Since September 2023 rumours of a relationship between Kansas City Chiefs star Travis Kelce and Taylor Swift have been circulating.

Coming off the back of a championship-winning season the Chiefs have declined this year, dropping from a 14-3 record in 2022 to an 11-6 record this season. Kelce has also struggled this year compared to last, with 2022 being statistically his third-best performing season while this year has seen some of his lowest numbers since 2015.

There are dozens of things that could have caused this, but many fans have come to the conclusion that Taylor Swift is somehow the cause. Added media coverage and mass online discussion about their relationship certainly bring added pressure to both the team and Kelce.

Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce

Is there some truth to this or is it just lazy misogyny?

Last season Travis Kelce was instrumental for the Chiefs in their Superbowl victory over the Philadelphia Eagles in February 2023. Over the course of that season, the NFL tight end recorded some of his best-ever statistics achieving 1,338 receiving yards and scoring a personal record, 12 touchdowns. In comparison this season Kelce has scored only 5 touchdowns and recorded 984 receiving yards. This brings an end to his seven-season long run of ending each season with over 1,000 receiving yards, an NFL record.

So, is this decline on last season’s numbers all down to Swift and the huge spotlight being her boyfriend has brought with it? Well, no. In fact, Kelce has more than once risen to the occasion playing some of his best football all season when Swift has been in the stands.

Between September 24th and December 17th, Swift attended four out of seven games and, in that time, Kelce has averaged a strong 7 catches and 89.5 yards per game as well as scoring 2 touchdowns. Meanwhile, in six games that Taylor Swift has not attended Kelce has managed an average of 6 catches and 50 yards per game. Many athletes before have experienced declines when in the spotlight of a highly publicised relationship, such as when David Beckham began dating Posh Spice or NFL star Reggie Bush with Kim Kardashian. However, while there certainly has been a decline this season for the 34-year-old his numbers remain strong ranking 16th this season for receptions (catches) and 29th for receiving yards in the NFL.

American football at the end of the day is a team sport and it takes the entire team to win games not just one player even if they are as talented as Kelce. Following up a championship-winning season is tough for any team and it’s common for teams to experience a second-season slump. Furthermore, Kelce is not getting any younger and, in a sport, as physically demanding as American football, it’s only a matter of time before a player begins to decline as they move towards retirement age. The Kansas City Chiefs are weaker this year in comparison to previous campaigns, but blaming that all on one player’s new relationship is a little far-fetched.

No one knows as of yet how long Swift and Kelce will stay together but however long they do last it’s certain that they will remain the most publicised and analysed couple on earth.

How they continue to handle this pressure and how it impacts their careers we will have to wait and see.

Manus Daly – Contributor