Go UPSTATE.com Article

Former NFL tight end Reggie Kelly used to treat teammates to a Southern food feast after his football camps.

Kelly established an academic excellence program for students in his hometown in Aberdeen, Miss. Professional football players traveled from across the country to work and mentor students.

At the end of the day, the players dined on barbecue chicken, fried fish, cakes and pies made by Kelly’s family. Preparing a good meal was the Kelly family’s way of showing their appreciation.

His friends liked the Southern cuisine so much that it gave him an idea. The entrepreneur decided to create a line of salsas and sauces under the name of Kyvan, based on the names of his children, Kyla and Kavan. Some of his salsas are now available at local Walmart stores.

“They (teammates) talked about how good the food is down South and that is when the light went off in my wife’s head and my head,” Kelly said. “We grew up around this food and didn’t realize how good it was. So that’s when we said why not do something we love to do.”

Kelly, who has played for 13 seasons in the NFL with the Atlanta Falcons and Cincinnati Bengals, hasn’t been picked up by a team for this season, so he is working on his food line. He hopes the business will help him have an easy transition to life after football.

“I would still like to play,” he said in a telephone interview from Atlanta. “This would be my 14th season, but if I don’t, I am totally content working on my food line.”