Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce: It makes perfect sense to many – The Washington Post

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EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ (Taylor’s version) – “Trayvis” isn’t quite right. “Kelswift” isn’t much better. “Travlor” is a pharmaceutical jingle waiting to be released. “Tayce” is nonsense. “Selce” sounds like an off-brand antacid. So what should we call them?

This paragraph was a test. Sure you understand it, assuming you’re part of the human population, but for those of you who don’t understand it for some reason, Taylor Swift showed up at the Kansas City Chiefs-Chicago Bears game on September 24th to support the star tight- Cheering on Chiefs end Travis Kelce. And after a week of nationwide laughter (and wishing and hoping) that the two might be compatible, Swift appeared again on Sunday night, here at MetLife Stadium for NBC’s “Sunday Night Football,” as the Chiefs took on the New York Jets and won 23-20 in a closer than expected game. (“The @Chiefs are now 2-0 with @TaylorSwift13 in attendance,” the NFL Posted to X, formerly Twitter.)

The sight of the planet’s most famous pop star jumping and shouting “LET’S F—ING GO” when one of the NFL’s most talented and charismatic players scores a touchdown would cause excitement in normal times. But it’s 2023, and so this budding love story has consumed every corner of the internet, sports media, non-sports media, sports betting apps, cable news segments, memes and text messages from fathers to daughters asking “Did you see that?” ” During September 24th Fox reps happily described the Swift-Kelce couple as “the romance we all need.” It feels like the right thing for America.”

Pop star Taylor Swift cheered on Travis Kelce and the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on September 24, fueling rumors of a relationship between the two. (Video: Jackson Barton/The Washington Post)

On Sunday, NBC just as eagerly reported Swift watching the game in a suite with a number of celebrity friends, including Blake Lively, Ryan Reynolds, Sophie Turner, Sabrina Carpenter, Antoni Porowski and Hugh Jackman. Swift spent time in the first half with Brittany Mahomes, the wife of Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, and hugged Kelce’s mother, Donna. When the Chiefs — not even Kelce — scored a touchdown, producers rushed to witness Swift’s exuberant celebration.

Commentator Cris Collinsworth once dreamily recalled Swift and Kelce leaving Arrowhead Stadium together in Kelce’s convertible on September 24, saying, “It had to be the most liberating thing Taylor Swift has done in 20 years,” fellow announcer Mike Tirico said told viewers that they originally planned to talk more about Swift’s music until the Jets made a comeback and tied the score at 20-20. “I’m sorry, Taylor,” he said. “A game broke out in front of us.”

Oh yeah – technically, football was the reason fans flocked to MetLife Stadium, and for the majority, that was the priority. But Swift’s presence made itself known, and not just through the surge in ticket sales midweek after news outlets reported that she would be at the game. Songs blared from speakers in the tailgates of the parking lot; Fans wore Eras tour T-shirts; Swifties spotted each other in the crowd and exchanged friendship bracelets, a concert tradition, and scanned the stadium with binoculars so they could get a better look at Swift in the VIP suite.

When Leila Pari was announced as the national anthem singer, someone shouted “WHY NOT TAYLOR SWIFT?” When Kelce caught a pass, a chorus of “Yeah, Taylor!” rang out. When the “Celebrity Spotlight” segment appeared on the Jumbotron, highlighting the stars in attendance (Jeremy Strong, JB Smoove, Carson Daly, Walker Hayes, Ray Romano, Sylvester Stallone’s daughters) and Swift not being there, there was a noticeable murmur in the audience Shipment quantity. Granted, she has actively campaigned against the home team, but Swift’s sheer notoriety tends to transcend party lines.

On a deeper level, the seismic reaction may not even really be about Swift and Kelce, who, according to anonymous tabloid sources, are merely in the “very, very early days” of hanging out. Perhaps the way this pairing swept the nation and instantly ascended to Brangelina and Bennifer (“Swiftce?”) status says more about us as a society and our desire to move beyond the sad state of the world and to admire the cultural explosion that occurs when you bring two rabid fan bases together.

