The Chiefs, Travis Kelce, And A Superstar’s Amazing Impact on the NFL
Sitting in the booth at Buona Beef with my Mom in the Chicago suburbs on Sunday, September 24, I couldn't help but give my Mom the business about the Chiefs just demolishing the Chicago Bears while the game played out on a big TV in the restaurant. Yet, I was also intrigued by the cuts to Taylor Swift at the game. It turns out that yes, Travis Kelce, got the date with the cute blonde superstar that has a knack for dominating the music industry. What we didn't know was, how much the Taylor Swift circus would dominate Chiefs football and the 2023 - 2024 NFL season.
Most of us are aware of the debate on whether Taylor Swift is a good distraction for Cheifs and NFL fans, or something that would just for the love of everything would go away. Personally, as both a Taylor Swift fan and a Chiefs fan, I've enjoyed most of it. Occasionally, it's a little much. But mostly I liked it. It also made that moment when they cut to Taylor at Arrowhead a little bittersweet for me.
See, I happened to be in Chicago that weekend for my late wife Kathy's memorial service. It was bittersweet because the Chiefs' magical play and the personalities on the team over the last few years made my wife a Chiefs fan. Yes, Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, Andy Reed, and the Chiefs Kingdom made my wife a fan. It made Chiefs games on TV a mandatory couple's activity.
She also loved Taylor Swift, Swift's music spoke to her in a different way than most music did. So, yes, it was bittersweet because it was a moment, two of my wife's favorite things had collided. Yet, I realized there'd be no fun conversations about Travis and Taylor, or discussions about whether it was publicity or for real. None of that.
But I digress. This isn't a blog about the impact the Chiefs and Taylor Swift had on my late wife or my marriage, it's about the overall impact Swift has had on the Chiefs and the NFL. So what can we quantify, and measure about that?
Rotowire did some number crunching and came up with the following:
- They cite an ESPN report that the day after Swift showed up at Arrowhead in September, Travis Kelce jersey sales increased by 400%.
- The Chiefs vs. Bears broadcast on September 24 had 24.3 million viewers, the most of any NFL game that weekend. 8% more young women 12-17 watched that game than did the year before, even as overall viewership was down 8% from the previous year.
- The Chiefs vs. Ravens playoff game became the most-watched AFC Championship game ever with 55.5 million viewers.
As far as whether Swift at Chiefs games has helped Kelce or been a distraction in a negative way Rotowire writes, "Swift's presence in the stands has helped him get his head in the game when it comes to producing on the field. Including the playoffs, Kelce has now played 18 games this season, and Swift has been in attendance for 12. In six Swiftless games, Kelce has averaged 6.0 catches, 50.0 receiving yards and 0.5 touchdowns. In the 12 games Taylor attended, Travis has averaged 6.7 receptions for 72.4 yards and 0.4 touchdowns. Whether it's just statistical noise or the result of a little extra motivation, Kelce has been noticeably more productive with Swift in the house, especially in terms of yardage."
For me, all of this makes the Taylor Swift distraction a positive for the Chiefs, Travis Kelce, and the NFL. No one's thinking about it right now, since the NFL is America's pastime, at least as far as sports go. Yet, getting young women into the sport of football isn't a bad thing. Neither is getting more eyeballs on the game from folks of any age and gender.
Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs are in a run like those magical Chicago Bulls teams of the 90s. If it's not a dynasty, it's close. The team is fun to watch, has likable personalities, and might truly be on the way to wrestle the crown of America's Team away from the Dallas Cowboys. If the Chiefs put on a show Sunday night and come away with the victory, well the only thing that could make it more of a fairy tale would be Travis and Taylor tying the knot at some Vegas drive-through wedding chapel in a 57 Chevy.
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Gallery Credit: Katrina Sirotta