Travis Kelce, explained

Travis Kielce, wearing a Kansas City Chiefs uniform number 87, walks off the field raising one white-gloved hand pointing to the sky.
Travis Kelce.
Dustin Satloff/Getty Photos

When you’re a soccer fan, you’ve most likely heard extra about Taylor Swift within the final two weeks than you may have in your life up to now. When you’re a Swiftie, you’ve most likely heard extra about tight ends, offensive linemen, and Kansas Metropolis than you ever dreamed you’ll.

Arguably the 2 greatest monocultures left standing — Taylor Swift and the NFL — have collided with a monumental affect, all as a result of Taylor has apparently begun a relationship with Kansas Metropolis Chiefs tight finish Travis Kelce.

By now, even in case you’re not in both fandom, you’ve seemingly no less than heard about how Kelce (pronounced “Kell-see”) tried to woo Swift on the Eras tour by giving her a friendship bracelet along with his cellphone quantity written on it. Subsequent factor we knew, the 2 had been “quietly hanging out.”

Then Taylor confirmed as much as a late-September Chiefs recreation to cheer on Travis (who later confirmed he’d invited her), and it was an entire new ball recreation — and never simply because the gamers had been overtly transfixed by the megastar within the stands. In a single day, the NFL and Kelce himself grew to become the new matter of dialog amongst individuals who’d by no means thought of soccer earlier than, whereas sportscasters discovered themselves injecting Swift references into their sports activities roundups. The media frenzy round Kelce and Swift ballooned, together with the memes and the countless references to Swifties invading sports activities fandom. Numerous articles explaining soccer for Swift followers started circulating the takesphere.

When the Chiefs’ subsequent recreation in opposition to the New York Jets rolled round, the hype over Taylor/Travis (Traylor? Tayvis? The ship nomenclature is essential!) was so intense that the NFL created a viral promo for the sport that used Swift’s “Welcome to New York” because the backdrop and slyly declared the matchup to be “Taylor made for Sunday evening.” And so they had been proper: Swift confirmed as much as the sport with a entire crew of celeb associates together with Ryan Reynolds, Blake Energetic, and Hugh Jackman (has Hugh Jackman ever even been to a soccer recreation earlier than?!), all of whom frolicked with Kelce’s mother within the VIP field, cheering on the Chiefs whereas each eye was skilled on Taylor.

The October 1 Chiefs/Jets recreation, as an NBC press launch subsequently crowed, was not solely must-see TV, however the most-watched recreation of the yr for the reason that Tremendous Bowl. As Vox’s Emily Stewart put it, “The thrill is inescapable, whether or not you’re a Taylor Swift fan, an NFL fan, each, or neither. Kelce’s jersey gross sales have spiked, as has the variety of his Instagram followers … The social media chatter is countless. The media protection is breathless. Seemingly everybody has weighed in.”

Taylor Swift, Blake Energetic, and Ryan Reynolds cheer on the Kansas Metropolis Chiefs in opposition to the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on October 1, 2023, in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
Dustin Satloff/Getty Photos

In fact, all of this hyperventilating would nonetheless have occurred if Taylor Swift had dated every other soccer participant. But it surely was Travis Kelce who, from all accounts, boldly pursued Swift. That’s a dramatic change from the everyday Swiftian narrative, which if we’re to imagine her tune lyrics often places her within the place of “noticed you throughout a crowded room and knew I needed to have you ever.” On this case, the “crowded room” was Swift’s Eras tour, and Kelce was the one making the strikes.

And whereas many individuals and far of the media appear satisfied that the complete relationship (in the event that they’re even courting, which hasn’t really been confirmed) is only a PR transfer, that solely raises extra questions: If it’s a faux PR stunt, which ones is benefiting, and the way? What wouldn’t it say about Kelce — and soccer in 2023 — that courting arguably the world’s reigning pop star matches into his profession ambitions?

Who’s Travis Kelce?

