Travis Kelce Covers WSJ. Magazine’s December/January Issue!

Posted on November 20, 2023


WSJ. MAGAZINE’s Dec/Jan cover star is Kansas City Chiefs tight end, and man-of-the-moment Travis Kelce! A few months ago he was merely football famous. Now Travis Kelce is scrutinized by Swifties everywhere—and he’s ready to tell his story.
In the interview, Kelce shares what makes him tick, from his love of the game and the Team Kelce of family, teammates, coaches and lifelong friends that keep him grounded (and for whom he’s so grateful, he cries). He also reveals his very real concerns about retirement and what his future after football may be. But, it’s his unguarded comments about his new relationship with Taylor Swift that will capture the hearts of Swifties everywhere.






Kelce on his career with The Chiefs: He’s not ducking landlords these days. Still, he’s grossly underpaid. His $14 million salary, though near the top among tight ends, is half what the league’s star receivers make, and Kelce often functions as a receiver.

Nothing to be done, he says flatly. The Chiefs know, he says, that he would play for free. They know he loves his city, his quarterback. “Unfortunately, in this business, things gotta get ugly, they gotta get unpleasant [if you want more money], and I’m a pleasant son of a buck.”

Thank goodness for endorsements. At this point, says his co-manager Aaron Eanes, “the NFL is just his side hustle.”

Kelce on retirement: Kelce confesses that he thinks about it nonstop, “more than anyone could ever imagine.” In the same spirit, perhaps, he keeps his own counsel about his round-the-clock physical anguish. “That’s the only thing I’ve never really been open about,” he says, “the discomfort. The pain. The lingering injuries—the 10 surgeries I’ve had that I still feel every single surgery to this day.”

Donna Kelce on her true feelings about Taylor Swift: Donna Kelce still berates herself for how she handled a question about Taylor on the Today show. Trying not to sound too enthusiastic, she came off under-whelmed. Kelce, not wanting his mom to feel bad, immediately phoned her and assured her that she did a super job—adding that her green eyeglasses looked great.

These days, however, with the relationship progressing, Donna feels more at liberty. “I can tell you this,” she says, beaming. “He’s happier than I’ve seen him in a long time…. God bless him, he shot for the stars!”

Kelce on how his relationship with Taylor Swift began: “I don’t know if I want to get into all of it,” he says, and then he gets into it, because fountain.

“There were definitely people she knew that knew who I was, in her corner [who said]: Yo! Did you know he was coming? I had somebody playing Cupid.” He wasn’t aware at the time, however; the revelation only came later, after he looked down at his phone and got the shock of a lifetime. “She told me exactly what was going on and how I got lucky enough to get her to reach out.”

He lets slip that some of his early helpers were part of the Swift family tree. “She’ll probably hate me for saying this, but…when she came to Arrowhead, they gave her the big locker room as a dressing room, and her little cousins were taking pictures…in front of my locker.”

Kelce on being uncharacteristically guarded with the media when it came to Swift: “That was the biggest thing to me: make sure I don’t say anything that would push Taylor away.”

Kelce on their similarities: Kelce seems freer, too. He doesn’t need to be asked about Taylor; he mentions her unreservedly, lavishes praise on her, calls her “hilarious,” “a genius,” notes that they share compatible worldviews, especially when it comes to family and work. “Everybody knows I’m a family guy,” he says. “Her team is her family. Her family does a lot of stuff in terms of the tour, the marketing, being around, so I think she has a lot of those values as well, which is right up my alley.”

Kelce on his growing admiration for Swift: More often than not, he says, it was a Swiftian beat, a melody that captivated him. (“She writes catchy jingles.”) But lately he’s all about those lyrics; he’s scrutinized the breakup stuff. What a miracle, he says, the way Swift can turn life into poetry. “I’ve never been a man of words. Being around her, seeing how smart Taylor is, has been f—ing mind-blowing. I’m learning every day.”

Kelce on learning from Swift how to gracefully handle added attention: “Obviously I’ve never dated anyone with that kind of aura about them…. I’ve never dealt with it,” Kelce says. “But at the same time, I’m not running away from any of it…. The scrutiny she gets, how much she has a magnifying glass on her, every single day, paparazzi outside her house, outside every restaurant she goes to, after every flight she gets off, and she’s just living, enjoying life. When she acts like that I better not be the one acting all strange.”


This article is featured in WSJ. Magazine’s December/January 2024 Issue available Saturday, December 9th. 


[Photo Credit: Gregory Harris for WSJ. Magazine]

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