Many professional athletes do not agree with the “dads, Brads and Chads” hating on Taylor Swift’s attendance at NFL games.
Swift has been a fixture at boyfriend Travis Kelce’s Kansas City Chiefs games since September 2023, with the NFL occasionally showing her on the Jumbotron and on the broadcast when Kelce has a big play. The coverage outraged some diehard football supporters, lamenting that Swift is prioritized onscreen over the actual game. Swift and Kelce, meanwhile, haven’t let the haters faze them (and reports have confirmed the league has toned down how often they show the pop star).
“I don’t know how they know what suite I’m in. There’s a camera, like, a half-mile away, and you don’t know where it is, and you have no idea when the camera is putting you in the broadcast, so I don’t know if I’m being shown 17 times or once,” Swift told TIME in a December 2023 profile. “I’m just there to support Travis. I have no awareness of if I’m being shown too much and pissing off a few dads, Brads and Chads.”
Kelce later marveled at how his “amazing” girlfriend handled the backlash. “I’ll say this, they showed Taylor at the game and you don’t see an entire home team fanbase go insane for somebody wearing the opposite team’s colors,” he said during an episode of his “New Heights” podcast that month. “Just shows you how amazing that girl is.”
He added at the time, “They went absolutely insane when they showed Taylor on the screen. … Might have been a few Brads and Chads that were booing, but for the most part, everybody was f—king screaming at Taylor.”
Swift and Kelce, a tight end for the Chiefs since 2013, aren’t the only ones in favor of her game day attendance. Keep scrolling to see what the stars have said in defense of Swift joining Chiefs Kingdom:
Mahomes, the Chiefs starting quarterback, is a close friend of Kelce’s and doesn’t see Swift as a game day distraction.
“I don’t think it feels any different. People see the whole Taylor Swift and Travis [thing] and they make it a huge deal because it is a huge deal,” Mahomes said in an ESPN sit-down in November 2023. “I think it becomes a bigger deal to the fanbases than it does to the guys who are actually in the building. … I think you can understand why it’s not become a distraction or anything like that because everybody cares about being the best they can be every day.”
Travis’ older brother, who plays for the Philadelphia Eagles, is all-in on the NFL’s coverage of Swift since she’s an “unbelievable role model.”
“The attention’s there because the audience wants to see it. If people didn’t want to see it, they wouldn’t be showing it, I know that,” Jason quipped during an interview with Cincinnati’s ABC affiliate WCPO 9 in February 2024. “She’s a world star and the quintessential artist right now in the world.”
He continued: “[She’s] immensely talented, an unbelievable role model for young women across the globe, so I think that the NFL would probably be foolish not to show her and show her be a role model for all the young girls out there.”
The retired football star confessed to Us Weekly that he “can’t understand” why football fans have been “so upset” about Swift supporting Kelce’s career.
“I mean, they show celebrities at games all the time. Don’t act like we don’t show male celebrities at games all the time,” he exclusively told Us in January 2024. “I don’t really understand why it’s caused such an uproar. I mean, she’s literally there supporting her significant other, and that’s what you should do as a significant other.”
“They lose a game, [some will say] it’s because of her. And they win a game, [some will ask], ‘Why [are] the cameras on her?’ But I like it,” Sharpe, a retired tight end, exclusively told Us in January 2024. “I like it for him. I like her being at the game. She brings a different set of eyeballs to the game. There are a lot of young girls and women that are watching the NFL football that could care less about that. And so the NFL’s, like, ‘Hey, if we get new eyeballs, we get new customers, we’re onboard.’”
The retired Miami Dolphins quarterback told Us in January 2024 that Swift “hasn’t affected any games” from her perch in the stadium crowd.
“She might as well have fun and enjoy it while she’s dating one of the stars in the NFL. And what’s wrong with that? Nothing,” Marino quipped.
