were cut short during boot camp when he learned he had Crohn's disease. Ed pivoted and went on to have a very successful career in the steel industry, occasionally bringing his sons to work with them so they could get an understanding of what work in a mill was like.
"I'd take them there — hard hat, safety glasses, boots, the whole nine yards," he told the Los Angeles Times. "I'd tell them, `You can have a job like your mother's, or you can have a job like mine.' "
Donna first met Ed while on her way to another date
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For Donna and Ed, it was love at first sight. While sharing their love story on New Heights with Jason and Travis Kelce, it was revealed that Ed actually stole his future bride from another guy who Donna originally agreed to go on a date with later that same night. On her way there, Donna stopped by a bar named Fagan's in Old Cleveland Flats, where Ed also happened to swing by for an after-work drink. The two got to talking and Donna skipped her date!
"I was supposed to go out with a guy that night. We were supposed to go to a play, and I never made it. Your dad and I talked forever," Donna told her sons, adding jokingly, "It was a good play, too! I really wanted to see it."
For his part, Ed is still shocked he won over Donna as he was covered in dirt from head to toe after working at the steel lab all day. "I'm in coveralls that are covered in cement," Ed continued the story. "We started talking and she gave me a ride home. She came in and I told her 'hold on, let me change.' "
Not wanting the night to end, Ed recalled taking a quick shower and taking Donna to another nearby bar. "It was meant to be. It's just the way it was," Donna quipped.
They were married for nearly 25 years
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Donna and Ed tied the knot in the late '70s, about five years before welcoming their older son Jason. Less than two years later, they became a family of four with the addition of Travis. Together, they raised their family in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, and sent their sons to the University of Cincinnati, where they both played college football.
After roughly 25 years of marriage, the pair went their separate ways following both their sons' college graduations. While the divorce presented a hardship for the Kelce family, Donna looks back on her marriage to Ed fondly. On New Heights with Jason and Travis Kelce, Donna assured both Jason and Travis that she has no ill will towards their father and considers him a very important person in her life.
"I don't hate him. We're friends to this day. We get along great," Donna said on the podcast. "We were like a tag team with you two. We got to do all sorts of fun things. When one of you had to go out of town, the other person would help with the other child. It was perfect."
However, as Donna explained, "sometimes people move apart." When asked by her sons if she regrets marrying Ed, Donna responded, "No, never, because I got you two."
They're proud parents of two NFL stars
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Donna and Ed welcomed their football superstars exactly 23 months apart: Jason arrived on Nov. 5, 1987 while his younger brother was born on Oct. 5, 1989. While some fans argue Jason is his dad's mini-me, Ed doesn't find that to be the case.
"There are mannerisms, tones, speech things, the way we address people that are very similar between me and Jason," Ed explained on New Heights with Jason and Travis Kelce. "But, as far as, do I see more of myself in Jason than [Travis]? No, in some ways it might be the other way.
To say there was never a dull moment in the Kelce household would be an understatement, Donna joked on the Today show. Chatting with anchors Savannah Guthrie and Craig Melvin, the mom of two recalled breaking up "a lot of fights" when her boys were younger.
"Everything was a competition. It was a competition to see who could get to the table first, who could get to the front seat of the car — this is just typical sibling rivalry. They egged each other on," she explained.
"Travis was alway trying to get at his older brother to pay attention to him, so there were a lot of fights," Donna continued. "That's just the way boys are."
This isn't the first time Donna has spoken publicly about her sons' fierce sibling rivalry. In an interview with Sports Illustrated, she noted it wasn't unusual for the brothers to throw punches as well. "There were a lot of fights," Donna told the magazine. "There were a lot of punches thrown. It all just stemmed from somebody being better than the other one, and the other one not being able to deal with it."
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Speaking with PEOPLE, Donna echoed a similar sentiment regarding the competitiveness between Travis and Jason. "They do not like to lose," she said. "That's why they're the professionals that they are. It's give everything you can. When you don't think you have any more in the tank, you push harder and you find out how far you can stretch yourself."
Ed also spoke about his sons' childhood battles while speaking with the Los Angeles Times, recalling the first time that Travis actually stood up to his older brother and how Ed creatively broke up the scrap. After the boys took their fight into the kitchen, accidentally entangling Ed, he exaggerated an injury to get them to settle down.
"We hit the floor and I screamed out, 'Oh, my back!' " Ed recalled. "Changed the whole dynamic. All of a sudden they weren't mad at each other; they were worried about dad. There wasn't a damn thing wrong with me, but it ended the fight."
Ed lives a mile away from Jason and his wife
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Ed relocated from Cleveland to Philadelphia to be closer to Jason, his wife, Kylie, and their three kids. He currently lives a mile away from the nine-acre farm where Jason and Kylie are raising their family, though he regularly visits to help with growing produce in their garden, as he explained to the Los Angeles Times.
And though the family grows everything from tomatoes to squash now — which they donate to underprivileged families — Jason and Travis say their father wasn't always as focused on healthy eating growing up.
"We never got vegetables growing up," Travis teased during their father's podcast appearance after Ed mentioned the importance of nutritious meal. "I never ate a single vegetable growing up."
Ed argued that both boys ate "green beans and corn" as kids, but Jason agreed with Travis, who replied: "We ate Giorgio's Oven Fresh Pizza every single night."
