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We Asked 6 NFL Players What They Really Think of the ‘Taylor Swift Effect’ on Football (Exclusive)

Taylor Swift’s effect on football has been felt by everyone, including NFL players.

Since Swift began dating Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce during summer 2023, the NFL has embraced her connection to the sport. The league has frequently panned to her real-time reactions to the game, used her music for promos and made puns about Kelce’s stats with references to her tracks.

The continuous coverage outraged some, who felt that the Grammy winner’s presence was taking priority over the game, but Swift and Kelce haven’t let the backlash put a damper on their relationship.

“I’ll say this, they showed Taylor at the game and you don’t see an entire home team fanbase go insane for somebody wearing the opposite team’s colors. Just shows you how amazing that girl is,” Kelce said on his “New Heights” podcast in December 2023. “They went absolutely insane when they showed Taylor on the screen.”

He continued, “Might have been a few Brads and Chads that were booing, but for the most part, everybody was f—king screaming at Taylor. I was trying to keep it cool, I was like, ‘Don’t show your cards.’”

Kelce isn’t the only one who’s defended Swift amid the hate. Keep scrolling to see what other NFL stars have told Us Weekly about Swift’s impact on football:

We Asked 6 NFL Players What They Really Think of the Taylor Swift Effect on Football 771
Rob Gronkowski. Noam Galai/Getty Images for The Cantor Fitzgerald Relief Fund

Rob Gronkowski

The former New England Patriots tight end exclusively told Us he thinks Swift’s presence is “great for the NFL.”

“I think she’s the only person in the world to just go and be a spectator at an NFL game and still be able to sell out the whole entire stadium,” he said in February 2024. “Yes, the stadium would be sold out, but just for a regular game during a regular season, she was selling out stadiums as just a spectator. That just shows just how powerful of a performer she is and just how people want to be around her.”

Gronkowski noted that “it’s great” she’s bringing new viewers to the game, which also “shows how great of a game the NFL is because that new viewership is sticking.”

“They’re staying to watch the product of the NFL because the NFL has a great product with the games that they’re putting out there on the field every Sunday,” he said.

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Julian Edelman

The former Patriots wide receiver exclusively told Us in February 2024 the “more eyeballs, more better” when it comes to Swift and the NFL.

We Asked 6 NFL Players What They Really Think of the Taylor Swift Effect on Football 770
J.J. Watt. Mike Lawrie/Getty Images

J.J. Watt

While J.J. Watt has heard the criticism of Swift’s effect on the NFL, he exclusively told Us in January 2024 that he disagrees.

“I think it’s great. I can’t understand why people are so upset about it,” Watt said. “I mean, they show celebrities at games all the time. Don’t act like we don’t show male celebrities at games all the time. I don’t really understand why it’s caused such an uproar.”

The former Houston Texans player noted that Swift is “literally there supporting her significant other,” which he said is “what you should do as a significant other.” Watt added that Swift has “brought in a massive amount of new fans” to the sport and “all sorts of eyeballs and interest.”

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Kirk Cousins

The Minnesota Vikings quarterback said frequent coverage of Swift has “certainly been a positive” for the league.

“I think there [have] been a lot of new football fans that five months ago probably weren’t following pro football, but now they are,” Cousins exclusively told Us in January 2024. “I think that’s a win for everybody involved and hopefully, she’s around the game for a long time.”

We Asked 6 NFL Players What They Really Think of the Taylor Swift Effect on Football 769
Dan Marino. Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Dan Marino

The former Miami Dolphins quarterback exclusively told Us in January 2024 he’s a big fan of her effect on the sport.

“I mean, she hasn’t affected any games, but from the media standpoint, she’s there. It’s part of it,” Marino said. “She’s loved and from what I’ve heard, I don’t know her … she’s a terrific person and she cares about people, and she cares about taking care of people, which is an amazing thing, especially if you’re in her position.”

He continued, “To me, I give her a lot of respect for that, first of all. And then, she might as well have fun and enjoy it while she’s dating one of the stars in the NFL. And what’s wrong with that? Nothing.”

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Shannon Sharpe

The NFL Hall of Famer, who mentored Kelce, said that the tight end has handled the extra attention well this season.

“As long as you understand the main thing is the main thing,” he exclusively told Us in January 2024. “Don’t forget now: you’re a football player. Now, I understand that he’s dating Taylor Swift, and she’s as big as we have in the universe, but your job still requires you to be great at playing the game of football. And I think he’s done a great job of that.”

While the former Denver Broncos tight end noted that Kelce has been in the spotlight before, he said “it’s a lot hotter” when dealing with someone of the “magnitude” of Swift.

“I think she’s great. … I don’t know her personally, but for him — knowing him the way I do — I don’t think he involves himself with somebody that’s not of the highest quality and a person of good character. I think they make a cute couple.”

Sharpe added that he’s “very excited” for Kelce, and thinks the tight end “understands the scrutiny that was going to come along with [the public eye].”

“They lose a game, [some will say] it’s because of her; And they win a game, [some will ask], ‘Why [are] the cameras on her?’ But I like it,” Sharpe said. “I like it for him. I like her being at the game. She brings a different set of eyeballs to the game. There are a lot of young girls and women that are watching the NFL football that could care less about that. And so the NFL’s, like, ‘Hey, if we get new eyeballs, we get new customers, we’re onboard.’ But the increased attention, I think he’s handled it very well.”

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