After being on the receiving end of intense backlash from hardcore football fans over its coverage of Taylor Swift, the NFL is defending its decision to spotlight the pop star and Travis Kelce amid rumours the two are in a romantic relationship.
In response to accusations that it is leaning too heavily into Swift’s blossoming romance with the Kansas City Chiefs tight end, the league issued a statement shared to The Hollywood Reporter, saying that her appearance at two NFL games has brought an “incredible amount of positivity around the sport.”
“We frequently change our bios and profile imagery based on what’s happening in and around our games, as well as culturally,” they wrote. “The Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce news has been a pop cultural moment we’ve leaned into in real time, as it’s an intersection of sport and entertainment, and we’ve seen an incredible amount of positivity around the sport.”
They continued, “The vast majority of our content has remained focused on the game, our players and variety of other initiatives, including our Toy Story Funday Football alt-cast, the international games and more.”
Following her appearance at Sunday night’s Chiefs game against the New York Jets, “Enough Taylor Swift” was a trending topic on X.
Fox News contributor Tomi Lahren said that the “wall-to-wall coverage” was “destroying football.”
“The wall-to-wall coverage of Taylor Swift at this game is annoying AF,” Lahren wrote on X. “I don’t even like football and I agree it’s destroying football. Just enough.”
“That’s enough of Taylor Swift!!!!!! Get back to football,” another person groused.
The @NFL_Memes account spliced a clip of Charlie Day yelling “shut up” as NBC zeroed in on the Cruel Summer singer as she hugged friends inside MetLife Stadium.
One fan went a step further and accused the league of actively favouring the Chiefs in Sunday night’s game.
“The NFL couldn’t allow any chance of the Jets beating the Chiefs because it would cause Chiefs fans to turn sour on the presence of Taylor Swift and kill the money making synergistic relationship between her and Travis Kelce,” one viral post read. “Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk on why the refs were so bad.”
As speculation continues to swirl about the relationship between Swift and the two-time Super Bowl winner, both 33, Kelce said he thought the NFL was “overdoing it.”
Jason Kelce, who plays for the Philadelphia Eagles, told his brother during their New Heights podcast that cameras showed live shots of Swift’s suite no fewer than 17 times during the game.
“Damn, that’s crazy. That’s like once a drive,” Kelce responded.
“I think everybody is just, like, overwhelmed,” Kelce continued. “I think it’s fun when they show who all is at the game. I think it brings a little bit more to the atmosphere, brings a little bit more to what you’re watching. But at the same time, they’re overdoing it a little bit, especially my situation.”
The eight-time Pro Bowler added that celebrities attending games “don’t want to be on TV at all times.”
“You could get caught throwing a big ol’ cheeseburger in and you look like an idiot, you know what I mean?”
But Swift’s impact on the game has no doubt been huge after attending back-to-back Chiefs games the past two weeks.
Swifties have been quick to embrace the Chiefs star, with sales for Kelce’s No. 87 jersey spiking nearly 400% after the 12-time Grammy winner showed up at the Sept. 24 game between the Chiefs and Bears.
Last Sunday, was an even bigger event, with an average of nearly 27 million people tuning in. The football game was the most-watched Sunday TV show since the Super Bowl, according to NBC Sports. The broadcast also saw a 53% spike in viewership among teen girls ages 12-17, a 24% increase in female viewership among 18-24 year-olds and a 34% jump in female viewers 35-plus.
For now, Swift’s attendance at the Chiefs’ next game this weekend in Minneapolis against the Minnesota Vikings is still a question mark.
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