Donna secretly loves the Eagles more than the Chiefs
While she could never pick a favorite son, Donna did reveal which of her sons' teams she would potentially be crossing her fingers for a little harder. The NFL mom told Today show anchors Guthrie and Melvin that her plan was to root for "the offense" and "every time somebody has a ball," albeit she would possibly be cheering with one fan base a little more than the other.
"Both fan bases are absolutely amazing; just give everything that they have on game day," she said on-air, before confessing that the Eagles had a slight edge. "Jason would say I'm going to root for the baby of the family, which is Travis. And I keep telling him, 'No, you've given me grandchildren.' So we'll leave it at that," Donna said. "It's always about the grands."
Regardless of the outcome, the proud mom was also prepared for a waterworks show of both happy and sad tears. "I'll just be so elated. Probably some tears. It'll just be a very, very emotional moment," she said. "I'm a true fan of football. This is going to be so awesome."
"We're going to really enjoy this, have a great time," Donna continued. "Obviously there's going to be someone going home heartbroken; they won't have the bragging rights at the Thanksgiving table. But, you know, this is going to be an awesome event and I'm really looking forward to it."
Donna traveled 1,300 miles in one day to attend both her sons' playoff games
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Donna isn't joking when she says she doesn't root for one son more than the other. During the NFL Wild Card games, in which both Jason and Travis were playing in and on nearly opposite coasts, Donna traveled 1,300 miles to see both her sons compete in their respective playoff games on the same day.
The NFL's official Twitter account documented Donna's journey, which began in San Francisco, where Jason and the Eagles were facing off against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. From there, she took a flight to Kansas City and arrived just in time to surprise Travis at the Chiefs' post-game press conference.
Travis was clearly surprised when the first question came from his mom, who wanted to know how it felt to finally get a touchdown in a playoff game. "To finally throw a touchdown like I used to tell my mom when I was like five years old that I was going to eventually throw a touchdown in the National Football League, I finally got it done," he answered with a smile.
"It only took me nine years," he added. "That's a good question though, Mom."
Ed has also said that he and Donna have a system for splitting up their sons' games.
"We each try to be at one of the games," he told the Los Angeles Times. "Divide and conquer."
Donna wrote letters for her sons ahead of the Super Bowl
As her sons got in the zone for Super Bowl LVII, Donna told PEOPLE she wrote letters to both Travis and Jason to read before they took the field. "I wrote them both letters and I'm going to take them cookies," the mother-of-two revealed. At the heart of her letters, Donna said she wanted "to tell them that my fingers are crossed for both of them, that I'm proud of them, and I hope their dreams come true."
Jason and Travis agree that their mom made the 2023 Super Bowl extra memorable
Jason and Travis reminisced on the 2023 Super Bowl during a Feb. 15 episode of their New Heights podcast. They agreed the night was made even more special thanks to Donna.
"The moment I saw mom is when I got really emotional because man, it was so awesome," Jason said. "It was awesome that she was on top of the world for a week."
"She was the heavyweight champ, man," Travis added. "She was on top of it, and she shined the whole time, man. That was the coolest part. Mom, you killed it. Dad, you've been killing it."
Ed braced himself for one of his sons' Super Bowl heartbreak
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Ahead of the Super Bowl, Ed was already preparing to comfort one of his sons after the other was declared a victor.
"We'll try to enjoy it," he told the Los Angeles Times before the game. "But by 10 o'clock Sunday night, somebody's brokenhearted and somebody's celebrating. We'll deal with that the best we can when it happens."
During his appearance on his sons' podcast, Travis asked Ed which of them he will speak to first after the game concludes.
"Probably the loser," he said, explaining, "Somebody's gonna feel pretty crummy and I wanna be with him — initially."
Donna has a lucky bracelet she wears to every game
After the NFL season both her sons had, Donna wasn't taking any chances with superstition.
Speaking with PEOPLE, the mom shared that she was planning on donning a special piece of jewelry that she had on her all season. "I wear jewelry from my mother," Donna said. "She passed this year. She always wore it for games, so I'm wearing it now. I wore it all season."
The bracelet passed down from Grandma Murr is a Pandora bracelet with charms for Travis and Jason's teams. "One is for the Eagles and one for the Chiefs; one red and one green, she explained.
Travis likes to tease Donna that Jason is her favorite because of the grandkids
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Fans aren't the only ones dying to know who Donna's favorite son is — her kids want to know, too! "You've said in the past to both of us that you root for me because I've given you grandkids. I've always known that you root for Travis. So, who do you actually root for?," Jason, who has three daughters, asked his mom on New Heights with Jason and Travis Kelce.
"In this one, you have the luxury of rooting for offenses," Jason said about the 2023 Super Bowl, "but if in a battle to the death, me versus Travis, who are you rooting for?"
Dodging the question, Donna asked the same of her and Ed, to which her sons responded in laughs. Admitting defeat, Travis teased, "I gotta start breeding, I gotta start breeding." Though Donna is keen on having more grandchildren, she advised Travis to "wait until you find the right person."
"I'm gonna find a breeder, and I'm gonna get kids so that mom can love me again," Travis jokingly ended the segment.
Donna and Ed watched Travis host Saturday Night Live
Seated next to Jason in the front row, Donna and Ed watched Travis host SNL on March 5, 2023.
During his opening monologue, Travis lovingly joked about his mom.
"Probably the coolest thing about this Super Bowl was that my whole family was there," he said. "I got to play against my brother Jason, who is an Eagle. And my mom was on TV more than both of us."