Born, like Swift, in 1989, Travis Kelce is initially from small-town Ohio, the place he grew up enjoying a wide range of sports activities, together with quarterbacking for his highschool alongside his older brother Jason, a working again who went on to play for the Philadelphia Eagles. The youthful Kelce was additionally a highschool basketball star in addition to a baseball pitcher with a 90-mile-per-hour pitch, per his coach.

In school on the College of Cincinnati, Travis transitioned to the position of tight finish from quarterback, an more and more in style soccer technique that mainly permits offensive linemen to make use of their quarterback expertise to their benefit. Kelce was so good he gained the 2012 Faculty Soccer Efficiency Awards Tight Finish of the Yr. You would possibly assume that accolade gave him a bonus within the NFL draft, however actually Kelce was a third-round decide for the Chiefs; it wasn’t till his third season that he actually started to shine, serving to propel the Chiefs to the playoffs and incomes a spot within the 2015 Professional Bowl.

When Patrick Mahomes grew to become the staff’s beginning quarterback in 2018, he and Kelce’s on-field synergy appeared to raise the staff to an entire new degree — together with serving what the NFL has since known as “the best regular-season recreation of all time” in opposition to the Rams. The Chiefs went on to win the 2019 Tremendous Bowl in opposition to the San Francisco 49ers — their first Tremendous Bowl win in 50 years. Every part since for Kelce has been gravy.

What even is a good finish, and what makes Travis Kelce such a superb one?

Soccer consists of two sides, or “strains”: the protection and the offense. The offense tries to advance the ball down the sector, and the protection tries to cease them. The tight finish is a hybrid position that permits gamers to function each offensive linemen (the gamers who hinder the protection and clear the best way for the run) in addition to huge receivers (those who catch and run the ball). The tight ends are the receivers who line up on the ends of the offensive line of gamers.

Right here’s the factor: Kelce is a superb tight finish. Since 2015, he’s been charting legendary milestones, racking up no less than 1,000 receiving yards (yards run on the sector after catching the ball) in a season. In 2015, he grew to become the primary and solely participant in NFL historical past to run 1,000 receiving yards 4 seasons in a row. Kelce has since notched that quantity each season. That’s proper: As of fall 2023, Kelce is the one tight finish in NFL historical past to run 1,000 receiving yards a season for seven consecutive seasons.

Even having the ability to run 1,000 receiving yards in any respect places him in a category with only a handful of different legendary tight ends, like former Patriots all-star Rob Gronkowski. As Chiefs blogger Evan Gabrielson lately put it, “He’s utterly obliterated any and all expectations for sustained success.”

Okay. What’s he like off the sector?

You would possibly assume all of this high-level footballing would go away Kelce little time for extracurriculars, however that’s the place issues get actually fascinating. Kelce appears to have been jonesing for extra time within the highlight for some time now. Due to E!’s 2016 sequence Catching Kelce, a short-lived Bachelor-style courting present wherein single girls vied for Kelce’s affections, the sports activities world has lengthy thought of Kelce to be “eligible” in additional than simply the draftable sense. Because the titular bachelor, Kelce, per Salon’s Olivia Luppino, reportedly sleeps with no less than one of many girls, “slips out and in of a Blaccent,” and confirmed no qualms about choosing the season’s villain, Maya Benberry, because the winner. (Kelce referred to her as “Kentucky” after her house state.)

He was additionally self-aware that the present wasn’t really about discovering love. It was “a courting present the place nobody even cared about courting.” That may comprise some hints for anybody questioning if the Swift/Kelce relationship is actual. After the present aired in fall 2016, Kelce instructed ESPN’s Mike & Mike that he loved it and is “cool with all the ladies” who appeared, together with staying associates with Benberry — however that he had no intention of doing a second season.

“Offensive linemen aren’t recognized for being out in entrance of the digicam like that, exhibiting their persona,” Mike Golic commented to him. He was talking of Travis’s brother Jason, who made cameo appearances, however the comment applies equally to Travis, who appears absolutely at house on digicam and cozy with the eye. Each Kelces take pleasure in being public figures. In 2022, recent off their Tremendous Bowl wins, the brothers launched a podcast, New Heights, which noticed them bickering about whose Tremendous Bowl victory was cooler. Even in case you’re not into sports activities, you could admit that’s comedy gold.

