Debate erupts over Taylor Swift being a ‘distraction’ for Travis Kelce and Chiefs after latest loss

A sign referring to Taylor Swift is seen in the stands during the first half of an NFL football game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Las Vegas Raiders Monday, Dec. 25, 2023, in Kansas City, Mo.
Even with Taylor Swift festively donning a Santa hat bearing Travis Kelce’s jersey number, and prominently cheering for her boyfriend from a VIP suite at Arrowhead Stadium, he and and the rest of his Kansas City Chiefs looked frustrated and miserable as they lost 20-14 to the Las Vegas Raiders on Christmas Day.

It was the team’s third loss this season with Swift in attendance, prompting prominent sports analyst Skip Bayless to raise the question that appears to be on the minds of some Chiefs’ fans. In a post on X Monday, he suggested that the media’s feverish coverage of Swift’s romance with Kelce — and the NFL’s apparent obsession with promoting the relationship — has become a “distraction” for the team and for the league.

“Feels like it’s about time to call Taylor Swift a distraction. What do you think, Patrick? Andy? How about you, Travis?” Bayless wrote on X, addressing Kelce, as well as quarterback Patrick Mahomes and head coach Andy Reid.

Bayless followed up on X on Tuesday morning, writing: “Chiefs imploding on the field and the sideline. Taylor Swift Effect???” On his show “Undisputed,” Bayless also said: “You can have Taylor Swift up in the suite if you want her. She can look down on your team and bless your team, if that’s what you want ….” But he said the Raiders clearly didn’t care, dramatically explaining how the Las Vegas team played “with violence” and with the intent to “bring pain.”

Kelce certainly felt emotional pain Monday, indulging in a meltdown on the sidelines after the Chiefs allowed the Raiders to score back-to-back defensive touchdowns in an NFL record seven seconds, as the Daily Mail reported. Cameras caught Kelce throwing his helmet on the ground in disgust and then clashing with Reid.

“They just need to face it. Kelce needs to focus more on football instead of focusing on Taylor swift,” one person wrote in response to Bayless’ post about the “Taylor Swift effect.”

But other NFL fans, as well as Swifties, strongly objected to the idea that Swift is the reason the Chiefs lost Monday or in the two other games she attended. They said that Bayless is raising a sexist trope that blames the wives or girlfriends of male athletes for whenever they or their teams suffer a losing streak. These fans also point out that Chiefs haven’t exactly been playing like the Super Bowl champions they were in 2022. The New York Post reported that the team’s offense has struggled with consistency, starting with Mahomes.

“53 men play a team sport and it’s a woman in the stands to blame for losing a game? Like WTF?” another person wrote in response to Bayless’ post. “Perhaps the men on the team need to be held accountable for mistakes on the field! Kelce is not the problem. He is double/triple teamed and still leads NFL with 968 yards!”

Someone else also said on Bayless’ earlier post: “Last time I checked Taylor Swift wasn’t playing for the Chiefs. That’s like calling out and blaming the Chiefs poor performance on Brittany Mahomes and his little brother Jackson. It’s an absolutely ridiculous and pathetic excuse.”

Then again, others argued that consequences are inevitable when one player on a team, such as Kelce, becomes the focus of so much attention because he is dating a mega-star. “The second I saw TS at the game I knew the Chiefs would struggle,” the person said. “Football is a team game. It does not matter what players say publicly. Privately it’s annoying for it to be about one or two guys on a team.”

A more favorable view of the “Taylor Swift effect” emerged after the Chiefs won the first three games Swift attended. The “Anti-Hero” singer made her first appearance at a Chiefs game on Sept. 24, after there were reports that she and Kelce were dating. Swift sat in the Kelce family’s private suite at the game with the tight end’s mother, Donna Kelce.

Swift brought even more attention to Kelce and the Chiefs when she brought her celebrity friends — Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Hugh Jackman and Sophie Turner — along with her to their Oct. 1 game against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium.

This winning streak with Swift’s high-profile appearances at Kelce’s games ended on Dec. 3, when the Chiefs lost to the Green Bay Packers, 27-19. The Chiefs also lost Dec. 10 to the Buffalo Bills, 20-17, with Swift there. However, Swift was present when the Chiefs defeated the New England Patriots on Dec. 17.

The Chiefs’ “shock” loss to the Raiders on Monday left Swift in the position of having to console Mahomes’ wife Brittany, the Daily Mail said. While Swift “looked deflated,” she rubbed Brittany Mahomes’ shoulder as the quarterback’s wife clasped her hands to her face and looked “shell-shocked.”