LAS VEGAS — There are no official NFL records on this. No NextGen stats. No Pro Football Focus Premium pages to keep the tally.
And so the determination for the largest media throng to ever assemble around a single athlete at Super Bowl Media Day — or “Opening Night” as the league now dubs it — will fall to this enthusiastic veteran of the proceedings.
For my money, it was Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning before Super Bowl 50. Or maybe it was the mass of cameras and microphones around Tom Brady or Bill Belichick for one of those New England Super Bowls — perhaps when Deflategate was freshly humming.
Or it could be the crowd to hear Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch repeat “I’m just here so I won’t get fined.” That was a good one.
Whatever it was, it isn’t the record anymore.
Congrats, Travis Kelce.
As records go, “Biggest Super Bowl Media Contingent” might not be the equal of, say, most consecutive seasons of 1,000 receiving yards by a tight end (seven), but it is something. And it was in full effect here Monday.
Take a first-ballot Hall of Fame tight end, with retirement speculation, who just happens to date a famed recording star who won multiple Grammys on Sunday night and has four consecutive sellout shows in Tokyo the rest of the week?
That’s a cocktail of media crazy even Marshawn couldn’t duplicate.
Some media organizations set up front-row spots in front of Kelce’s podium a full two hours before his arrival. A half hour prior it was six rows deep. By the time he showed up, maybe 20 rows, fanned out in a half moon, which was too far to ever hear what he was saying.
In an event that courts excess, this was excessive. Wonderfully so.
“This is the most people I’ve ever seen on Super Bowl Opening Night,” Kelce said as he scanned the crowd. He’s been here three times previously, winning two of those Super Bowls and losing one.
Of course, he was just a key player then, not Taylor Swift’s boyfriend.
As such, the early questions were almost exclusively about Swift.
His thoughts on the attention Taylor has brought to the NFL:
“She’s definitely brought a lot of new fans to the game,” he said, later adding, “It’s been fun to get the Swifties into Chiefs Kingdom.”
On her Grammy haul from Sunday, which he said he mostly watched on his phone when the team plane landed:
“She’s unbelievable. She’s rewriting the history books. I told her I need to hold up my end of the bargain and bring home some hardware, too.”
On Taylor’s new album that drops in April … has he heard it?
"I have heard some of it, yes, and it is unbelievable. I can't wait for her to shake up the world when it finally drops."
What’s it like?
“I can’t give you any of that, I leave that to her.” (Smart.)
On what Taylor’s taught him that helps on the field:
“She has an amazing love for life, so just checking my ego at the door and bringing the right energy.”
— Jori Epstein (@JoriEpstein) February 5, 2024
On Vegas weddings:
“I have been to a Vegas wedding. Vegas weddings are out of control. Insane. I don’t know if I’ll ever have a Vegas wedding.”
On and on it went. Taylor this. Taylor that. And Kelce seemed to love every bit of it. This is not a man who will be rattled by the attention — “Nothing can put any more pressure on me than I put on myself.”
The media outlets ran the gamut. Celebrity sites. Old school newspapers. "Jimmy Kimmel Live" was there. "Access Hollywood" tossed him a friendship bracelet. Carrot Top showed up to ask a question.
“Carrot Top!” Kelce shouted. “What’s up, man? I’m living the dream.”
Maybe others would be overwhelmed by the attention, let alone the off-the-wall questions, but not Kelce. The relationship has sent him into what is often an uncomfortable level of fame, but he looks no worse for wear. He kept repeating he was solely focused on the game.
The throng kept coming. When one reporter or camera left, it felt like another showed up.
He spoke to a bigger group than Patrick Mahomes, begging the question: Is Kelce now the most famous player in this game? (Maybe?)
Is he the most famous non-quarterback in NFL history? (Well, there’s still O.J.)
At one point, a television reporter tried a different angle.
“I’m not going to ask you about your girl.”
“That’ll be a first,” Kelce laughed.