New Heights has since turn into one of many greatest sports activities podcasts on the earth, routinely rating because the No. 1 sports activities podcast within the nation and gaining followers like LeBron James. Because the Swift/Kelce rumors started, it has gained much more consideration, garnering over 1,000,000 extra YouTube views as Swifties flock to take a look at what Kelce has to say in regards to the courting rumors.

For essentially the most half, Kelce has been chill. He instructed his brother on the most recent podcast episode that he thinks the media is “overdoing it,” but additionally “simply making an attempt to have enjoyable” with all of the rumors. In the meantime, he and Taylor are reportedly speaking on the cellphone every day; a supply instructed US Weekly that Taylor reportedly “likes that he’s a standard, good man. He’s down-to-earth and isn’t affected by fame. She additionally thinks he’s sizzling.”

So why would a relationship so cute be faux?

There are a few causes to be no less than a bit suspicious in regards to the too-good-to-be-true entanglement, however there’s additionally loads of galaxy-brain considering on the market. Some followers say the Chiefs’ advertising and marketing division engineered the complete relationship as a stunt to distract Chief followers from Mahomes’s sortacontroversial spouse Brittany Mahomes, who tends to begin ruckuses on social media. Since Taylor and Brittany have been spending a number of time collectively lately, nonetheless, that plot, if it existed, appears to have backfired. Some followers assume the entire thing is a ploy by Kelce to distract from his breakup with Kayla Nicole, who he dated for 5 years till shortly earlier than the Swift rumors started. No one actually is aware of what occurred there, however Nicole appears salty about it.

One other concept is that the Kelce brothers engineered the stunt as publicity for his or her lately launched documentary, Kelce, which focuses on Jason’s closing yr within the sport and culminates with him and Travis battling it out throughout 2023’s Tremendous Bowl LVII. (Chiefs gained.) However since that is most likely the primary time you’ve even heard that the Kelce brothers have a documentary about themselves, that rumor most likely isn’t true both; actually Swift hasn’t been selling it for them, other than simply making individuals conscious that the Kelces exist.

Nonetheless different theories veer in the wrong way: As an alternative of being faux, some followers argue that the 2 have secretly been gravitating towards one another since no less than 2013, which was when Swift was noticed holding up a Kelce jersey at a fan meet. And sharp-eyed followers have famous that when Travis performed “Kiss, Marry, Kill” in 2016, the particular person he needed to kiss? Taylor Swift. We see you, fanboy. Stories that he’s “utterly smitten” with Taylor aren’t going unnoticed.

What’s notable is that just about all of those rumors focus on Kelce, not Taylor; what she good points if something out of that is troublesome to say, particularly since she’s most likely essentially the most talked-about pop artist on Earth in the mean time. Taylor has all the time no less than tried to be canny about overexposure, even when she’s often missed the mark. However courting Kelce appears to have introduced publicity like by no means earlier than.

Then why would Taylor Swift take the danger?

It’s true that the NFL is having a discipline day with this, and that Swifties invading their native soccer stadiums outdoors of live performance time is must-see fall TV. Kelce’s proper; the media most likely is “overdoing it” only a bit. And whereas which may not backfire on Kelce, so long as he retains working 1,000-yard seasons, it may very simply backfire on Swift, because it has different feminine pop stars who’ve dated athletes solely to then be blamed for these athletes’ profession setbacks. And Swift has already spent most of her profession being focused by the media as a toxic media determine. Everybody lastly discovered that she’s a artistic genius, certain — however has that ever stopped a backlash from recurring?

So, sure, Taylor appears to be risking so much up to now Kelce proper now. But it surely’s additionally true that typically a lady and a man can have their eye on one another for years till the time is true to go on a date or two and see what clicks.

And if that experiment conveniently leads Kelce to extra fame and the NFL to raised scores, effectively, who’s going to face in the best way of real love?

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