Minnesota Vikings QB Kirk Cousins also sees Swift’s presence as a “positive for the league” despite certain fans booing her whenever the Chiefs lost a game.
“I mean, fans are going to be fans [and] maybe they blame her,” Cousins told Us in January 2024. “I don’t know if the blame is well placed, but I think a lot of the games she’s attended, they played really well and they won.”
“If you’re screaming at Taylor Swift saying she ruined [football], you’re just a loser,” the retired NBA All Star quipped during a February 2024 episode of his King Charles show. “You’re just a loser or a jackass. You’re either A or B. You’re one of the two.”
“They’ve got really, really something going and we enjoy having her at our games,” the Chiefs linebacker said on the “Zach Gelb Show” in January 2024. “It brings a lot of energy and a lot of fun to our fans. And so that’s good for business, good for football and good for the NFL.”
The retired Chiefs running back stressed to TMZ Sports in December 2023 that Swift has “nothing to do” with the team’s game record.
“Taylor Swift is not on the field. Travis is playing like he always plays,” Okoye said. “Teams are just doubling up on him now knowing that our receivers are dropping the balls. When you’re doing bad, people have to find excuses and they have to point fingers. Especially those who don’t like the situation about Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce.”
After news broke that Kelce was planning to spend his November 2023 bye week in Argentina to see Swift on her Eras Tour, the former Giants quarterback defended the vacation.
“I think the bye week is a great time to get away from football and I think that’s the idea,” Manning told People at the time. “It is the time to rest the body, rest the mind a little bit, recharge yourself to get ready for that second half of the season.”
He continued, “I think for him to travel, there’s nothing wrong with traveling, going somewhere. Hey, if he wants to go and support his girlfriend and see her play a concert, I’ve got no problem with that.”
The retired linebacker dismissed the backlash during a February 2024 interview with Page Six.
“I’m not down with the negative energy. I’m loving all of what they’re doing. I’m here for it,” Banks said. “[Their relationship] is one of the great moments of this NFL season and anybody that’s got a problem with it, they need to cope harder. If you can show my good friend Spike Lee at every Knicks game and every opponent’s game, then why not Taylor?”
Stephen A. Smith
The sportscaster has become one of the most vocal members of Tayvis Nation (the fan-appointed nickname for Swift and Kelce’s supporters) — and frequently defends the Grammy winner’s game day outings.
“I have to take a moment to come to the defense of Taylor Swift,” Smith said during a January 2024 ESPN broadcast. “Everybody’s sitting up there and acting like she’s some kind of impediment. … She’s going to support her dude. To show up at a football game and the cameras are on her — that ain’t her fault! And excuse me, by the way, she went to the games after the concerts. It’s not like she used the games to bump up the concerts.”
Cowherd went on an impassioned rant about the “really weird, lonely, insecure men” hating on Swift’s NFL presence during a January 2024 episode of his The Herd radio show.
“The fact that a pop star — the world’s biggest pop star — [is] dating a star tight end, who had one of his greatest games ever, and the network puts them on the air briefly, that bothers you. What does that say about your life?” Cowherd, a sportscaster, quipped. “Did you know, statistically, in a three-hour NFL broadcast … just 18 minutes are actual football, and we have the data, you don’t turn away. There’s coach cutaways, they show fans in Buffalo on fire, commercials, reviews. [It’s] 18 minutes of real football, [which] for the record [is] about the length of five Taylor Swift songs.”
Duncan, an ESPN commentator, also called out the double standard during a December 2023 episode of her“Elle Duncan Show” podcast.
“It is not her fault. I am so tired of us doing this. And we do this to women,” Duncan lamented. “It’s Jessica Simpson’s fault [that] Tony Romo spit the bit. Remember Kim Kardashian and Miles Austin for a hot second? It’s her fault. It’s always the woman’s fault for ‘distracting.’ Nobody’s asking if Travis Kelce is distracting her from a world tour. No one’s saying that. And I don’t like that.”