When any television viewer would tune in for a Kansas City Chiefs game, several times a game the TV cameras would pan to pop star Taylor Swift in some secure luxury suite.
Movie stars and music legends being shown on the TV screen are nothing new. Who hasn’t viewed Jack Nicholson for any home Los Angeles Lakers game? Or anytime an alumnus such as Peyton Manning from a college program would be seen roaming the sidelines during a big game? Or some famous somebody in sports, movies, music, or politics sitting in the crowd that the network has identified?
But this season, pop star Taylor Swift was considered an enigma, or a blessing?
Swift’s romance with Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce has been well-documented. You can’t miss it. Every great Kelce play gets an instant camera shot to her skybox. A touchdown might get two pans for her reaction.
The fact that Swift has been associated with the game has provided a tremendous uptick in overall league TV ratings, especially with Chiefs’ games. And now that Kansas City is in the Super Bowl once again, is it possible the NFL itself had something to do with getting them into the big game?
(If Cleveland Browns fans thought conspiracies like this were true, they’d do everything in their power to get the next big pop star connected to one of the single guys on the team. Browns fans are that... awesome!?)
It has always been true that the league has soured on the idea of the smaller markets making a Super Bowl appearance. They love the bigger markets with the biggest stars. After all, the larger the Super Bowl ratings, the higher the bids become from the networks that broadcast the big game. And then the networks take those numbers to their advertisers who they then shake down for huge bucks for a single 30-second spot.
And if Swift can propel those numbers higher than anyone ever assumed was possible, well then, we must get her and her throng of fans to the big game. Everyone wins.
So, the big question remains: Did the NFL script Super Bowl 58 for the Chiefs to become the AFC representative?
At the annual pre-Super Bowl press conference, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was asked exactly that. His response:
“I don’t think I’m that good a scripter, or anybody on our staff. Listen, there’s no way I could have scripted that one. Let’s just put it that way.”
Kelce and Swift have become a sideshow. How many commercials has the 34-year-old Kelce been on these days? So, the fact that he is now face-recognized is not suddenly by accident. He has two Super Bowl rings, was named First Team All-Pro four times, was named to nine consecutive Pro Bowls, and was selected to the NFL 2010s All-Decade Team.
Singer/songwriter Swift, also 34, has also graced commercials with recently her American Express bit where she is seen as different characters. She has won 14 Grammy Awards, one Emmy, 40 American Music Awards, 39 Billboard Music Awards, 23 MTV Video Music Awards, 12 Country Music Association Awards, two Brit Awards, and eight Academy of Country Music Awards, and owns 118 Guinness World Records. She has amassed over 50 million album sales and 150 million single-song sales.
Her net worth is $1.1 billion.
The NFL loves any conversation that begins with “billions.” Publications describe her immense popularity and longevity as a kind of fame unwitnessed since the 20th century. This tops The Beatles, The Supremes, Elvis, Michael Jackson, Led Zeppelin, The Who, The Temptations, U2, and The Rolling Stones.
What Swift’s presence at NFL games has done was introduce fans of the pop icon to the game itself which was previously untapped. In return, sports fans who may not have ever heard any Swift songs have been presented with the artist’s work.
It is all wins for the NFL for the Chiefs to be in the big game. A penalty here, an interception there, and a missed call on a crucial third down is all it would take. Goodell offered:
“I think the idea that this was a script, that this was pre-planned, that’s nonsense. 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.”
Look at how the NFL has pushed its game to the masses that they have earmarked as untapped globally. Games in Japan, Germany, Mexico, and England are now all staples of any preseason or regular season schedule. The Cleveland Browns might meet the Philadelphia Eagles in a game in Brazil in 2024, yet another new territory.
Reporter:: Is there going to be another ring if you besides the Super Bowl ring if you win in Sunday?— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) February 6, 2024
Travis Kelce: I’m focused on getting this ring avid that’s all my mind’s focused on. pic.twitter.com/wSbSpK4Olr
Finding new fans in any fashion is their quest. And for this to be right in the own back yard, and the total is in the millions of new fans, called “Swifties”, is a huge gain for the league.
How was the league able to tap into the genre of young women?
Goodell and his NFL owners have struck gold without spending a dime to get these new fans:
“Both Travis and Taylor are wonderful young people. They both seem very happy. (Swift) knows great entertainment, and I think that’s why she loves NFL football. I think it’s great to have her a part of it. Obviously, it creates a buzz. It creates another group of young fans, particularly young women.”
Swift’s presence to the masses who follow her and buy her music has people talking about the game of American Football and in particular, the NFL. To watch football is eventually to learn its rules. And it welcomes a new source of revenue to the league with clothing and merchandise sales. And next year when Swift and Kelce are wed, this becomes old news.
But for now, it seems everything Taylor Swift touches has been successful. What she has done just by being herself and available for television exposure has welcomed into the game millions of fans that the NFL could not tap and bring into their viewing fold.
What percent is the NFL ecstatic that the Chiefs are the AFC representative? Billions.