Travis and Jason Kelce meme: The story behind unflattering college photo before NFL brothers' glow-up

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Travis Kelce, Jason Kelce
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To say that 2023 has been a banner year for the Kelce family would be an understatement.

It began when Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce and Eagles center Jason Kelce squared off in Super Bowl 57. The "Kelce Bowl" became arguably the biggest story ahead of the game, and the attention granted to the brothers allowed their mother Donna to emerge as a celebrity in her own right.

The Kelce tour didn't slow down after the Super Bowl. Travis hosted "Saturday Night Live" after the Chiefs won the big game. The brothers have also appeared in numerous commercials, the most notable of which (for Campbell's Chunky Soup) featuring Donna.

Oh yeah, Travis has also started dating Taylor Swift, a move that has brought a lot of attention to his life both on and off the field. So too has Jason being included among the runner's up for People Magazine's "Sexiest Man Alive."

As a result, the Kelces are starting to benefit from one of the perks that fame has to offer; they are now the subject of one of the most popular memes on the Internet.

MORE: What to know about the Kelce brothers' song on the Eagles Christmas album

What is the meme and where did it originate? Here's what to know about the viral Kelce brothers image circulating on social media.

Travis and Jason Kelce meme

The meme of the Kelce brothers originated on Saturday, Nov. 11 when Zach Blandford posted a picture of Travis and Jason during their college days at Cincinnati. The post contained within it a simple, fact-based caption.

"One of these guys was a finalist for sexiest man alive and the other is dating Taylor Swift," the post read.

Naturally, Blandford's post took off, garnering nearly 5 million views in five days after it was posted. Many seemed to enjoy seeing what the Kelce brothers looked like before their respective glow-ups in the NFL.

Even Donna Kelce enjoyed seeing the photo. She made to share the photo of her sons on her Facebook page Tuesday.

MORE: Jason Kelce named 'Sexiest Man Alive' finalist for 2023

Travis and Jason Kelce college photo

The photo of the Kelce brothers is something to behold. It isn't clear exactly what year it was taken, but both Travis and Jason were wearing Cincinnati uniforms. The two played together there from 2008-10, so it can be presumed that is when the photo was taken.

Either way, the picture provides a reminder that college football players are, in fact, young. Travis looks like he's hardly out of high school, while his brother — who now sports a long beard and tips the scales at 295 pounds — hardly looks like an immovable object.

Naturally, the appearance of the Kelces in that picture captured the attention of fans on social media. Many tried to figure out exactly what and who they looked like in this one while celebrating how far the two have come since their college days.

Neither Travis nor Jason has commented on the photo going viral to date, but perhaps they will address it on their "New Heights" podcast at some point.

MORE: How did Travis Kelce meet Taylor Swift?

Where did Kelce brothers go to college?

Both Jason and Travis Kelce went to Cincinnati. Both enjoyed solid careers playing under Brian Kelly and Butch Jones before making their respective jumps to the pros.

Jason began his career as a walk-on linebacker in 2006. He eventually switched positions to the offensive line, and after seeing action at guard and center in 2007, he eventually became the team's starting left guard in 2008. He held onto that position for two seasons, starting 26 total games and being named a second-team All-Big East honoree in 2009.

During his redshirt senior season in 2010, Jason was moved to center. He made 12 starts for the team there and performed well enough to be drafted in the sixth round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Eagles. He has remained in Philadelphia ever since.

Travis was better regarded as a recruit than his brother, but he was still just a two-star prospect, and there were questions about whether he would play tight end or quarterback at the college level. The Bearcats used him primarily as a tight end but allowed him to operate as a quarterback at times, too.

The younger Kelce brother wasn't a large part of Cincinnati's offense in his early days with the program. That was thanks in part to a year-long suspension for a failed drug test during the 2010 season. But by his senior season in 2012, he had developed into a threatening vertical weapon at tight end. That allowed him to log 45 catches, 722 yards and eight touchdowns during the campaign.

Travis' athletic potential, along with his brother's success with the Eagles, allowed him to become a third-round pick by the Chiefs in the 2013 NFL Draft. He is arguably the best player to come out of that historically weak class and has spent his entire career in Kansas City.

MORE: Breaking down Travis Kelce's stats with and without Taylor Swift in attendance

How many Kelce brothers are there?

There are just two Kelce brothers: Jason and Travis.

That said, before Super Bowl 57, CBS created the character "Shawn Kelce," the third Kelce brother. They did so to promote a video sketch with which they were somehow able to get Donna Kelce involved.

You can see the full sketch below:

It's hard to blame CBS for coming up with a Cooper Manning-like foil to the two Kelces in the NFL. But alas, there is no third Kelce brother. It's just Jason and Travis.

Jacob Camenker Photo

Jacob Camenker is a senior content producer at The Sporting News.