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Taylor Swift is bigger than the NFL

Travis Kelce, a Pro Bowl tight end with the Kansas City Chiefs, said some time ago that he shot his shot (as the kids say, today) with Taylor Swift when the world-famous pop singer performed a concert at Arrowhead Stadium in July as part of her long-running Eras Tour.

Evidently, Kelce passed a friendship bracelet with his phone number on to Swift after the show.

Rumors soon began to circulate that Kelce and Swift were dating. Kelce and his brother, Jason, who also plays in the NFL as a center for the Philadelphia Eagles, occasionally talked about the rumors on their podcast, New Heights.

This went on for months.

Then on Sunday, Swift was spotted in Kelce’s private box, sitting next to his mom, as the Chiefs took on the Bears at Arrowhead Stadium. Swift was wearing Chiefs’ colors and appeared to scream “Let’s bleeping go!” when Kelce scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter of what turned out to be a 41-10 win for the defending Super Bowl champions.

Swift and Kelce were later seen leaving Arrowhead Stadium shortly after the game, and all hell quickly broke loose–if it hadn’t the moment the singer was spotted up in that private box.

It wasn’t long after that that Swift and her fans, known as the Swifties, reminded everyone that the singing icon is much, much bigger than the National Football League.

Just how big is Swift?

After Sunday, jersey sales for Kelce increased 400 percent. He immediately gained over 400,000 new Instagram followers. We’re talking about a tight end with 825 career receptions for over 10,000 yards. He’s made eight Pro Bowls and has been named a First-Team All-Pro four times. He is undoubtedly headed for the Hall of Fame.

To repeat: 400 percent and 400,000.

The whole world is now talking about the budding romance involving Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce.

And it has very little to do with Travis Kelce and everything to do with Taylor Swift.

What I like about the SWIFT/Kelce romance is it could perhaps be a serving of humble pie for the NFL, an entity that has had a stranglehold on the sports world for many, many years. Or should I say, the NFL has had a stranglehold on the sports scene in America–not the world.

And certainly not the mainstream pop culture world.

The often arrogant football league perhaps got a small reminder of that in May when the Tennessee Titans released a hilarious schedule reveal video that included many Nashville natives and tourists trying to guess the names of the team’s 2023 regular-season opponents and failing miserably.  

You see, while the NFL often draws between 10 and 20 million viewers to its games every Thursday, Sunday and Monday, that’s still a small fraction of the population of the United States (326.7 million).

According to Statista.com, the NFL generated over $18.6 billion in 2022. Not bad, not bad at all.

Swift’s Eras Tour, which began in March and will eventually go international after its long stint in the U.S., is expected to reach $1 billion in revenue by next year. When all is said and done, the revenue generated by the tour will likely be in the billions.

We’re talking about an established sports league vs. one singer.

It’s actually always been that way with sports and pop icons.

Swift may or may not have navigated Arrowhead Stadium in a popcorn machine in an effort to not be mobbed (such behavior is common for people at her level of fame), but I know Kelce will never have to do that to get around–or at least he didn’t before he started to appear on the Swifties’ radar.

Do you think Elvis Presley could walk around in public during his heyday in the 1960s? No, but Ray Nitschke, an All-Pro and future Hall of Fame linebacker for the Green Bay Packers, could. Nitschke appeared on the game show, What’s My Line, on December 30, 1962. That was the same day that he was named MVP of the NFL title game between Green Bay and the Giants at Yankee Stadium in New York (the Packers prevailed, 16-7). Dressed in a suit and wearing glasses, the panelists on the show had no idea who this NFL star was.

Nitschke likely walked out of that studio and caught the nearest cab without anyone even noticing.

If Travis Kelce walked around the streets of America right now, maybe three out of every 10 people–including diehard football fans–would know who he was. However, everyone–including people who don’t even like her music–would recognize Swift if she did the same thing.

The percentages for Kelce would likely drop to zero if he walked the streets of another country, but Swift would still be at 100 percent.

There’s NFL All-Pro famous, and then there’s international pop icon famous.

It’s nice to see that Taylor Swift has elevated the profile of the National Football League by dating what’s his face from the Kansas City Chiefs.

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