FLOWERY BRANCH – Reggie Kelly has no plans to retire after his just-completed 13th season in the NFL. He is getting a jump on his post-football career – with a touch of southern cooking.
The Falcons tight end has developed a line of salsas, seasonings and sauces inspired by family recipes from his home in Mississippi. According to Kelly, his hot and mild salsas will appear at Walmart in Atlanta, South Carolina and Kentucky starting Jan. 23. The products will be released under the name KYVAN, after Kelly’s children Kyla and Kavan.
“I have a lot of ideas and things I want to do,” Kelly said as the Falcons prepare for Sunday’s playoff game against the Giants. “I’ve been playing football for a long time and I still enjoy playing the game but I know there are a lot of resources that I’m going to take advantage of while I’m playing this game. When I do finally retire, I want to have a smooth transition from the game of football. This will give me that.”
Kelly is an unrestricted free agent. Although it’s very early in the Falcons’ offseason, he has yet to be contacted by the team.
The veteran runs an annual football camp in his hometown of Aberdeen. The free camp is for youth that have shown academic excellence. Kelly invites teammates from throughout his career to help with the camp. Each year at its conclusion, Kelly’s family cooks for the participants. It’s a big hit.
“They would always rave about how good the food is down south and how hard it is to duplicate that flavor anywhere else,” Kelly said. “So my wife and I came up with the idea, if people really enjoy it that much, why not give people that down south flavor everywhere.”
Kelly said he’s been working on the project since 2005. Some of his products are already available in Mississippi and Cincinnati, where he spent seven seasons. Kelly has other products, including barbecue, hot wing, Asian, sesame-garlic and hot sauces and chicken, steak and hamburger seasoning, and a barbecue rub.
“My family was pretty cool about it,” Kelly said of gathering recipes. “That’s the way it’s been my whole life. The elders, grandparents, uncles, aunts, my dad and mom, they’ve always wanted to leave a legacy behind to the next generation. They are excited about it.”