In the afterglow of a thrilling victory, to which Kelce would ultimately contribute a game-high nine catches for 93 yards, all was forgiven.
“He wants to help his team win — it’s not a selfish thing,” Reid said. “I understand that. As much as he bumps into me, I get after him. He just caught me off balance.”
And so it was that Kelce, the most scrutinized figure of the 2023 NFL season, who held the public’s attention until the very end, following his outburst and redemptive performance by scream-singing “Viva Las Vegas” atop the Chiefs’ victory podium at Allegiant Stadium as pop icon Taylor Swift, Kelce’s mother, Donna, and brother, Jason, looked on below.
What might have been obscured by the Swift chronicle is that Kelce played some of the best football of his career in pursuit of his third Super Bowl title. In what figures to stand as one of his twilight seasons, the 34-year-old made a legitimate claim as the best tight end the game has ever seen.
And Kelce made it clear as the confetti fell that he’s not done.
“Hell yeah,” Kelce bellowed to ESPN when asked if he would return in 2024. “I want that three-peat.”
KELCE WAS IN high demand well before the most famous pop star on the planet entered his orbit. There were Paris Fashion Week appearances and “Saturday Night Live” hosting duties, a spate of national commercials and the ultra-popular podcast he hosts with Jason. This was a player who NFL fans already recognized without his helmet.
But with every television camera pan to Swift in the family suite, the spotlight on Kelce went from merely intense to potentially blinding, a zenith that redefined “New Heights.”
Paparazzi became fixtures outside of Kelce’s Kansas City home. He found himself in heavy Us Weekly rotation. His haircut, the two-guard fade, became the subject of New York Times and Esquire stories.
Clearing an interview with anyone from Kelce’s camp, a group heralded for its accessibility and affability, began requiring something akin to national security clearance.
Those who know Kelce will say he has the perfect demeanor to manage all of this, a largely stress-free man who isn’t living if he’s not immersed in the action. Privately, though, several Chiefs sources acknowledged Kelce’s challenges: a high-demand schedule, including those endorsements, podcast appearances and a midseason trip to Argentina to see Swift in concert, all undertaken while trying to get all the way back from a Week 1 ankle injury.