“Intellectually it feels right. If you told me that the two greatest bastions of monoculture in America – Taylor Swift and professional football – would collide, I would tell you the result would be tremendous,” said Nora Princiotti, who covers the NFL for the Ringer and Co-author is. hosts a podcast called “Every Single Album,” which features her and former Ticketmaster boss Nathan Hubbard Analyze Swift’s career and discography. “But that doesn’t stop it from feeling surreal when you actually experience how widespread this is.”

The NFL, which isn’t exactly known for being very playful when it comes to romance, attraction and its professional athletes (but recently loosened up a bit when TikTok had an obsession with Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow), has the ecstatic news cycle happily accepted and briefly changed The X bio says “NFL (Taylor’s Version)”, a reference to the albums she re-recorded to own her masterpiece. Even The Empire State Building’s social media team joked that the building lit up in red and white to symbolize Swift taking photos at the Chiefs-Bears game next to a plate of chicken, ketchup and “apparently ranch,” a super viral became Memes Heinz quickly took advantage of this with a new spice.

Swift’s publicist did not respond to a request for comment on the madness; Kelce recently joked about the amount of attention his podcast received, but said he wouldn’t reveal any details about his personal life.

That’s all unhinged, but such zeal is not surprising when it comes to Swift, who spent this year boosting the U.S. economy by staging three-and-a-half-hour concerts at sold-out stadiums with crowds of over 70,000 singing thousands Not counting fans lining the parking lots outside after attempts to get parking tickets were thwarted. The excitement surrounding the Eras Tour — which heads overseas next year and is on track to become the first tour in history to gross $1 billion — was a wake-up call for anyone who ever doubted its enormous influence which today is often compared to Beatlemania. with glitter and friendship bracelets.

But even with her Swift-like ability to dominate the spotlight – which will only be amplified when the Eras Tour concert film hits theaters on October 13 and “1989 (Taylor’s Version)” is released at the end of the month – no one can deny their brooding taste power of Kelce.

Many Swift fans joked on social media that they had no idea who this man was (“‘Tight end’ is a real position in American football? Seriously?” one observer said asked), and TikTok is getting a lot of attention from prank videos of Swifties informing the men in their lives that Swift is going to make this Travis Kelce person famous. (The men’s reactions—the pained stutters, the indignation—make all the excitement worthwhile.)

In reality, Kelce has long been diligently working towards an NFL-related career as a celebrity – red carpet appearances, award shows, photo shoots in glossy magazines, star of his own short-lived E! dating show in 2016, “Catching Kelce.” On TikTok, he is a certified NFL heartthrob. Earlier this year, he hosted “Saturday Night Live,” where his most viral skit was an infomercial in which he appeared as the classic “Straight Male Friend.”

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“He is an outstanding sporting talent; he is a very attractive man; He is also personable and funny. If you put those three together, he’s going to be more famous than he should be,” said Jack Parodi, content creator for sports entertainment company The Game Day; He called the Swift-Kelce pairing “probably the greatest thing to happen to the NFL regular season in a long time.”

This was certainly true for some Jets fans who were demoralized in the first game of the season when new star quarterback Aaron Rodgers immediately suffered a season-ending injury. Frank Giantomasi, 38, a Jets season ticket holder from Hoboken, noted that things were looking “pretty bleak” this year, so he was glad he could stir up some excitement by wearing his bright pink “I Heart Taylor” T-shirt showed up His sister bought it when she attended the Eras Tour at MetLife in May.

“I thought I never had a chance To wear it. … “It’s a good shirt, right?” he said, seeming pleased that Swift was able to inspire more people to show up on Sunday. “I’ve been to a lot of half-empty games.”

Pop star Taylor Swift cheered on Travis Kelce and the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on September 24, fueling rumors of a relationship between the two. (Video: Jackson Barton/The Washington Post)

The stadium was also littered with red jerseys as Chiefs fans streamed in. Some were amused by the extreme attention Kelce received this week, even though they are used to him being in the news. Two Chiefs fans, Mike and Sam from Connecticut, withheld their last name as Sam brave admitted she’s “not really a Taylor Swift fan, I have to be honest with you” and worried all the headlines would be distracting. “We just want the Chiefs to win,” she said. “So as long as he’s focused on the game, you know – whatever.”

