In Week 2 of the 2018 NFL season, the idea of National Tight Ends Day was born. Facing the Detroit Lions, San Francisco 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo threw an 11-yard touchdown to now-retired TE Garrett Celek. After watching his pass catcher drag two defenders into the end zone, Garoppolo said one sentence that would leave a lasting legacy — a holiday even.
What is National Tight Ends Day?
According to the 49ers’ website, TE George Kittle later recalled, “We were on the sidelines after Celek’s score when Jimmy asked, ‘What is it, like National Tight Ends Day?.’ I was like, ‘yeah, it’s National Tight Ends Day. It’s a holiday. Tight ends all over the league are scoring touchdowns.’ That’s how it came to be. We just kind of rolled with it.”
Garoppolo added, “I was just trying to get them fired up. Then Celek goes and scores the first touchdown, so it worked pretty well.”
Jimmy G fired up his teammates for more than one play, as Kittle took the phrase and ran with it. For the rest of that season — presumably to this day — Kittle saw every game as National Tight Ends Day.
That simple phrase pushed him to prepare smarter, work harder, and be the best teammate possible. Tight ends pass protect, pancake defenders in the run game, break tackles, run routes, and score touchdowns. That laundry list of items will have anyone asking for a position switch. That is what makes the athletes that excel at TE so special. They are truly the Swiss Army Knife of the offense — particularly in 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan’s system.
When is National Tight Ends Day in 2021?
After catching on to San Francisco’s special occasion, the NFL officially named the fourth Sunday in the month of October as National Tight Ends Day. Tight ends across the league were first celebrated on the biggest stage in Week 8 of the 2019 campaign.
During that inaugural week, TEs sported custom cleats, throwback jerseys, and paid homage to the players before them who paved the way for the position. The NFL had various tight ends wired with microphones for their matchups, hoping to capture the humans under the helmets.
While the Travis Kelces, Rob Gronkowskis, and Darren Wallers of the world hear their names called every week, the special occasion is about highlighting the contributions of TEs in all facets of the game. As Kittle put it, “You have incredible tight ends that aren’t shown every single week, but being able to do this will definitely show people, ‘oh hot damn, there are some good tight ends.’ It will be fun.”
The football holiday may be held just one day a year, but that shouldn’t stop you from appreciating TE success every week. It sure doesn’t stop Kittle:
“I celebrate National Tight Ends Day every Sunday. I root for every single tight end across the league to do very, very well because I want to watch tight ends succeed. Except for the one that I’m playing that Sunday. Other than that, I always want tight ends to score as many touchdowns, get as many yards, do great in the run game. I just like seeing the position do really well.”