When the Super Bowl is over and the 2023 NFL season is consigned to the history books, it is hard to conclude that Taylor Swift‘s name won’t feature prominently in the story of the season.
On September 8, when the Kansas City Chiefs started their defense of their Super Bowl title with a loss to Detroit Lions, the very idea of Swift and her ‘squad’ rocking up week after week to Kansas City games would have been crazy.
Travis Kelce missed that Lions game injured but deep behind the scenes, the early days of a romance that would grip America and enrapture the rest of the world was already underway.
He and Swift had been hanging out quietly, meeting in New York and going unnoticed after he put a mischievous appeal out to her via his New Heights podcast that he hosts with brother Jason.
After watching Taylor perform at Arrowhead on July 8, the Chiefs star tried to meet her backstage and give her his number on a friendship bracelet, only to be denied. On July 26, he told Jason on the podcast: ‘She doesn’t talk before or after her shows because she has to save her voice for the 44 songs that she sings. So I was a little butthurt – she doesn’t meet anybody or at least she didn’t want to meet me.’
Taylor Swift performs at Arrowhead on July 8 – the show Travis Kelce was at in Kansas City
Travis opened up on failing to give Swift his number on a July 26 New Heights episode (left) but a month later, was very coy when asked if the singer heard his story and reached out (right)
By the end of September, Swift was in the stands with Kelce’s mom
But it turns out she did.
Kelce was reached out to via intermediaries and on August 2 in an NFL Network interview, got very coy when reporters asked if there had been any contact between them.
At the end of August, they had met in New York and on September 24, when the Chiefs hosted Chicago Bears at Arrowhead, Swift took a seat in the Kelce suite next to his mom, Donna, to confirm what the rumors had been saying.
‘I threw the ball in her court. I told her, I’ve seen you rock a stage in Arrowhead and you might have to come see me rock the stage at Arrowhead,’ Kelce said that week, leading up to the game. ‘We’ll see what happens in the near future.’
Kelce scored a touchdown against the Bears in an emphatic 41-10 win and Taylor clearly had a taste for football (she’d later tell TIME magazine ‘football is awesome, it turns out – I’ve been missing out my whole life’).
A week later on October 1 and Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Hugh Jackman and Sophie Turner were among the stars that joined her at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey as the Chiefs beat New York Jets 23-20.
She skipped the game the following week in Minnesota, returning to Arrowhead Stadium on October 12 for a Thursday night game against the Denver Broncos, where the Chiefs won 19-8.
Her winning streak continued on October 22, the next Chiefs game, when Kelce produced one of his best displays of the season with a 12-catch, 179-yard, one-touchdown game in a 31-10 triumph against Los Angeles Chargers.
Swift also showed how her friendship with Brittany Mahomes, wife of Chiefs quarterback Patrick, was going from strength to strength. The pair celebrated a touchdown with their own victory handshake in the VIP suite – this time with Taylor wearing a Chiefs sweater.
It was the last game Swift would make for six weeks with her own touring commitments restarting in South America and when she returned, the Chiefs were wobbling.
She saw Kelce and his team lose for the first time on December 3 against the Packers in a cold Green Bay, and again the following week back at Arrowhead to the Buffalo Bills – where Kelce’s incredible lateral pass to Kadarius Toney for a late TD was ruled out because the WR lined up offside.
Her seventh game saw her take the short plane ride from Manhattan to New England as the Chiefs returned to winning ways against the iconic Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots on December 17.
But the next game, on Christmas Day, did not go to plan at all.
The Chiefs lost 20-14 to Las Vegas Raiders and Kelce slammed his helmet to the floor in fury in the second quarter before almost coming to blows with his coach Andy Reid, who appeared to shove him in response to his player looking visibly angry and on the brink of losing his temper.
It was later reported by Life & Style magazine that the couple had their first argument after that game, with Kelce in a bad mood after his team’s loss.
But if they did, they soon patched things up and Swift was back in the suite at Arrowhead on New Year’s Eve for a 25-17 win over Cincinnati Bengals. And Swift stayed in Kansas City to ring in the new year with her boyfriend and round the holiday season out in Kansas City.
Both Kelce and Swift missed the final game of the regular season in Los Angeles, back against the Chargers, with the tight end resting up ahead of the playoffs.
Swift cheered Kelce on Christmas Day but it did not go to plan for the Chiefs vs. the Raiders
Swift appeared at the Chiefs-Dolphins playoff game in a custom-made ‘Kelce 87’ jacket
She braved obscenely cold Kansas City temperatures for the first playoff game against Miami Dolphins, where wind-chill made temperatures plunge to -27.
The Chiefs emerged victorious that day and booked a rematch with the Bills. Taylor flew to Buffalo for a game where she met Jason for the first time – and the older Kelce brother took center stage by whipping his shirt off and climbing out of the VIP suite to neck a beer with fans in the stands after Travis scored the first of two touchdowns on the night.
‘Tay said she absolutely loved you,’ Travis, in hysterics, told Jason on New Heights after the game – assuring his older brother that his antics didn’t shock the singer too much.
They met again when the Chiefs beat the Ravens in Baltimore with Jason enjoying a more subdued day out. Kelce scored an early touchdown as the Chiefs surprised many by beating Baltimore and sealing a return to the Super Bowl for a second straight season.
Taylor celebrated with Travis on the field, with the couple kissing in front of the cameras and appearing to say ‘I love you’ in emotional scenes after he got his hands on the AFC Championship trophy.
For the Super Bowl itself, Swift faces a race back from Tokyo, Japan, where she is touring, for the the showpiece game in Vegas. She is expected to make it but Kelce has been coy over her attendance all week during media conferences.
If she makes it, she could well be a good luck omen for Kansas City. Her lucky number is 13, and this would be her 13th Chiefs game.
If any Kansas City fans have grown tired of the hype that surrounded Swift at their games this season, all will be forgotten if they win the Super Bowl. And in her rookie season as the new Queen of Chiefs Kingdom, it would be a fairytale ending for all involved.