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EXCLUSIVE: Travis Kelce, Patrick Mahomes and Kansas City

Travis Kelce, Patrick Mahomes, and Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid were seen boarding the team bus to US Bank Stadium for Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings, but Taylor Swift was mysteriously absence leading up to the 4:15pm EST kickoff.

Wearing a partially unbuttoned white, silk shirt and some brown pants that may have been velvet, the mustachioed Kelce loaded himself on the team bus in Minneapolis, where hope to win their fourth consecutive game.

The team is 2-0 with Kelce’s new girlfriend, Swift, in the crowd.

She was at Sunday’s game against the New York Jets in East Rutherford, New Jersey, where the Chiefs pulled out a difficult 23-20 victory to improve to 3-1. A week earlier, Swift was in Kansas City to see Kelce score a touchdown in an easy 41-10 win over the Chicago Bears.

For both games, Swift was pictured in a suite alongside Kelce’s mother, Donna.

Travis Kelce was sporting a white silk shirt and a pair of brown velvet pants on Sunday

Travis Kelce was sporting a white silk shirt and a pair of brown velvet pants on Sunday

Travis Kelce is seen boarding the Chiefs bus to US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis on Sunday

Travis Kelce is seen boarding the Chiefs bus to US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis on Sunday

Kansas City Chiefs Quarterback Patrick Mahomes

Kansas City Chiefs Head Coach Andy Reid

Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid (right) board the Chiefs’ team bus to US Bank Stadium 

Travis Kelce continued to push the parameters of the NFL's gameday dress code on Sunday

Travis Kelce continued to push the parameters of the NFL’s gameday dress code on Sunday

Minneapolis gave a mixed welcome to the Chiefs on Sunday. 

One billboard for a local radio station simply read ‘Beat Taylor’s Boyfriend’ on a purple background – the colors of the Vikings.

Another ad from pharmaceutical company Pfizer said ‘Welcome’ with a jersey saying ‘Mr Pfizer 87’ on the back.

The latter billboard is a reference to the nickname granted to him by injured Jets quarterback and noted anti-vaxxer Aaron Rodgers.

Rodgers gave Kelce that nickname after the tight end began appearing in  that company’s advertisements for their Covid-19 vaccine.

Kelce has long prided himself on his ability to compartmentalize his personal life and his professional life.

That ability has been put to the test the past few weeks.

Ever since the All-Pro tight end’s budding relationship Swift surfaced, Kelce has become an A-list headline-maker in his own right. 

Billboards mocking Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce popped up around Minneapolis

Billboards mocking Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce popped up around Minneapolis

Travis Kelce

Taylor Swift

The city is waiting to see if Kelce’s girlfriend, pop superstar Taylor Swift, will show up 

Others, like this one from Pfizer, played into the media circus surrounding Kelce's visit

Others, like this one from Pfizer, played into the media circus surrounding Kelce’s visit

He learned that when paparazzi staked out Swift’s apartment in New York last week, capturing the moment he walked out the morning before the Chiefs played the Jets, while other photographers have been scoping out his own residence in the Kansas City area.

‘We’re learning with the paparazzi taking photos all over the place,’ Kelce admitted Friday, ‘but at the same time it comes with it. You’ve just got to keep living and enjoying the moments.’ 

Neither of the parties have divulged much about their relationship, and Kelce didn’t go into details Friday when he spoke to the media for the first time in weeks. But given that Swift has twice appeared in a suite to watch Kelce play, including alongside his mother Donna Kelce, it is easy to see why there has been such an intense focus on the duo.

Patrick Mahomes sported a sharp pinstriped suit ahead of Sunday's game against the Vikings

Patrick Mahomes sported a sharp pinstriped suit ahead of Sunday’s game against the Vikings

Swift even traveled to New York - catching last Sunday's Jets-Chiefs game at MetLife Stadium

Swift even traveled to New York – catching last Sunday’s Jets-Chiefs game at MetLife Stadium

The timing couldn’t be much better for either of them.

Kelce turned 34 on Thursday and is much closer to the end of his career than the beginning, and the elevation of his profile will no doubt help his post-football career. His podcast with his brother and Philadelphia Eagles center Jason Kelce, called ‘New Heights,’ has soared in popularity, and Kelce’s mustachioed mug is suddenly popping up in advertisements and commercials for everything from State Farm and Hy-Vee to Pfizer and Experian.

Swift is on a break from her ‘The Eras’ tour, but a film about it is due to begin playing in at least 8,500 theaters across 100 countries next week. The movie chain AMC Entertainment Holdings, which happens to be based in suburban Kansas City, said it had sold more than $100 million in advance tickets, and produced the highest single-day ticket revenue in its history.

Meanwhile, the NFL and its broadcast partners are keen to take advantage of the pop culture moment.

Asked whether Kelce was surprised by the sudden interest in him, and his relationship with Swift, he replied: ‘It’s worldwide, man — worldwide. It’s been magnified for sure.’

All the while, Kelce has been trying to help the Chiefs defend their Super Bowl title. They’ve won three straight after losing their opener to Detroit, and they are favored heading to Minnesota on Sunday. (No word on whether Swift will attend.)

‘It felt like I was on top of the world after the Super Bowl and right now even more on top of the world,’ Kelce said after Friday afternoon’s practice. ‘At the end of the day, I have always been pretty good about compartmentalizing and being able to stay focused in this building, so I’m just going to keep rolling with that.’

Indeed, Kelce always has juggled a life away from football.

In 2016, he starred in his own reality dating show, coincidentally, called ‘Catching Kelce.’ He’s pitched plenty of products and services. And he’s played in numerous high-profile golf tournaments, such as a made-for-TV match alongside Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes against the NBA’s Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry just before the start of this season.

Taylor Swift cheers from a suite with Donna Kelce in Kansas City on September 24

Taylor Swift cheers from a suite with Donna Kelce in Kansas City on September 24

Yet none of it has ever affected his performance. Kelce had never missed a game to injury since his rookie season before a hyperextended knee kept him out against the Lions; he has played every game since. And he is riding a streak of at least 1,000 yards receiving in seven straight seasons, resulting in eight trips to the Pro Bowl and four first-team All-Pro nods.

His success is a big reason for the Chiefs’ success. They’ve won the last seven AFC West titles, hosted the last five conference championship games and won two of the three Super Bowls they have appeared in over the past four seasons.

Kelce’s profile has never been higher, though, thanks to the aura that Swift has cast upon him.

‘I know I brought this on myself,’ he said. ‘I’ve been fortunate to have fun with it. That’s all that really matters, that it’s not pissing anybody off (within the Chiefs) at least. Like I said earlier, I’ve been pretty good at compartmentalizing and making sure my focus is on winning the game, and I don’t see that changing any time soon.’


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