Baltimore Ravens kicker Justin Tucker said that the attention being paid to his pregame interaction with Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and tight end Travis Kelce is silly, dismissing it as “gamesmanship” and the product of an “intense” environment before Sunday’s AFC Championship Game.
Cameras caught Tucker having words with both Mahomes and Kelce during warmups, the exchange culminating with Kelce tossing Tucker’s helmet aside.
“The way it works is each team’s kicker goes to the other team’s designated warmup area on the field. For me, it’s usually 90 minutes before kickoff. I’ve been doing the exact same thing for 12 years, never really had a problem with anybody,” Tucker said Monday, as he and his teammates cleaned out their lockers a day after a season-ending 17-10 loss to the Chiefs.
“That’s just kind of the way we’ve always done it and the way kickers around the league have always done it,” Tucker continued. “I saw Patrick there trying to warm up and get some dropbacks.
“He asked me while I was on the ground stretching, if I could move my helmet. So I happily got up and I moved my helmet out of the way. At least, I think it was enough out of the way. And then Travis comes over and just kicks my stuff and he throws my helmet. I just thought it was all some gamesmanship, all in good fun. But it seemed to be taken a little more seriously.”
Travis Kelce told Justin Tucker he needed to move because their QB Patrick Mahomes had to warm up. So Kelce kicked his ball away and threw his helmet. 😂 pic.twitter.com/pFF0DC1yA7
— James Palmer (@JamesPalmerTV) January 28, 2024
Tucker said he’s fine letting the incident go, but he seemed miffed at the perception that he was trying to interrupt the Chiefs’ pregame workout.
“It’s not like I’m out there trying to be problematic,” he said. “I’m just trying to get ready for the football game just like they are. And that’s all I’ve got to really say about that.”
Tucker said he doesn’t remember an opponent taking umbrage with his pregame routine before.
“At the end of the day, we’re all professionals just trying to get ready for the football game,” Tucker said. “Those are two of the best players that have ever played the game at their respective positions. They’re just trying to get ready for the football game. It’s really whatever to me, man. I’m just trying to get ready for the football game.”
Tucker’s interaction with Mahomes and Kelce wasn’t the only pregame spat. Ravens cornerback Arthur Maulet had to be restrained from a few of the Chiefs’ defensive backs who were warming up near midfield. Maulet was ushered away by a Ravens assistant coach ahead of the game.
(Photo: Rob Carr / Getty Images)