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The tight end the right turned against: why Travis Kelce is the man for Taylor Swift



Easy to root for … Swift with Travis Kelce after the Kansas City Chiefs games against Baltimore Ravens in January. Photograph: Patrick Smith/Getty Images

And this combination actually makes perfect sense – so much so that the Guardian has broken down some key reasons why.

It’s not just that Kelce’s play at the tight end position for the Kansas City Chiefs has earned him four coveted First-Team Associated Press All-Pro selections and positioned him to pursue a third NFL championship in the Super Sunday’s Bowl.

Those laurels made Kelce a superstar in his own right in America’s most powerful sports league. And they elevated him to a level of fame and fortune independent of his association with Swift, who is 34, just like him.

But what has also apparently been key for Kelce in his courtship with Swift are his political beliefs. They are more progressive than those of almost every other prominent white American professional athlete — and therefore comfortably align with those of the singer and most of the so-called Swifties who support her.

One of his most notable political statements came exactly six years before Swift attended her first Chiefs game in support of him. On that afternoon of September 24, 2017, Kelce followed Colin Kaepernick’s lead and took a knee during the pre-game national anthem ceremony in support of teammates protesting racist police brutality that disproportionately affects Black people in the US .

Within the fraternity of NFL players, that show of support for the Black Lives Matter movement makes sense. More than half of the league’s athletes are black, including Patrick Mahomes, whose Kelce has caught a total of more than 700 passes and 70 touchdowns en route to Sunday’s title game with the San Francisco 49ers.


However, that didn’t stop Donald Trump – the president at the time – from leading Republicans’ demands for NFL teams to dismiss players who protest by kneeling.

Kelce has since taken a handful of opportunities to demonstrate his willingness to take a stand, even if it means putting himself in the crosshairs of the US political right. Just weeks after American conservatives initiated a boycott against Bud Light for publishing an ad featuring transgender social media influencer Dylan Mulvaney, Kelce agreed to appear in a commercial for the beer maker.

Meanwhile, the Cleveland, Ohio native has also advocated for Americans to be vaccinated against the flu and Covid-19 viruses, including in a commercial campaign for the pharmaceutical company Pfizer that began around the same time as his relationship with Swift.

Kelce’s Bud Light spot fell far short of expressing support for Mulvaney and seemed more focused on helping the beer company win back some of the sales it lost during the transphobic boycott. And Kelce’s work for Pfizer has reportedly earned him around $20 million, a sum most would likely accept in exchange for angering vaccine skeptics.

Yet it is clear that these decisions made the American right wing feel called out by him. In December, Ultimate Fighting Championship featherweight contender Colby Covington – an unapologetic Trump supporter – publicly called Kelce “one of the biggest pieces of shit of all time.”


For his part, New York Jets quarterback, former Super Bowl champion and anti-vax skeptic Aaron Rodgers disparagingly referred to Kelce as “Mr Pfizer” before challenging him to debate vaccines on the Pat McAfee Show.

Kelce ignored the invitation and expressed sympathy for what Rodgers must have gone through when he missed most of the 2023 NFL season with a torn Achilles tendon. (Rodgers subsequently lost his regular guest gig on The Pat McAfee Show, i.e reportedly earned him $1 million a yearfor accusing comedian Jimmy Kimmel of being “nervous” about his connection to the late sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein.)

About Swift, Kelce has said everything she and her fans would want to hear at this stage.

“You can’t put more pressure on yourself than I put on myself – that’s just the heart of a competitor,” he said at the annual Super Bowl media day when asked if he’s negatively affected by all the extra attention Swift brings .

“She’s incredible — she’s rewriting the history books herself,” Kelce noted when asked how Swift had won a record-breaking fourth Grammy award for album of the year days earlier.


Kelce made a point of nodding to his beloved’s army of supporters – “it was fun rallying the Swifties in the Chiefs kingdom”. He claimed he didn’t know exactly where Swift was as the Super Bowl approached, though he said he thought she was in Tokyo — where pretty much the entire world knows she has a concert on Saturday before she plans to fly to Las Vegas to Kelce can be seen performing against the show. 49ers personally.

When asked what would happen first: the 49ers winning a Super Bowl ring or Swift getting an engagement ring, Kelce said he’s the only person he thinks will get a new ring on Sunday.

“I told her I have to keep my end of the bargain,” Kelce joked, “and also come home with some hardware.”


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