Travis Kelce, the Kansas City Chiefs’ tight end, said Friday that he is prepared for the circus that is the Super Bowl.
He’s gone through it three times and has two rings to show for it.
However, it has never been this way before.
Kelce’s prominence has never been higher, as the Chiefs prepare to play the San Francisco 49ers in Las Vegas on February 11. He is frequently featured in television commercials, offering everything from soup to insurance. He has participated in made-for-TV golf tournaments, charity softball games, and served as a guest host on “Saturday Night Live” this year.
You might have heard that he’s also dating Taylor Swift. And that might make Monday night especially hectic, when he headlines what the NFL refers to as “Super Bowl Opening Night.” The event has evolved into its own broadcast extravaganza, and the conversation that takes place is usually more lighthearted entertainment than heavy-duty X’s and Os.
In other words, Kelce can expect to be frequently asked about his pop celebrity girlfriend.
“That’s going to be kind of where it starts for everybody,” Kelce told a few reporters inside Arrowhead Stadium, “and I just love it right now. This is an exciting time. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing several times.”
Kelce did not specify whether he expected Swift to be inside Allegiant Stadium by kickoff, but it appears that is the plan. She has an Eras Tour performance in Tokyo on Saturday night, but due to the time shift, she should be able to make it with plenty of time.
Swift was certainly in the spotlight last weekend in Baltimore, where she saw Kelce score a touchdown and lead the Chiefs to a 17-10 victory over the Ravens in the AFC championship game. Kelce was joined by his well-known brother Jason, his dad, and possibly equally well-known mom Donna, as well as Swift, who kissed him.
“It’s another memory in the journey that we get to cherish, man,” he remarked. “I was fortunate to have all the support I need off the field, and you know, it’s given me a reason to play that much harder.”
Kelce has not had the same dominant statistical season as he had in previous years. Part of that was due to a knee injury that held him out of a Week 1 defeat to the Lions, and part of it was because he missed the Chiefs’ regular-season finale against the Chargers, when they had secured the AFC West and were unable to improve on their No. 3 playoff spot.
However, Kelce, 34, refused to say whether this year, his 11th in the league, had been more difficult than previous years.
“I mean, every single year is different,” he told me, “and I’m not going to lie, there have been years where I’ve kind of battled through some things that frankly were a little more serious, and a little more frustrating than what I had to go through this year.”
This season, there was one difference: we lost. At one point in the season, the Chiefs had lost five of their eight games.
“The fact that we weren’t winning kind of piled up on how I was feeling physically,” he remarked. “You can catch yourself in a darker room, if that makes sense. And being able to find ways to win, rally with the group, win the division, make the playoffs, and get to where we are now, it just makes it that much more enjoyable.”
Nobody appears to have more fun when the Chiefs win. Kelce, as usual, grabbed the microphone following their victory over the Ravens and shouted out his now-too-familiar Beastie Boys victory cry: “You gotta fight for your right to party!”
When asked how he got so comfortable with a microphone in his hand, he said, “My mom’s home videos, man.”
“Having that camera on me at all times, seeing what silly stuff I’m going to do next,” he said. “To be honest, I’ve always felt at peace in the rooms I’ve been in, and I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to stare into a camera with ease, I suppose. I do not know. “It’s just fun out there.”
Kelce believes sports played a role in it.
“Just having confidence in general,” he continued, “and sports helped me build my confidence. You’re probably not going to believe it, but I was a shy kid until I went on the sports field, court, or ice rink. Then I let my personality show. I was having fun. I was having success. And that’s just given me more confidence in life.”