Need another sign that Travis Kelce and Taylor Swift are simply meant to be together or “Tayvis” or besties or whatever it is they are?
How about this: the Kansas City Chiefs star tight end just spent Week 5 dealing with both a gnarly-looking sprained ankle and a needless dig from Aaron Rodgers the exact same way.
By … shaking it off.
How’s that song go again?
“Players gonna play, play, play, play, play
“And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate (haters gonna hate)
“Baby, I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake
“I shake it off, I shake it off.”
Swift may sing those words when she resumes The Eras Tour but it’s Kelce who’s living them word for word right now in front of our eyes.
Kelce’s day — and maybe season — appeared to be over late in the second quarter of the Chiefs’ 27-20 win at Minnesota on Sunday when he went down awkwardly without being touched and limped off the field, slamming his helmet and heading down to the locker room.
Kelce didn’t return after halftime with his teammates but emerged from the tunnel just before the second-half kickoff. After standing on the Chiefs’ sideline for their first drive, he returned to action and played a key role in Kansas City’s fourth consecutive win.
Kelce corralled a trio of big catches from Patrick Mahomes on a touchdown drive that gave K.C. a 27-13 lead, including the 4-yard reception in the end zone after his leaping, 14-yard grab withstood a Minnesota challenge.
“Pretty amazing,” coach Andy Reid said of Kelce’s Willis Reed moment, which came 48 hours after Kelce shook off Rodgers’ anti-jab digs with equal aplomb.
Proving he doesn’t just have Swift’s attention nowadays, Kelce was the target of Rodgers, the notorious anti-vaxxer who is recovering from an Achilles tear in his Jets debut and took a dig at the Chiefs star tight end out of the blue last week, poking fun at Kelce’s promotion of flu and updated COVID-19 vaccines.
Rodgers said during his appearance on “The Pat McAfee Show” that the Jets’ 23-20 loss to Kansas City in Week 4 was a moral victory in “that we hung with the champs and that our defense played well, and Pat didn’t have a crazy game, and Mr. Pfizer, we kind of shut him down. He didn’t have his crazy impact game.”
Kelce did have a team-high six catches for 60 yards, but OK, he didn’t score.
Rodgers has long been outspoken about COVID-19 and the NFL’s protocols that were in place in 2020-21, which he called draconian and designed to shame players like himself who didn’t get the shot.
He acknowledged at the time that he possibly misled the public about his vaccination status and he missed a game, coincidentally against Kelce and the Chiefs, that season when he contracted the virus. The day after he was ruled out against Kansas City, he went on McAfee’s show and questioned the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines altogether.
A week later, he said on McAfee’s show and said he didn’t intend to fuel the divide over vaccines, adding, “I respect everybody’s opinion … I’m not gonna hate on anybody that has said things about me. I believe everybody’s entitled to their opinion. I’ll always believe that.
“I’m an athlete, I’m not an activist,” Rodgers added, explaining he didn’t want to champion any side of the simmering debate that had expanded from doctors’ offices to the political sphere. “I’m gonna get back to doing what I do best, and that’s playing ball.”
Without that competitive outlet two years later as he recovers from surgery, Rodgers decided to chime in on the COVID-19 issue again a couple of days after Kelce appeared in a new ad promoting the double dose of the flu and COVID-19 vaccines this fall, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The ad, which includes Kelce’s mother, Donna, is part of a partnership with Pfizer, the pharmaceutical company which developed a vaccine in response to the pandemic.
Asked Friday if he’d heard Rodgers’ remarks, Kelce handled it like a public relations pro.
“ I thought it was pretty good, ” Kelce said. “With this mustache right now I look like a guy named Mr. Pfizer. Who knew I’d get into the vax wars with Aaron Rodgers, man? Mr. Pfizer vs. the Johnson & Johnson family over there.”
Jets owner Woody Johnson is a descendent of one of three brothers who founded Johnson & Johnson, which also developed a vaccine for COVID-19.
Kelce said he’s an advocate of the vaccinations “because of keeping myself safe, keeping my family safe, the people in this building, so yeah I stand by it 1,000%.
“Fully comfortable with him calling me Mr. Pfizer.”
So, who landed the best blow over this anti-jab rumpus?
Probably Pfizer, which capitalized on the row by putting up billboards ahead of the Chiefs’ game in Minneapolis featuring a blue jersey with Kelce’s No. 87 and the name stitched across the back was …
Another billboard, this one from a radio station, also referenced Kelce if not by name:
“Beat Taylor’s boyfriend.”
Kelce got the better of the Vikings, however, just as he outpointed Rodgers.