MOULTRIE NEWS: Reggie Kelly: Part NFL player, part chef
For 12 years and counting, NFL fans found out Reggie Kelly was a good tight end. Of the 184 games he played, he started 149, amassing nearly 2,000 yards from 195 receptions.
Now, we’ll see how good of a chef Kelly is after he launched a food line of hot and mild salsa with plans for more ‘southern treats’ in the future.
He gained an appreciation for cooking growing up in Mississippi.
‘Where I’m from, we (family) make any excuse to get together,’ Kelly said. ‘And whenever we get together, we’re always grilling out or cooking. It makes for great times and great relationships. Cooking is just second nature to me.’
Kelly, 37, is starting to explore what life after football will be like. Currently, he is a free agent, having spent seven years with the Cincinnati Bengals and five with the Atlanta Falcons.
He said he’s letting his agent take care of finding him a team next year. For now, he’s enjoying his time in Atlanta waiting for a phone call from his potential new team. ‘I’ve been through this before,’ he said. ‘I normally just sit back and enjoy this process.’
Kelly is confident he’ll continue his NFL career next season, but said even if he doesn’t get signed, he’s ‘in a good place.’
‘If I get a chance, great,’ he said. ‘If I don’t, I’m still grateful for all the opportunities I had.’
Kelly’s mild and hot salsa is available in Walmart stores throughout South Carolina, including Mount Pleasant. The brand name is called KYVAN, inspired by his daughter Kyla and his son Kavan.
The idea was formulated in 2005, but the line was officially launched this year. Kelly and his wife started pursuing cooking as professionals after throwing a football camp in their local town. Both grew up together and are ‘high school sweethearts,’ as Kelly noted.
‘My family and my wife’s family cooked for everybody and everybody loved it,’ he said.
‘That’s when a light bulb went off, and we said if people really like this, we can sell this… people have been responding very well.’
Having a professional football career to his name has helped bring the idea to fruition, but Kelly said he can’t rely on that alone to make KYVAN successful. ‘Being an NFL player, it gives me a lot of credibility and influence,’ he said. ‘I know within time, the NFL name can only go so far and people have to have good products that they really enjoy.’
The salsas have ingredients featuring honey, apples and peppers. ‘It gives you some sweetness and a kick at the end,’ he said.
Also featured on his website – kyvan82.com – are jambalaya sauce, BBQ sauce, honey apple butter and blackberry flavored honey. Seasonings and dry BBQ rubs are coming soon.
Recipes are readily available online, as well, including salsa burgers, chicken tacos and shrimp salsa.
Kelly said his food and recipes are ideal for tailgating during football season. ‘I just enjoy the game of football. I’m a country boy from Mississippi,’ he said. ‘I grew up watching football after church.’
In southern culture, Kelly is a dual-threat: family cooking and football.