Did you know 2 Black men are behind the Travis Kelce takeover?

Twin brothers André and Aaron Eanes have managed Travis Kelce’s road to stardom for over a decade.

Travis Kelce, André and Aaron Eanes, Black sports managers, Black talent managers, theGrio.com
Travis Kelce warms up before the game against the Buffalo Bills at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium on Dec. 10, 2023, in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

By any estimation, Travis Kelce had one impressive 2023. The Kansas City Chiefs tight end started the year off winning the Super Bowl with his team — and ended it winning over nearly all of America and beyond. 

Of course, a year with such a massive ascent in culture was manifested, carefully thought out, and expertly executed — by two Black men from Ohio, no less. 

Kelce’s rise in cultural fame has largely been brought to us by a pair of innovative managers, twin brothers André and Aaron Eanes. In a recent interview with the New York Times, the pair divulged their plan to make Kelce more famous than Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. 

“We positioned Travis to be world-famous,” André told the Times. “We didn’t know how it would happen, or when it would happen, or what would help push that further along. But it’s always been the thought in the back of our minds.”

So far, their successes have included Kelce hosting “Saturday Night Live,” starring in seven national commercials, co-hosting one of Spotify’s most popular podcasts with his brother, Philadelphia Eagles center Jason Kelce, a portfolio of 28 investments (managed by André), launching a clothing line with his fellow Kansas City Chiefs, and even participating in a reality dating show, “Catching Kelce.” That is, before launching a very high-profile relationship no one saw coming (which was, ironically, not part of the plan). 

Kelce’s team off the field now includes a creative strategist, four separate football agents, a community outreach coordinator, a Los Angeles-based publicist, a personal chef, a trainer, and most recently, the acclaimed Creative Artist Agency (CAA). All of this lives under an umbrella managed by the Eanes brothers, who say their managing strategy differs from traditional sports agents because, in the words of Aaron, “Agents are contract advisers.” 

This innovative managing relationship started over a decade ago when Kelce and the brothers were all in college at various schools in Ohio. While attending the University of Cincinnati, Kelce happened to be roommates with a childhood best friend of the brothers. While Aaron was studying sports management and aspiring to flip the industry on its head, André was already running his own event management business. They both quickly noticed Kelce’s star power. 

“He was always the life of the party,” André recalled. “Everyone wanted to go hang out with Travis.”

In turn, the college football star was one of the first to grasp the idea Aaron was brewing for sports management. So much so that when the brothers launched their company while still in college, Kelce was the second client they signed. 

Of their unorthodox approach to sports management, Aaron explained, “I thought instead about a music model and building a business where there’s coordination with all their external providers.” 

The Eanes’ strategy has also included social listening and trial and error, resulting in the reality dating show being a “one and done.” Despite Kelce’s seeming hyper-visibility at the moment, the duo also doesn’t plan to oversaturate his opportunities by jumping at every deal. Instead, they are focused on quality over quantity. 

The brothers aren’t just innovative thinkers; from spotting Kelce’s appeal in college to curating a successful team to support their client, they appear to have the rare ability to identify prime opportunities. They also know when to invite a new mind to the table. Since Kelce’s “SNL” appearance earlier this year and headline-making romance with Taylor Swift, Hollywood’s interest in the athlete has increased. Rather than navigate that on their own, the brothers began reaching out to Hollywood agencies, ultimately landing their client representation with industry star-makers C.A.A. 

“The awareness of Travis is much larger and with an even broader audience,” said Richard Lovett, C.A.A.’s co-chairman to the Times. “It’s accelerated that which was probably inevitable in terms of his level of awareness and appeal.”

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For the Eanes brothers, it’s just business as usual. “We’re just two guys that live in Ohio,” Aaron said. 

“People say to me, ‘Man, it’s been a crazy year,’” he added. “When I say, ‘Actually, it’s not that crazy,’ people look at me funny. It’s because it’s easy when you have a plan. We’re executing that plan.”

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