The hidden talent of an NFL standout – his secret revealed

Most great things in life are often discovered by accident. You know, things like Post-It notes, potato chips, microwave ovens, fireworks, Scotchgard, Corn Flakes, and even chocolate chip cookies! Now imagine a line of truly Southern, delicious soul food that’ll change the way you cook. No more average, boring meals. Prepare to wake up your food!

This food invention comes from an unexpected source. He’s a 6-foot-4 tall former Mississippi State tight end. An NFL player, who first signed with the Atlanta Falcons, then played with the Cincinnati Bengals. He later returned to play with the Falcons. Today, he’s a free agent. It’s not what this man did on the football field that is a hidden talent. His secret is in the family recipes.

Reggie Kelly grew up in Aberdeen, Mississippi. When first meeting him, you’ll quickly discover that he’s a gentle giant of a person. Reggie’s career in the NFL is impressive, and what he and his wife have created outside of football is nothing short of awesome! I caught up with Reggie at the Market Street Festival in Columbus a few weekend’s ago, with my son Denver, to talk about his delicious venture and those secret family recipes.

“My wife and I love giving back to the community during holidays, and we like doing things to help with the elderly,” Kelly said. “One of the most rewarding things we’ve done is host an academic excellence football camp for kids. Some of my NFL buddies from across the country come together for these camps to reward kids with good grades.” After the camps, Reggie cooks for the kids and volunteers. “Folks have always commented on how much they love our seasonings. They really love the southern flavor and soul food goodness of our family recipes.”

The rest is history! After all the accolades from friends and others, Reggie Kelly decided to start a business using his super-secret family recipes and share that soulful goodness with everyone. The name of his company is a combination of his son and daughter’s names – Kavan and Kyla. Thus was born the name Kyvan. “Because this company represents the names of our children, this food line has to represent the best, most unique flavors found anywhere,” he said. Reggie Kelly is a man who certainly hasn’t forgotten his beginnings. The manufacturing facility for Kyvan foods is right here in his hometown of Aberdeen!

“I enjoy coming home as often as possible,” Kelly says. “There’s nothing in the world better than coming here to Mississippi where everybody is so genuine. We get together with folks for fellowship, friendship, family, where everybody loves good cooking, football, and amazing food… that’s the Mississippi experience!” After sampling some of his Sweet BBQ sauce, Hot Wing Sauce, and that incredible Honey Apple Salsa, I can honestly say that you can pour any of those on a piece of cardboard and devour it! That sweet BBQ sauce is nothing shy of the best sauce that I’ve ever tried (and I’ve sampled my share of BBQ sauces).

Reggie Kelly is a success both on and off the football field. His quiet demeanor and downhome personality quickly endear him to you. Reggie is one of those people that you meet for the first time and would swear you’ve know him your entire life. I asked what advice he’d give to others. “Do the little things right and the big things will follow,” he quickly said. “We have to lay a foundation for success, and never let anybody box you in a corner. If you work hard, dreams become your reality.” His last piece of advice was, “Do your best, and God will take care of the rest.”

With their Kyvan food line, there’s a little piece of the Kelly family in every bottle that ships all over the world. Kelly said that his grandmother used to say, “when you cook, do it with love; it touches your soul.” Hence the Kyvan company line… soul food selections. Now that’s motivation to fire up the Big Green Egg, smother that Kyvan Sweet BBQ sauce over some chicken and grill until your heart’s content!

In my next piece, I’ll be grilling with Reggie’s Sweet BBQ Sauce and reporting on how friends and family liked it. In the meantime, you can find Kyvan soul food selections in some grocery stores or order online. The sauce and salsa that we tried was simply the best, most flavorful, and uniquely delicious! The hot wing sauce was packed with deep rich flavors without the heat. Reggie says that in every bottle sold, you’ll be able to “appreciate the goodness!”

Without question, Reggie Kelly is a successful NFL football player. He is also a smart and successful businessman with an inviting, delicious line of food items that really do feed your soul. The side of Reggie that he doesn’t talk much about is his desire to help and give back. Just as he headquarters his production facility in Mississippi to provide jobs to the people here, Reggie’s giant heart reaches out to those in need. After the Smithville tornado, he was there to help folks recover. After the Moore, Oklahoma, tornado, Reggie Kelly was there to help folks after that disaster, too. So when I see his Kyvan tag line that says “Appreciate the Goodness,” it says to me that Reggie Kelly not only shares the goodness of his family sauces, he also shares the goodness from his heart when people are in need.

Now you know the hidden talent of this NFL standout… his soulful, delicious, secret family recipes that you can share!

Coming up next, grilling with some of that tantalizing, sweet, tangy out-of-this-world, Mississippi-made Kyvan Sweet BBQ sauce! You’re gonna wanna buy this by the case to share with your friends and family. Tweet with me @TheDonnaEchols or drop me a story idea on email at donnaechols@gmail.com. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve gotta fire up the Big Green Egg and let that grilled chicken swim in some Kyvan Sweet BBQ Sauce!