Taylor Swift Rigs the NFL?

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Three Kansas City Chiefs players during a 2021 game against the Commanders. The NFL has recently been under fire for potentially biasing the Chiefs during the 2023-24 playoffs. (Photo Courtesy of Public Domain)

Among Americans, the Super Bowl is the pinnacle of American sporting events. With so much national attention, conspiracy theories have sprouted due to purported bias from officials and referees.

Critics of the NFL claim that officials such as judges and referees make biased decisions during playoffs to propel their favored teams and supposedly “set up” the Super Bowl.

Super Bowl LVIII faced intense criticism from some NFL viewers for purported rigging of the game, specifically in favor of the Kansas City Chiefs. Many of these fans have posted their beliefs online that the Chiefs have an unfair advantage due to the popularity the Chiefs have garnered this season. The team’s quarterback Patrick Maholmes and the tight-end Travis Kelce have had heaps of media attention recently, the latter for his relationship with Taylor Swift.

Many fans of teams who’ve been eliminated in the playoffs feel strongly about the NFL’s alleged favoritism towards the Chiefs. “The Chiefs have been given an obvious advantage all season, and it’s not even close,” said James Leonard, junior and Dallas Cowboys fan “Not only bailing them out of tough games, but just outright holding and pass interference calls [being] ignored by officials.” 

During an October interview on KCSP (610 AM), Former NFL Vice President of Officiating Dean Blandino disagreed with claims against officials ignoring pass interference. “No, I didn’t see pass interference on that call,” Blandino said. “There were a couple of plays towards the end of that game that there was some debate about but I didn’t think there was pass interference at the end of the game.”

Some NFL players have also voiced their concerns with the NFL’s general officiating bias and incompetency. After the December 24 Cowboys vs. Dolphins game, Michael Parsons, a Cowboys linebacker, complained in a postgame interview —  “It’s mind-blowing, the things that are getting called, and the positions that we get put in,” Parsons said. “We just have to learn how to fight the adversity. I know a lot of it is BS, but it’s the world we live in.”

Even Chiefs fans believe something is amiss. 

“I usually just dismiss them…[but] it’s increasingly becoming obvious that something is going on,” said Henry Cash, junior. “There’s no way someone should be able to get this far consistently every single time…and the Chiefs aren’t really that good right now.”

Out of the past five years, the Chiefs have made it to the Super Bowl four times, which while that may seem high, that frequency of attendance isn’t unheard of. The New England patriots have also achieved the same frequency of Super Bowl appearances, going to the Super Bowl 4 out of the 5 years from 2015 to 2019.

Recently, NFL officials have denied the mass allegations. Roger Goodell, the commissioner of the NFL, vehemently opposed the “nonsense” claims that the NFL is rigging games in favor of the Chiefs and Taylor Swift. “I think the idea that this was a script, that this was pre-planned, that’s nonsense,” Goodell said. “It’s frankly not even worth talking about. We see two people together having fun together.”

Taylor Swift is at the epicenter of the NFL conspiracy theories. Many right-wing personalities believe that her relationship with Travis Kelce may be financially motivating officials to take the side of the Chiefs, as her fame has brought her fan’s attention to both the Chiefs’ performance and the NFL as a whole.

Taylor and Travis’ relationship has, in fact, brought some benefit to the NFL. Ever since they entered a relationship, Business Insider reports their popularity has caused Chiefs and Kelce merchandise to skyrocket in sales, almost fivefold.

Fans of Taylor Swift refute the idea that the NFL is giving too much airtime to Taylor Swift at NFL games. “It’s not like she’s there [saying] ‘Guys, pay attention to me!’ she’s just there to support her boyfriend,” said Emily Sendall, junior. 

All claims against the NFL are uncorroborated, and nothing can be proven unless substantial and concrete evidence is provided. After Super Bowl XVIII, rigging tensions may grow again depending on the results of the game.

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