To the surprise of no one, Goodell was asked extensively about pop superstar Taylor Swift’s impact on the NFL ahead of Super Bowl LVIII at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. Swift has attended 12 games this season in support of boyfriend Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs, in the process creating legions of new NFL fans.
The Chiefs’ victory over the Baltimore Ravens on January 28 drew over 55 million viewers, the most ever for an AFC Championship game, according to CBS Sports.
Prior to that, the playoff game between the Chiefs and the Bills was the most-watched divisional playoff game in history with over 50 million viewers, CBS said.
When asked about huge recent viewing numbers and the perceived “Taylor Swift effect,” Goodell chuckled.
“I would tell you it’s because of the great competition. The competition has been off the charts this year,” Goodell said. “70% of our games have been within one score in the fourth quarter. The young stars, the older stars, the amazing performances by teams – you see all that, that’s what fans ultimately love.”
But Goodell could not discount the added attention that Swift’s relationship with the Chiefs’ tight end has brought to the league.
“Having the ‘Taylor Swift Effect’ is also a positive,” he said.
“Obviously, it creates a buzz. It creates another group of young fans, particularly young women that are interested in seeing, ‘Why is she going to this game? Why is she interested in this game?’ Besides Travis, she is a football fan, and I think that’s great for us.”
Goodell also laughed off the conspiracy theories that Swift’s presence is all part of the NFL’s scripting of the season.
“I don’t think I’m that good a scripter or anybody on our staff,” he said.
“Listen, there is no way that I could have scripted that one, let’s just put it that way … She’s a remarkable performer. She knows great entertainment. I had the opportunity to go to two of her concerts with our girls and my wife. She’s the best of the best, and so having her come to NFL games, to have her be a part of that is nothing but a positive.”
The Chiefs take on the San Francisco 49ers in Sunday’s Super Bowl, and Swift is expected to be in attendance – even though she is playing a concert in Tokyo the day before.
Last week, the Japanese Embassy in Washington assured fans that Swift could “comfortably arrive in Las Vagas” before the game, despite the 12-hour flight and 17-hour time difference.
Goodell admitted that all of his family are “Swifties” and said that it is impossible to ignore the increased interest in the NFL that the pop star has brought.
“We hear the stories, we see the data, people are talking about the game that weren’t talking about the game yesterday. And whatever that reason is, I’m good with it, as long as they get exposure to our game.
“Taylor is obviously a dynamo. Everything she touches, obviously, there are people following. And so we count ourselves fortunate and we welcome it.”
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