(January 26, 2024). The Kansas City Chiefs have a very important game this Sunday in their matchup with the Ravens in Baltimore for the AFC Championship title (Sunday, January 28. at 3pm EST on CBS).
The National Football League (and CBS for that matter) is hoping like hell they win it.
The Chiefs, that is!
And you already know the reason. Her name is Taylor Swift.
Now hear me out, especially all of those curmudgeons (my new favorite word) who, like former NFL coach and current commentator Tony Dungy, falsely believe that T-Swizzle has been the downfall of this year’s NFL.
To the contrary, she’s been the NFL’s biggest 2023-24 story, whether we like it (or her) or not.
Hall of Fame Coach Dungy, the highly respected veteran leader who coached the Indianapolis Colts to Super Bowl victory nearly two decades ago, recently went on record to say that fans are “disenchanted” with football, partially because of Taylor’s omnipresence at games featuring her boyfriend Travis Kelce, the future fellow Hall of Fame tight end of the Chiefs who has been QB Patrick Mahomes’ favorite target for the better part of the seven seasons the two have played together.
Dungy couldn’t have been further from the truth in his assessment, unless he was describing those decidedly non-Swift guys who’ve bemoaned the networks’ incessant habit of panning the cameras to her luxury booth every time she makes a gesture while cheering on her famous beau (they do overdo it, but they also understand free marketing!).
To the contrary, the NFL has attracted a whole new group of fans in Taylor’s Swifties — the extremely loyal fan base bearing her namesake — which, in turn has translated into record ratings for a franchise that just five to eight years ago — amid social justice and political turmoil — was facing its lowest viewership and popularity in decades.
Remember then? Black folks were protesting the NFL because of how it handled former QB Colin Kaepernick in his quest for social justice for people of color; while white people vowed not to watch because the NFL or, more accurately, its players even dared address the topic of race (and because a certain former president tried to make doing so a fireable offense)?
It wasn’t so long ago.
But Americans are a forgiving bunch. We typically forget the very things we protested just a year ago — or why we protested against them — much less something half a decade or more in the past. (Btw, Bud Light will be back soon, folks, mark my word!)
And now the NFL is enjoying record ratings. Just last weekend, all four divisional playoff games set records either for their time-slots, for the network that aired them, or overall.
The Chiefs-vs-Bills game on CBS last Sunday (Jan. 21) took the overall category, with its viewership being the highest for an NFL divisional-round playoff game in NFL history and the most-watched program of any type (with more than 50 million viewers tuning in) since last year’s Super Bowl, in which the Chief’s championship team also appeared.
The Chiefs’ opponents in that 2023 SB game were the Philadelphia Eagles and Kelce’s brother Jason who plays center for that team. It was dubbed the “Kelce Bowl” because it featured the two brothers as the first set ever to be on opposing teams in the Big Game.
That was a ratings bonanza and helped launch the two Kelces into becoming 2023’s biggest media sensations — both on and off the field — with a popular mom, a highly successful podcast, an acclaimed documentary, a chart-topping holiday single, a new baby (in Jason’s case) and a new romance (in Travis’).
The NFL won’t have the luxury of promoting “Kelce Bowl 2,” given the Eagles’ historic collapse at the end of the regular season and in their one-and-done outing against Tampa Bay during the wildcard round two weeks ago.
But the league and CBS, who airs both the AFC Championship game and this year’s Super Bowl, can still milk the heck out of the Travis-Taylor romance. And you can bet that, if the Chiefs make it to Super Bowl 58 in Vegas, Ms. Swift will be there!
Oh, and so will big brother Jason, who stole the show from Taylor (in a move Swifties loved btw) when he emerged shirtless and screaming in their luxury booth to take some of the media heat off the pop superstar.
It won’t be Kelce Bowl 2, but it will be folks tuning in to see what big brother next has in store for celebrating Travis’ in his quest for a third Super Bowl Ring.
Of course, there is that pesky little matter of the Chiefs traveling to The City That Reads and taking on the NFL’s best team in the Ravens and their oft-overlooked QB Lamar Jackson.
My bets are on the Ravens winning it all and ending the NFL’s hopes for a Chiefs repeat.
But don’t be surprised if the darlings of the Midwest pull off an “upset,” a word that won’t describe the disposition of the NFL and CBS should it happen!
DJRob (he/him) is a freelance music blogger from the East Coast who covers R&B, hip-hop, disco, pop, rock and (sometimes) country genres – plus lots of music news and current stuff (like this intersection of sports and music)! You can follow him on X (formerly Twitter) at @djrobblog and on Meta’s Threads.
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