For one moment, Travis Kelce was collapsing under the pressure of his new class of fame

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Is Travis Kelce out of his natural born mind?

That was the question on millions of lips when CBS cameras caught the Kansas City star screaming at Andy Reid and scrutinizing the Chiefs coach on the sidelines, to the point where the 65-year-old collapses. Kelce was upset about Reid’s decision to take him off the field in the second quarter of Sunday’s Super Bowl as the Chiefs drove toward the San Francisco 49ers’ goal line. When the Chiefs were poised to score, running back Isiah Pacheco coughed up the ball, and San Francisco preserved a 3-0 lead.

Reactions to Kelce’s outburst came quickly and strongly. “Hey, kids, don’t ever mix your 7th COVID booster with Bud Light,” conservative commentator Benny Johnson wrote on X, poking fun at Kelce’s endorsement relationship with the politically charged beer brand Pfizer and Anheuser-Busch. “What a shame this man is.”

Related: ‘We trust Pat’: Chiefs honor Super Bowl MVP Mahomes

“If that was me, I’d be kicked out of the league,” tweeted Philadelphia Eagles receiver AJ Brown, suggesting that racial bias may have been at play in the referees’ decision not to eject Kelce from the game.

Undoubtedly if Dallas’ CeeDee Lamb, Pittsburgh’s George Pickens or another Black receiver was unloading on his coach like that, the situation would have prevailed much differently. But Kelce’s flashy privilege as well as his position as the best at his position gives him great latitude; he does it passionateno too aggressive. CBS’s Tony Romo was quick to downplay the incident, calmly explaining that Kelce was just trying to get back into the game to help his team win — and, sure enough, he was back on the field for the first time another possession by Kansas City.

When the Chiefs beat the Niners 25-22 in overtime, the temper tantrum was water under the bridge. After the game Reid mocked Kelce for his free shot. “It was emotional today,” Reid said. “I have five kids, and I know how that goes. The part I love is that he loves to play the game, and he wants to help his team win.”

The two also made amends during the game, with Kelce hugging Reid on the sideline later in the first half. After the game, Kelce would say of his outburst: “I was just telling him how much I love him.” But he won’t be able to play coy when the sound comes from the NFL Films microphone he was wearing for the game.

It would be nice to hear Kelce publicly apologize to Reid for ignoring him so conspicuously. Instead, Kelce went on about their special relationship. “I have the best coach that has ever seen this game,” he said. “He’s one of the best male leaders I’ve ever seen in my life. I owe my entire career to that man and how to control my emotions.”

Still: one couldn’t help but feel that there was more to this than Kelce’s rising competitive streak. It’s a completely different league now, after all. This time last year, he was just a famous NFL player. Now, at least for a few weeks, it is no exaggeration to say that he is one of the most famous men in the world. Whereas in the past, he only considered his professional legacy while playing in Super Bowls, now he’s Taylor Swift’s boyfriend, and she flew halfway around the world to cheer him on , leading her followers and thousands more. eyes on the resulting game. Before Swift could settle into her luxury suite with an entourage that included Kelce’s brother Jason, actress Blake Lively and rapper Ice Spice, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell arrived to greet them. There was even (unfounded) speculation that Kelce might propose to Swift after the game. That’s a lot of pressure, enough to make Kelce crack up.

Related: Ending Romcom: Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce’s big night at the Super Bowl

In a pregame speech, Kelce moved his teammates when he said he wanted “this one more than I’ve ever wanted a Super Bowl in my life.” And while Kelce was certainly referring to the prospect of winning the NFL’s first championship in decades and cementing the Chiefs’ place among the league’s greats, there’s no doubt he wanted ride off into the sunset with the pop superstar. , too.

Kelce initially struggled against a Niners defense that was deployed to stop him, managing just one catch for a yard in the first half. Watching him blow up at Reid, it was hard not to remember David Beckham being kicked out by Diego Simeone in the 1998 World Cup when the pressure of his public relationship with Posh Spice reached a fever pitch.

But then Patrick Mahomes took over the game late in the second half and started connecting with Kelce for big plays. Two Kelce grabs late in the fourth quarter helped the Chiefs tie the game at 13-13. Facing third down and seven from the Niners 33 with 16 seconds left, Kelce threw a short pass for 22 yards, clocking a top speed of 19.68 mph – his fastest speed as a ball carrier over the past seven seasons, according to NFL Next Gen Stats.

That outburst, which forced overtime – and is striking for a player who, at 34 years old, is supposed to be physically declining – led to more social media chatter about how Swift managed it to do faster. and the NFL richer since he took an interest in it. On the Chiefs’ final drive, Mahomes found Kelce on a short gain that he extended for seven yards that set up the game-winning fourth down to Mecole Hardman a play later. Overall, Kelce finished with 93 yards on nine catches, moving him even further ahead of Jerry Rice on the all-time postseason receptions list.

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On the podium after the match, Kelce recreated his wrestling heel persona, belting out a closing speech, fueling his enthusiasm for a third straight title run and closing with rough renditions of Fight For Your Right and Viva Las Vegas – as if Usher hadn’t just crushed the halftime show. “The goal has always been to get three,” he said. “But we couldn’t come here without getting both and having the goal on our backs all year. The men we just won this thing with, family forever, child; I couldn’t be more proud of you.”

But it looked like Kelce was on the mend – even for Sin City – in light of recent events. In the end, it must have come as a relief that he was able to walk off the field in a shower of confetti with Swift on his arm – the pair singing You Belong With Me to each other at the Main Road after-party. But if the tide had turned the other way – if, say, the officials had decided to eject Kelce for his word to Reid – we’d say it was the tight end, not the Niners, who lost him.

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