Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce Are Forcing Girls to Care About Football

Photo Illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast/Getty
Photo Illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast/Getty

The Taylor Swift Boyfriend Cinematic Universe is rife with ambitious crossovers. There was, for instance, her dalliance this year with Matty Healy, the dirtbag lead singer of The 1975, which incensed her fans to the point of mania; and her years-ago fling with a young member of the Kennedy dynasty. But her latest love interest is in a different league altogether—literally.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock the size of Missouri, you’re aware that Swift spent her Sunday afternoon screaming in the VIP booth at Arrowhead Stadium as she cheered on Travis Kelce, superstar tight end for the Kansas City Chiefs, and a noted Swift admirer.

For the girls at home, it must be noted: Kelce is 6-foot-5 and hot in the most conventionally American way possible, unlike Swift’s recent spate of artistic British paramours (read: skinny dorks). There’s something so satisfying about seeing her on the arm of an adult man who actually looks like an adult man, and not someone who got lost in the stock room of Hot Topic.

Anyway, it all started back in July. “I was disappointed that she doesn’t talk before or after her shows because she has to save her voice for the 44 songs that she sings,” Kelce said earlier this summer on his New Heights podcast, which he co-hosts with his brother, fellow NFL star Jason Kelce. “So I was a little butt-hurt I didn’t get to hand her one of the bracelets I made for her.”

Yep, Kelce went to the Eras Tour, just like the rest of us, and he made her a special friendship bracelet: “I received a bunch of them being there, but I wanted to give Taylor Swift one with my number on it.”

Whether anything would come of his overture was uncertain until last week, when Kelce shared on ESPN, “I threw the ball in her court and told her, ‘I’ve seen you rock the stage in Arrowhead. You might have to come see me rock the stage in Arrowhead and see which one’s a little more lit.’”

Following these delightfully cocky-boy comments, it now appears to be undeniable that the two are an item: Swift clearly took him up on the dare.

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After the game—where the Chiefs dominated the Chicago Bears and Swift was filmed chatting animatedly with Kelce’s mom—the NFL star and the world’s biggest pop star were seen driving away into the literal sunset in his convertible, like they were in a goddamn music video. (“You Belong With Me,” anyone?)

Swifties delighting at the footage of Swift losing her shit at a football game was to be expected, but just as satisfying were the reactions of the hardened athletic pros who seemed gobsmacked by her star power. During the game, ESPN announcers essentially abandoned talking logistics to comment on Swift; MVP Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes was caught tossing a shy wave her way; headset-wearing line coaches were filmed gawking up at the stands and exclaiming in slo-mo, “That’s Taylor Swift? Oh, shit.”

And lest you think the mania is overblown, the numbers reflect just how seismic her appearance was: A whopping 24.32 million people tuned into the game on Sunday, making it the most-watched NFL broadcast of the week. It was also the highest-rated NFL game of the week for women in three different age groups: 12-17, 18-34, and 18-49.

The attention spike wasn’t just in the ratings. Sales of Kelce’s jerseys leapt 400 percent in one day due to the Taylor Effect, and searches for Chiefs game tickets on Stubhub have reportedly tripled since this weekend.

The NFL’s official social media channels even adapted, albeit briefly, to include all things Swift. Their Tiktok account’s new bio is “9/24/23. Taylor was here.” Meanwhile, Swifties have hilariously been getting each other up to speed on NFL rules and how to talk about football.

“Travis Kelce’s had a lot of big catches in his career,” Bill Belichick, the no-nonsense head coach of the New England Patriots, cheekily weighed in this week. “This would be the biggest.”

In one viral tweet, a woman surmised that the budding relationship between Swift and Kelce could just be an “amazing marketing play” (she said as such because she claims to work “for a company that works with the NFL and one of their main targets this year is to have women feel included”). And while that claim should certainly be taken with a big grain of salt, the brand-dovetailing between pop music-obsessed Swifties and the hyper-masculine National Football League is nothing to sneeze at. (Neither the NFL nor Kelce or Swift’s camps have returned The Daily Beast’s requests for comment on their relationship.)

To put a cherry on top of the content sundae, the brothers Kelce dropped the latest episode of their podcast on Wednesday, in which they wisely addressed the topic at hand.

“She looked amazing,” Travis said of Swift’s presence at the game. “Everyone was talking about her. It was definitely a game I will remember.” He even slyly referenced a fan-favorite track off Reputation by adding, “We just slid off in the ‘Getaway Car’ at the end.”

“What’s real is that it is my personal life and I want to respect both of our lives,” the tight end continued. “I am enjoying life and I sure as hell enjoyed this weekend, so everything moving forward, me talking about sports and saying ‘alright nah’ will have to be kinda where I keep it.”

Let me translate for you: Kelce is a total gentleman, but yeah, they’re totally together. See you at the Super Bowl, Swifties.

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