The planet’s biggest pop star met America’s biggest sport, and heads collectively exploded. Here are the moments people got happy, sad, angry or annoyed.
Way back in July, Travis Kelce, the Kansas City Chiefs’ star tight end, publicly offered himself as a potential suitor for Taylor Swift, whose Eras Tour had catapulted her beyond her already stratospheric fame.
Few could have imagined that on the eve of the Super Bowl, we’d all be here.
During the six months between Travis’s metaphorical Hail Mary and Sunday’s very real sports contest, most of America — and much of the world — has been horse-collared into their romance. There is a relentless, inescapable and, sometimes fatiguing quality to this Swift-Kelce monocultural vortex. Boy met girl, football fans met Swifties and each new development became a cause for hyperventilation.
Now, as kickoff approaches, we look back at some of the key meetings and the extreme emotions those meetings have engendered.
“This all started when Travis very adorably put me on blast on his podcast, which I thought was metal as hell,” Taylor told the magazine (making us question her definition of “metal”). “We started hanging out right after that. So we actually had a significant amount of time that no one knew, which I’m grateful for, because we got to get to know each other. By the time I went to that first game, we were a couple. I think some people think that they saw our first date at that game? We would never be psychotic enough to hard launch a first date.”
Any of the remaining doubters: So I guess I have to pay attention to all this now?
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Football fans meet their wits’ end
Some football fans (and former coaches) grow tired of seeing Taylor Swift during N.F.L. broadcasts. Why, they ask, must the camera repeatedly pan away from the game and show Taylor in a luxury suite? (The truth, of course, is more complicated.)
Frustration bubbles in Kansas City as the Chiefs, the defending Super Bowl champions, struggle on the field. The team loses three of its five games in December, an ugly stretch during which Travis does not catch a single touchdown.
After a particularly abysmal loss in a nationally televised game on Christmas Day — Travis is seen throwing a tantrum on the sideline — the Taylor fatigue boils over. Some correlate the Chiefs’ failures to the couple’s relationship, arguing that it is a distraction to Travis and his team.
Football heads: Taylor Swift has ruined my favorite sport! Get her off my screen!
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Fox News meets Taylor
Eventually, the Fox News host Jesse Watters goes further, suggesting on air that Taylor is a Defense Department asset engaging in psychological warfare.
An entire news cycle springs out of the right’s newfound obsession with Taylor and the mounting anxiety on both sides of the aisle about whether she will offer an endorsement in the 2024 presidential election.
“I think the idea that this was a script, that this was preplanned, that’s nonsense,” Roger Goodell, the N.F.L. commissioner, said at a news conference on Monday. “It’s frankly not even worth talking about. We see two people together having fun together. That’s wonderful. I wish them well. They’re both wonderful people.”
The Make America Great Again contingent of the G.O.P.: The N.F.L. is rigged in order to spread the left’s propaganda!
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Taylor meets a big coat and a man without a shirt
At the Chiefs’ frigid first-round playoff game against the Miami Dolphins, Taylor wears a puffer coat resembling Travis’s No. 87 jersey — a coat we would soon discover was designed by Kristin Juszczyk, the spouse of the San Francisco 49ers fullback Kyle Juszczyk. The N.F.L. agrees to a licensing deal with Kristin in short order.
The next weekend, Taylor goes to Travis’s game in Orchard Park, N.Y., and gets acquainted with his brother (and podcast co-host), Jason. Jason was able to attend the Chiefs game because his own team, the Philadelphia Eagles, had been knocked out of the playoffs a week earlier.
Jason takes his shirt off in the luxury suite as he cheers on the Chiefs amid a sea of raucous Buffalo Bills fans. Down on the field, Travis makes Taylor’s signature heart-hands gesture after scoring a touchdown.
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Taylor and Travis meet … on the field
Taylor and Travis celebrate together on the field after the Chiefs win the A.F.C. Championship game. They hug and kiss and microphones seem to capture Travis telling Taylor he loves her, and Taylor replying: “I’ve never been so proud of anyone, ever.”
Millennials: My hope in romance is restored!
Those uninterested in at least two more weeks of Taylor-Travis discourse: (*Groan*)
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The Super Bowl
One week after dominating a Sunday night broadcast on CBS by setting the all-time Grammys record for album of the year wins and announcing a new album, will it once again be the Taylor show, same time, same channel?
By Emmanuel Morgan and Matt Stevens