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Super Bowl-bound Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce to Taylor Swift: 'Thanks for joining the team'

Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce thanked his girlfriend, pop superstar Taylor Swift, for “joining the team” during his podcast with his brother, Eagles center Jason Kelce

Dave Skretta
Wednesday 31 January 2024 20:10 GMT

Travis Kelce is happy to have Taylor Swift on the Kansas City Chiefs bandwagon heading to the Super Bowl.

As if that wasn't evident by their on-field smooch after the AFC title game.

On the latest episode of their “New Heights” podcast, the Chiefs tight end and his brother, Eagles center Jason Kelce, joked about how the 12-time Grammy winner has come along at just the right time. Swift began dating the younger Kelce after he invited her to a game earlier this season, and she has been a frequent attendee at Chiefs games ever since.

“Shout out to the newest member of the Chiefs Kingdom, Swift, who has officially reached the Super Bowl in her rookie year,” Jason Kelce said in the podcast released Wednesday, before Travis added with a laugh: “Shout out to Tay. Thanks for joining the team.”

Whether Swift makes it to the Super Bowl against the 49ers on Feb. 11 in Las Vegas remains to be seen.

Swift is scheduled to resume her Eras Tour next week with four shows in Tokyo. The finale is scheduled for Saturday night and should end around 10 p.m. local time, or about 5 a.m. in Las Vegas. If she took a private plane between the two cities, Swift could cover the distance in roughly 12 hours, giving her plenty of time to make it to Allegiant Stadium before kickoff.

Speaking of flights, American Airlines and United Airlines got on board, so to speak, with the Taylor-and-Travis romance this week. Flight 1989 — Swift was born that year and it's the title of her fifth studio album — will run twice from Kansas City to Las Vegas next week, while Flight 87 — Kelce's jersey number — leaves from Kansas City the day after the Super Bowl.

“To our customers who are huge sports fans, look what you made us do," American said in a statement to The Associated Press.

Kelce and Swift have tried to keep their relationship out of the spotlight, though it has become increasingly difficult. That's been especially true during game broadcasts, when networks have received pushback from NFL fans for showing too much of the “Shake It Off” singer's in-suite celebrations, often with Brittany Mahomes, wife of Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

Still, the Swift effect appears to be real when it comes to expanding the NFL audience.

CBS, which aired the Chiefs' 17-10 win over Baltimore on Sunday, shattered the AFC title game record with 55.473 viewers in the afternoon window; the previous record was 54.85 million for the Jets-Steelers game in the late window in 2011. That represented an uptick of 17% over last year's early conference championship game between San Francisco and Philadelphia.

In fact, the Chiefs-Ravens game was the most-watched non-Super Bowl program on CBS since the 1994 Winter Olympics.

That isn't all due to Swift, of course. The Chiefs, who are headed to their fourth Super Bowl in five years, are one of the league's most visible franchises. Mahomes and Kelce have played charity golf matches, the latter has hosted “Saturday Night Live” and both have become almost ubiquitous in TV ads selling everything from insurance to soup.

Chiefs coach Andy Reid said last week that he appreciates the way Kelce has focused on his job amid everything else.

“I haven’t really seen it affect him in any way," Reid said. "I haven’t seen anything with his relationship, with his off-the-field stuff, with the commercials, ‘Saturday Night Live,’ all that stuff. He just goes. I think all that plays into what he is. That’s just part of it. He does all that stuff real easy. I don’t think that gets him out of his personality and he has to change at all.”

Kelce has certainly been playing his best during the playoffs this season. He had seven catches for 71 yards in a wild-card win over Miami, five catches for 75 yards and two scores in a divisional win in Buffalo, and then he ripped apart the Ravens' seemingly impregnable defense last weekend with 11 catches on 11 targets for 116 yards and a score.

Along the way, the four-time All-Pro passed Jerry Rice for the career record for postseason receptions with 156. He matched Rice with his record eighth playoff game of at least 100 yards receiving. And his 21 playoff starts are easily a franchise record.

That's a lot for Swift — and the Chiefs — to celebrate.

“Listen, she's been great,” Reid said on SiriusXM this week. "I knew her before, from Philadelphia. Her dad played at Delaware and was a big football fan and good guy. So I had met him there, and her. And so that was the last thing Trav wanted to hear, that I knew her before him. She told him, ‘I know your coach,' and he went: ‘Oh, God. Come on!’

“She's a good girl,” Reid added, “and I'm happy for Trav. And there have been no distractions that way at all. And Trav's handled it right. She's handled it right. And we just move forward. So it hasn't been a problem at all.”

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AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl

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