The Penalty Box: The Ultimate Super Bowl Distraction

February 7, 2024 at 8:00 a.m.

By Roger Grossman

One of the charms of the week leading up to the Super Bowl is hearing players talk about all of the distractions they’ve had to deal with before they play in the biggest game of their lives.
They aren’t wrong.
People come to you for tickets. Media outlets want to do interviews. You have to make arrangements for your family to be with you in the Super Bowl city in the days leading up to the game. You hear from people you haven’t heard from for who knows how long. Investigative reporters dig into your social media posts from back when you were 16 years old. Crazy family member stories get uncovered.
Distractions.
But ahead of the “game of the year” on Sunday, the distraction level is unlike any other we’ve ever seen.
Truthfully, it’s not a “what” the distraction is, it’s a “who”—it’s a “her”.
It’s Taylor Swift.
This game is so big there is no one who just takes over the Super Bowl and makes it their own…but Taylor Swift is threatening to do exactly that.
Now, you read those words and you immediately think “he hates Taylor Swift!”
Couldn’t be less true.
I see her for who she is: a singer who is physically beautiful and seems to have the whole world wrapped around her finger.
She’s not the first to do that, just the latest.
But this? This is different.
The rumors about Swift and Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce started swirling in mid-September, and then she showed up at the Bears-Chiefs game on September 24 and sat in the family’s suite.
Everything changed.
Swift has been at every game since, and she’s flying home from her gig in Tokyo to be at Sunday’s game.
CBS has the broadcast, and you can bet there have been multiple production meetings about how often they will cut away to shots of her with his family.
The betting class of people now has almost one hundred side betting options to choose from. We’re talking about everything from how many cutaways to her between the kickoff and the final piece of confetti falls to whether Kelce will propose to her on the field if Kansas City wins.
The question everyone has been chewing on is: “Is this good for the league or not?”
Like anything else, the way people answer this question falls along “party lines”.
If you like Taylor Swift, then you think it’s the greatest thing ever.
If you don’t, then it’s at least annoying and maybe it’s a mild-to-moderate pain in the behind.
The National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell is clearly here for it.
“It has connected more fans of Taylor’s and more fans of the NFL in some ways,” he said in an interview back in November. “To see that they have a connection, now they have a connection to our game and to Taylor. … I think it’s great for the league to have that kind of attention. So, we welcome it.”
What are we talking about here?
First, we have TV ratings.
Since Swift started showing up on TV’s around America, the number of people watching the NFL has skyrocketed. The Bears-Chiefs game drew a staggering 29.4 million viewers, making it the most watched game since last year’s Super Bowl.
The record for viewership for the Super Bowl is last year’s 115.1 million people.
If Swift is there, the ratings for Sunday night will crush that. CRUSH it!
The other impact she’s had has been on jersey sales.
Remember, her boyfriend is not some back up for the kick return squad. Travis Kelce is a top-5 player in the NFL and he’s going into the Pro Football Hall of Fame when he’s done playing. His jersey was a top-5 seller on any authorized website before she showed up, and immediately Swifties started buying up the #87 Chiefs jersey in massive quantities. Sales shot up 400-percent in a week!
So, yah, the NFL office is total good with all of that.
But the question still remains: “Is it good for the league’s overall product?”
My response: “Does it really matter? No, it does not.”
It’s a story line for this year’s game. He is an all-time-great player on a team immersed in dynasty discussions, and she is probably the most famous person in the world right now—and they are dating. You can’t avoid it.
But how much is too much?
Maybe if Jim Nantz and Tony Romo call the game the “Swifty Bowl” during the broadcast, then we’ll know.

One of the charms of the week leading up to the Super Bowl is hearing players talk about all of the distractions they’ve had to deal with before they play in the biggest game of their lives.
They aren’t wrong.
People come to you for tickets. Media outlets want to do interviews. You have to make arrangements for your family to be with you in the Super Bowl city in the days leading up to the game. You hear from people you haven’t heard from for who knows how long. Investigative reporters dig into your social media posts from back when you were 16 years old. Crazy family member stories get uncovered.
Distractions.
But ahead of the “game of the year” on Sunday, the distraction level is unlike any other we’ve ever seen.
Truthfully, it’s not a “what” the distraction is, it’s a “who”—it’s a “her”.
It’s Taylor Swift.
This game is so big there is no one who just takes over the Super Bowl and makes it their own…but Taylor Swift is threatening to do exactly that.
Now, you read those words and you immediately think “he hates Taylor Swift!”
Couldn’t be less true.
I see her for who she is: a singer who is physically beautiful and seems to have the whole world wrapped around her finger.
She’s not the first to do that, just the latest.
But this? This is different.
The rumors about Swift and Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce started swirling in mid-September, and then she showed up at the Bears-Chiefs game on September 24 and sat in the family’s suite.
Everything changed.
Swift has been at every game since, and she’s flying home from her gig in Tokyo to be at Sunday’s game.
CBS has the broadcast, and you can bet there have been multiple production meetings about how often they will cut away to shots of her with his family.
The betting class of people now has almost one hundred side betting options to choose from. We’re talking about everything from how many cutaways to her between the kickoff and the final piece of confetti falls to whether Kelce will propose to her on the field if Kansas City wins.
The question everyone has been chewing on is: “Is this good for the league or not?”
Like anything else, the way people answer this question falls along “party lines”.
If you like Taylor Swift, then you think it’s the greatest thing ever.
If you don’t, then it’s at least annoying and maybe it’s a mild-to-moderate pain in the behind.
The National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell is clearly here for it.
“It has connected more fans of Taylor’s and more fans of the NFL in some ways,” he said in an interview back in November. “To see that they have a connection, now they have a connection to our game and to Taylor. … I think it’s great for the league to have that kind of attention. So, we welcome it.”
What are we talking about here?
First, we have TV ratings.
Since Swift started showing up on TV’s around America, the number of people watching the NFL has skyrocketed. The Bears-Chiefs game drew a staggering 29.4 million viewers, making it the most watched game since last year’s Super Bowl.
The record for viewership for the Super Bowl is last year’s 115.1 million people.
If Swift is there, the ratings for Sunday night will crush that. CRUSH it!
The other impact she’s had has been on jersey sales.
Remember, her boyfriend is not some back up for the kick return squad. Travis Kelce is a top-5 player in the NFL and he’s going into the Pro Football Hall of Fame when he’s done playing. His jersey was a top-5 seller on any authorized website before she showed up, and immediately Swifties started buying up the #87 Chiefs jersey in massive quantities. Sales shot up 400-percent in a week!
So, yah, the NFL office is total good with all of that.
But the question still remains: “Is it good for the league’s overall product?”
My response: “Does it really matter? No, it does not.”
It’s a story line for this year’s game. He is an all-time-great player on a team immersed in dynasty discussions, and she is probably the most famous person in the world right now—and they are dating. You can’t avoid it.
But how much is too much?
Maybe if Jim Nantz and Tony Romo call the game the “Swifty Bowl” during the broadcast, then we’ll know.

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