In between selling out stadiums and continuing her project of rerecording her albums, Taylor Swift found the time to attend a Kansas City Chiefs football game on Sunday, sending Swifties and ESPN subscribers alike into a frenzy. This was shocking not because she was decked out in Chiefs gear as an Eagles fan, but because, recently, there have been whispers that the pop star is getting cozy with none other than Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce. The romance rumors, fanned even further by the flames of Swift’s appearance at the game, have been heralded as the ultimate crossover event, a true collision of fandoms, and, it must be said, a comeback opportunity for Swift after the humiliation of her previous alleged relationship. But who, some football-ambivalent Swifties may be wondering, even is Travis Kelce? Below, our best attempt at a Kelce crash course.
So, who is this guy?
Travis Kelce (commonly pronounced like “Kelsey,” though that seems to be up for debate) is the star tight end of the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs—that’s Kansas City, Missouri, not Kansas City, Kansas—who play at Arrowhead Stadium (that will be important info later on). He was born in 1989 (wink, wink), making him 33 years, 6 feet, and 5 inches of foine.
Is he any good at football?
It’s widely accepted that Travis Kelce is currently the best tight end in the NFL, and maybe even among the best of all time. Tight ends are versatile in that the position allows for both blocking other players like an offensive lineman and/or catching passes like a receiver. Of the pass-catching variety of tight ends, Kelce is the best, boasting an impressive seven-season streak of more than 1,000 receiving yards. With the Chiefs, Kelce has won two Super Bowls and seven consecutive divisional titles. He’s been selected for the Pro Bowl eight times, and is a four-time First Team All-Pro chosen player. He’s also broken receiving records, like the fastest tight end to reach 10,000 receiving yards. If you don’t know what any of that means, allow me to translate: Yes, he’s pretty darn good.
Wait, why does his name sound so familiar? Should I know who he is?
Kelce is one of the more well-known NFL players currently working. His team won the Super Bowl last year, and because he’s the most famous player on the team outside of the starting quarterback, Patrick Mahomes, you may have seen him around. Kelce has been in a handful of commercials, and he even hosted Saturday Night Live.
However, you actually might have heard the surname because of Travis’ older brother, Jason Kelce, another famous football player who is a beloved center for the Philadelphia Eagles. The two Kelce brothers went head-to-head in this year’s Super Bowl when the Chiefs faced off against the Eagles, marking the first time in Super Bowl history that brothers played against each other in the big game. It was lovingly dubbed the “Kelce Bowl,” though the boys discouraged individualist marketing for a team sporting event. Jason Kelce recently released Kelce, a documentary about his career and last season’s big showdown, which I lovingly deemed the most Philly sports movie ever. The two brothers also co-host a popular sports podcast called New Heights.
Huh, sounds like Pennsylvania native Taylor Swift might have more in common with the other brother, instead.
True, if only Jason Kelce weren’t a happily married father of three! The pop princess hails from Reading, Pennsylvania, making her a born and bred Eagles fan. Which, yes, makes the situation of her dating a famous Eagles player’s even more famous younger brother after the Eagles lost to said younger brother’s team in the most recent Super Bowl … pretty funny.
So what’s Travis Kelce’s deal?
You may be pleased to learn that Kelce is objectively one of the hottest NFL players, in terms of looks and fame. In addition to the ad spots, the stuff with his brother, and the SNL hosting gig, Kelce is pretty well-known as the NFL’s resident bachelor, even going so far as to be the lead of a dating competition show, Catching Kelce, in 2016.
He’s not necessarily known as a player, but he does have the image of the fun guy of the team, the one who’s blamed when the guys party a little too hard because he’s likely the one who convinced them to go out. He’s got a certain swagger—which sometimes manifests in the form of a Blaccent—and is super into fashion, making him one of the more stylish pro ballers. (Interestingly, his style has evolved under the influence of his on-again, off-again girlfriend, a very cool Black on-air sports reporter named Kayla Nicole, with whom Kelce broke up last year.)
In conclusion: He’s the cool guy, you know?
Fine, I trust you. But he seems a little different from the people Swift usually dates.
You mean not a frail Englishman who thinks he’s much more intelligent than everyone else? Or a rather basic Englishman? Or an older Englishman? Or even a heavily tattooed Englishman who writes the occasional bop? If by different, you mean Grade-A , all-American beef, then yes, he is different. This tweet perfectly encapsulates it: Taylor Swift is known for dating boys; Travis Kelce is a man.
And a bold one, at that! Kelce apparently made the first move, confirming on The Pat McAfee Show that the rumors of him and Swift dating weren’t entirely false—he invited her to watch him play, saying, “I’ve seen you rock the stage at Arrowhead, you might have to come see me rock the stage at Arrowhead, and see which one’s a little more lit.” And, lo and behold, she did.
She really did! She seemed to be super into it.
Swift traded her Eagles sweatshirt for a Chiefs windbreaker and watched the game next to Kelce’s mother, Donna. It was a great game for the Chiefs, who knew Swift was watching and put on a show, winning 41–10 over the Bears. Swift screamed, “Let’s fucking go” when Kelce got a touchdown, seemed to really enjoy herself, and even tried to impress Kelce’s parents by cleaning up a bit. Then, the two departed the stadium together. It’s reported that Kelce rented out an entire restaurant for an afterparty, which he and the singer attended together alongside his family and teammates.
Oh yeah, wasn’t Kelce wearing an outfit called “The 1989” or something?
Nah, that’s sort of a joke. The white-and-blue matching denim set, made by KidSuper, was originally titled “Bedroom Painting” and then renamed “1989 Bedroom Painting” after Kelce was seen escorting Swift out of the stadium in it.
What does all of this mean for Tay Tay? Will it last?
Well, the first thing to point out is that it’s good PR for both parties. Kelce gets pieces like this one written about him, making him leagues more relevant to non-football-watching audiences than he previously was. Swifties will probably run the New Heights podcast entirely through to make sure he hasn’t said anything uncouth. And his brother’s documentary Kelce will likely get a boost, as well. As for Swift, she’s coming off of a recent bout of poor press due to her former beau, Matty Healy of the 1975, coming under fire for some pretty ugly resurfaced comments. Now she’s linked to a much less problematic man who has a more high-profile job and seems to get that she’s the one with the power in the relationship—that’s a win. It also shouldn’t surprise anyone that Swifties are already joking about Kelce’s birth year being promo for Swift’s upcoming rerecorded version of her album 1989.
Will the rumored new romance last? Who’s to say? But it’s been incredibly entertaining to watch Swifties process this news alongside football fans, and it’s only been a day. I, for one, am happy if Swift and Kelce are happy, and I will definitely be watching this space.