On Sunday, the Kansas City Chiefs will be making the team’s fourth Super Bowl appearance in the last five seasons. While some N.F.L. players go their entire career without playing for a championship, one of Kansas City’s newcomers had their ticket punched after only 12 games.
As Nicole Auerbach of The Athletic said on X, shortly after the Chiefs’ championship win: “Taylor Swift makes the Super Bowl in her first year in the league. Elite.”
Ms. Swift, who has been dating Travis Kelce, Kansas City’s star tight end, has changed the N.F.L. conversation all season, attracting a new audience for the league and inspiring strong emotions (both positive and negative) among fans. Her critics as well as her detractors may have some burning questions ahead of the game. First and foremost: Will she be there?
Has Taylor hinted at her Super Bowl plans?
Ms. Swift, as you may have heard, is good at keeping secrets. Her plans, beyond concert dates, are rarely announced in advance. That has led some to devise their own methods for figuring out what she’s up to. Ahead of a Kansas City game in October, for example, an NBC producer said he had a spotter plane searching the area around MetLife Stadium for police escorts in hopes of alerting the television crew if she showed up (she did).
Mr. Kelce was inundated with questions about Ms. Swift last week, and while he said he had heard some of her upcoming album — spoiler: he likes it — he did not offer any details about whether she would be at the game.
That being said, Ms. Swift has adjusted her busy schedule to allow her to attend 12 games already this season, so missing out on a potential Super Bowl win seems unlikely. The Associated Press reported on Saturday afternoon that her plane had been seen in Los Angeles.
But wasn’t she in Tokyo … last night?
She sure was. Her Eras Tour resumed recently, and on Saturday night in Tokyo she performed yet another marathon set of her extensive catalog of songs. With flights from Tokyo to Las Vegas often taking 13 hours or more, and human beings requiring sleep, some worried she might not make the game.
The Japanese Embassy in Washington pointed out that timing is not a real hurdle for Ms. Swift. First of all, a private jet shortens the journey (and provides a place to sleep peacefully if needed). Second of all, the international date line is her friend.
In 1873, before the international date line officially existed, the author Jules Verne mapped out Ms. Swift’s time advantage in “Around the World in 80 Days.” In the book, the protagonist Phileas Fogg believes he has lost his bet only to realize the distance and direction of his travels had saved him:
In journeying eastward he had gone towards the sun, and the days therefore diminished for him as many times four minutes as he crossed degrees in this direction. There are three hundred and sixty degrees on the circumference of the earth; and these three hundred and sixty degrees, multiplied by four minutes, gives precisely twenty-four hours — that is, the day unconsciously gained. In other words, while Phileas Fogg, going eastward, saw the sun pass the meridian eighty times, his friends in London only saw it pass the meridian seventy-nine times. This is why they awaited him at the Reform Club on Saturday, and not Sunday, as Mr. Fogg thought.
Or, as “The West Wing” summarized more succinctly in a scene that discussed President Bartlett’s journey from Tokyo to Washington, D.C. (and that recently went viral online):
Josh: He’s gonna land in Washington an hour before he took off?
For older generations, those scenes helped explain the logistics of the international date line. For Gen Z and younger, their frame of reference will likely be … when Taylor Swift flew to Las Vegas for the Super Bowl.
Why is this getting so much attention?
No one ever seemed to mind Jack Nicholson being a fixture at Los Angeles Lakers games, or Spike Lee being more associated with the New York Knicks than most of the team’s players. Drake got only a slap on the wrist when he began walking onto the court during timeouts at Toronto Raptors playoff games. But even though Ms. Swift receives relatively little airtime during the broadcasts of Kansas City’s games, she has become a target for those who still think she’s getting outsize attention.
“The attention is there because the audience wants to see it,” Jason Kelce, brother of Travis, said in an interview during last week’s Pro Bowl festivities. “If people didn’t want to see it they wouldn’t be showing it.”
As Ms. Swift put it, “a few dads, Brads, and Chads” may be angry, but the TV networks are thrilled. A ratings analysis by The Upshot indicated that she very well may be a driving factor for the league’s increased audience. Coach Andy Reid of the Chiefs has repeatedly said that he’s happy to have her around, and the N.F.L., which is enjoying an unexpected expansion of its built-in audience, has fully embraced her association with the league.
“N.F.L. fans come in all types — even global sensations,” said Alex Riethmiller, an N.F.L. spokesman. “We’re glad to have Taylor on board.”
If she makes it to the game, who might she sit with?
During the regular season, Ms. Swift attended numerous games in Kansas City while seated in a luxury suite controlled by Mr. Kelce’s close friend and longtime teammate, Patrick Mahomes. She appeared to become fast friends with Mr. Mahomes’s wife, Brittany, and was regularly seen with other members of the Mahomes family.
She has also spent time at games with Mr. Kelce’s parents, Donna and Ed, and her own father, mother and brother came with her to a game on Christmas. During Ms. Swift’s trip to New Jersey for a Chiefs-Jets game she was seated with friends like the actors Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively.
At a playoff game in Buffalo last month, she and Kylie Kelce were among those shown reacting to Jason Kelce’s shirtless bellowing and fraternizing with the crowd.
And at the A.F.C. championship game in Baltimore, she was surrounded by Mr. Kelce’s family and associates, including Donna and Ed Kelce, Jason and Kylie Kelce and Mr. Kelce’s managers, Aaron and André Eanes. There were also a few of Ms. Swift’s friends, like the actress Keleigh Teller and the model Cara Delevingne.
This is Taylor, surely there’s some numerology involved?
Ms. Swift has said she loves the number 13, and her fans can seemingly find it everywhere. In the case of this year’s Super Bowl, the examples are plentiful:
Super Bowl 58 (5+8=13)
Feb. 11, 2/11 (2+11=13)
Kansas City is playing the 49ers (4+9=13)
The 49ers were the No. 1 seed in the N.F.C., while the Chiefs were the No. 3 seed in the A.F.C. (1 and 3 — 13)
This is the 13th N.F.L. game Ms. Swift has attended this season
It is unclear if it is a good or bad sign that San Francisco’s starting quarterback, Brock Purdy, wears No. 13. Time will tell.