But then there’s this year’s matchup between Kansas City and San Francisco. It was so much different last year when Travis was facing his older brother, Jason, and the Philadelphia Eagles. That was emotional for everyone involved.
“I know who I’m rooting for this year,” said Ed, patriarch of the family. “Last year, I had no favorites.”
Ed Kelce spoke exclusively Saturday to the Los Angeles Times, over coffee at his hotel, about the excitement his younger son feels, the support shared by the brothers, and the supercharged interest — yet disarming down-to-earth normalcy — of the world’s biggest musical star.
“Every game there's people crowding outside the front of that suite trying to get a glimpse of Taylor, wanting to meet Taylor,” he said. “Taylor's very gracious, but she can't do everything. And she's got security guys who don't want her doing anything. That's their job and she's smart enough to know, 'I'm paying these guys to keep me safe. I should probably listen to them.'
“But if it was up to her she'd be out there with everyone who wants her.”
It was a surreal scene in Baltimore two weeks ago when the Chiefs won the AFC championship game and Swift came down to the field to celebrate with her boyfriend. Ed Kelce was right behind her and gave his son a bear hug.
The Chiefs, led by two-time Most Valuable Player Patrick Mahomes, are in the NFL’s biggest game for the fourth time in five years. Coach Andy Reid has already won two Super Bowls with them, and is on a Hall of Fame trajectory along with his quarterback and tight end.
Kelce was spectacular in the conference title game with 11 catches for 116 yards and a touchdown. From his dad’s perspective, at least, it’s going to take more than that to beat the 49ers.
“Is Kansas City’s offense going to be good enough to handle San Francisco?” he said. “We know San Francisco's defense is going to be everything the Chiefs can handle. Is the Chiefs defense going to do the same thing? If this comes down to the Travis and Patrick show, we're in trouble. No ifs, ands or buts about it.”
Then he gave that some thought and reconsidered.
“I can say that if it's up to the Travis and Pat Show, we're in trouble,” he said. “But the two of them play their best ball when they're under the gun.”
Although they were divorced a decade ago, Ed and Donna Kelce are friendly and have worked out a system when it comes to watching their sons play. Often, one is at the Kansas City game while the other is at the Eagles. Their sons love having both of them around.
“I feel like through the Super Bowl, everybody getting to see my family, being able to put my mother and my father on the front page of the paper and in everybody’s living room was by far the coolest part of the Super Bowl,” Travis told The Times last summer.
Ed turned down an offer to watch that Chiefs-Eagles matchup from the suite of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell because he had a chance to watch with Jason’s family — including his two young daughters — in another suite.
A couple months later, at the NFL draft in Kansas City, the elder Kelce wanted to make sure there were no hard feelings with the commissioner. That he greatly appreciated the offer but the notion of experiencing the game with his granddaughters was too compelling.
“[Goodell] totally understood,” Kelce said. “He said he would have done the same thing.”
Jason’s wife, Kylie, was pregnant with the couple’s third daughter at that game, and even brought her obstetrician along with her in case there were any complications. The three young girls won’t be at this year’s Super Bowl, and Ed said he’s already missing them.
Making the trip with Ed this time is his girlfriend, Maureen Maguire, who has enjoyed getting to know Swift and had a lighthearted interaction with her shortly after meeting her.
Swift was posing for a picture with Ed, and nuzzled up to him.
“Hey,” Maguire warned, feigning jealousy, “that’s my boyfriend.”
Swift laughed and struck something closer to a father-daughter pose.
Kelce said he noticed from the start that his son’s girlfriend was smart and grounded, and a shrewd businesswoman. He referenced a commencement she gave at New York University’s graduation ceremony in 2022 at Yankee Stadium.
The singer-songwriter was presented an honorary doctorate in fine arts and, in a 20-minute speech, urged graduates not to fear being enthusiastic and to try hard when it comes to things they love. She reminded them they would make mistakes along the way.
“Listening to that, you get a much better sense of who this young woman is, as opposed to the social media blurbs and the gossip magazines,” Ed Kelce said. “That's all celebrity stuff. This is more the real Taylor.”
Kelce lives in a Philadelphia suburb and has always gotten the royal treatment in that city because Jason is so popular there. Likewise, the father gets a warm reception from Chiefs fans when they recognize him, which isn’t always because he largely stays in the background. Both sons are heavily involved in philanthropy in their respective communities.
For their father, the recognition has ramped up in recent months as the Taylor & Travis romance has gathered steam.
“A couple places you go to breakfast in Kansas City, and you don't get the check,” Kelce said. “Or somebody will buy you dinner. It gets to a point where you get a little uneasy. That's a nice gesture, but wait a minute. I've got a few bucks, I can buy my lunch.”
Mostly, he’s enjoying watching from the sidelines.
“My boys know where they’re from,” he said. “They know that all this notoriety, it is fleeting. Have fun while you’ve got it, but that doesn’t make you a better man. They fully understand that how you treat people is what’s important in this world. As long as that’s their mindset I’m a happy guy.”
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.