Since Swift’s appearance in the Chiefs’ suite, Kelce has gained around 900,000 followers on Instagram, for a total of 3.7 million. Sales of his jersey increased by 400 percent. Kelce has been attracting new fans since the 2023 Super Bowl. where he played against his brother, Philadelphia Eagles center Jason Kelce. Coverage of the Kelce Bowl sparked adorable viral clips (in one, Jason sobbed into his mother’s arms after the Chiefs won the game and told her to “go party with Trav”) as well as more attention on the Kelces: “New Heights,” where they discuss football and make fun of each other like only brothers do. Of course, Trav stole a few scenes from his brother’s recent Prime Video documentary “Kelce.”

“That’s gasoline thrown on the fire, his fan base with their fan base,” said “Sunday Night Football” coordinating producer Rob Hyland, whose work week suddenly became much more interesting when it became clear to everyone that Swift was going to show up and drive a tremendous amount of attention for broadcasting the Chiefs Jets. The last time a Sunday night broadcast drew this much attention might have been Tom Brady’s first game against the New England Patriots in 2021 after joining the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he said.

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Hyland said the team spent the week preparing as if Swift were at the game: A promo performed their song “Welcome to New York” and “The Voice” host Daly appeared in a pre-recorded segment in which he taught football to the Swifties, using numerous lyrical puns. Such a storyline would be ideal for “Sunday Night Football,” Hyland said, which likes to have “make you smile” moments alongside the game to attract new viewers. It’s part of what he calls the “NBC Sports storytelling DNA,” familiar to anyone who’s watched the network’s Olympic coverage, which features an athlete’s family, friends and personal story.

“It’s quite a scene to see Travis Kelce’s mother, Donna,” Hyland said. “Add Taylor Swift to that picture and you have TV magic.”

Although Travis Kelce has a hot-headed reputation on the field — racking up penalties and fines, hitting a teammate during training camp — many football fans describe him as an intense competitor who also enjoys drinking beer and shooting in the middle of his team’s Super Bowl parade . “They see him as a guy you would want to be friends with,” Parodi said.

In that sense, Kelce and Swift’s fan bases have a lot in common: Swift built her 17-year career on treating her listeners like close friends. They feel like she knows them, and they know her. And after six years of her very private relationship with British actor Joe Alwyn (whom she split from in March), they’re thrilled just to see her in public.

Kelsey Moore, 26, of New York, couldn’t get tickets to the Eras Tour at MetLife earlier this year – when her boyfriend saw the news on Bleacher Report that Swift would be at Sunday’s game, she rushed to buy tickets Prices inevitably rose.

“I suspect she’s enjoying being back in the spotlight,” Moore said. “And as a fan, I’m enjoying all the content we’re getting post-pandemic when we couldn’t watch it.”

It didn’t matter that she was sitting in the 300 seats, nowhere near the superstar’s suite. The entire experience was worth it, she said, especially the feeling of being part of a community with other Swift fans in attendance: “The experience of exchanging friendship bracelets with young women and middle-aged men alike was strangely affirming and beautiful.”

Kelce immediately endeared himself to the Swift fan base when he gushed on a podcast this summer about joining the Eras Tour and how he hoped to give the singer his phone number on a friendship bracelet, and that’s how it all started. The fact that he knew about the bracelets was one thing, but he clearly knows their work and mentioned the name of a fan-favorite song while joking about it as they sped away in a “getaway car” after the game last week.

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“It’s kind of funny to me to see how he presents himself as a fan of hers,” said Princiotti, the wrestling reporter and podcast host. “He talked about her on his podcast the same way Swifties talk about her.”

This could also be why the NFL is so keen to get involved. The success of the Eras Tour, which featured people of all ages, including celebrities and soccer players, helped combat the outdated notion that Swift’s music was “only for teenage girls” and instead cemented her as a once-in-a-generation pop star . It’s a positive story about the NFL, which has had some bad press, And It’s no surprise that every company wants to claim Swift as one of their own.

There’s no telling where it goes, the combined capital and star output is almost too bright, but it’s guaranteed to attract attention as long as they want us to watch it. With that in mind, a good nickname for the couple might be one that others have been circulating on social media: “TnT,” a fitting word for a story that keeps blowing up.

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