1. Fox got a gift Sunday. The network’s national 4:25 p.m. game was completely unwatchable, with the Chiefs blowing out the Bears, 41–10.
But as you may have heard, the game had a story line going for it that had nothing to do with what was taking place on the field.
Fox’s Kevin Burkhardt, along with Greg Olsen and Erin Andrews, had the task of calling the awful game and keeping the world updated on every Taylor Swift move. I spoke to Burkahrdt on Monday about what it was like to call Sunday’s newsworthy event.
Sports Illustrated: When did you find out Taylor Swift was at the game?
Kevin Burkhardt: We found out a couple of hours before the game that she was coming. We really didn’t discuss anything. We all love Travis Kelce so we all had talked about, ‘Man, it would be awesome if it happened. It would be so cool.’ I don’t think any of us really necessarily thought she was going to come to our game, but then a couple of hours before the game we’re told, and it was like, ‘Holy s---, this is gonna be awesome.’ And then the next part of that is you don’t know where she’s gonna be or if she’s gonna be visible. The coolest part was that she was front and center, cheering the entire game, sitting with Kelce’s mom. It was awesome. We just had fun with it. How do you not? It was just so cool.
SI: Did you have to be cognizant of not overdoing the Taylor Swift coverage?
KB: I think we played it out naturally. Obviously, we set it up early and showed it and showed him coming on the field and she was there and her reaction, and I think we went to it maybe one other time. And then in the second half, we couldn’t do it enough. He scored the touchdown, but that’s all I wanted to do was Taylor Swift. The game sucked. So I was all for having some fun with it. But that’s Z [producer Richie Zyontz] and [associate director Rich] Russo having a feel. Let’s put it this way. The game wasn’t in the balance very long, but we never had a discussion, “Oh, how many times are we gonna show Taylor Swift?’ We just kind of did it. That game was over probably before the half, so then it was like, “Let’s have some fun.” I thought we had fun and didn’t overdo it. At the same time, too, it’s like, just let her watch the game without a camera in her face the entire time.
SI: Can you explain what the buzz was like in the stadium whenever everyone realized she was in the suite?
KB: Arrowhead is such an awesome place to watch a game, so there’s always a buzz there. So it’s kind of hard to tell. Obviously, people knew. People were turning around and pointing. Obviously the players knew on the field. So that part was very much obvious. The players knowing and Erin asked Patrick [Mahomes] after the game, it was so obvious he was trying to get Kelce a touchdown, and we talked about it and then he scored. It was just so awesome. So that part was evident, but with the fans it was hard because that place is always rocking and crazy.
"I heard she was in the house... so I knew I had to get the ball to Travis." @PatrickMahomes joined @ErinAndrews after the @Chiefs blow out win with Taylor Swift in the building 💪 #ChiefsKingdom pic.twitter.com/skZ98xVRCO— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) September 24, 2023
SI: When is your next Chiefs game?
KB: Right now, I don’t think we have another one, but I really only know the next couple of weeks where we’re going. Other than a couple of signature games, like San Fran and Philly later in the year, I don’t know. I hope we get them again. I love going there.
SI: What is your favorite Taylor Swift song?
KB: I always jam to “22.” I turn that up loud.
I think my line on Sunday was like, ‘The romance America needs,’ and it’s funny because we all love it. We all love Kelce. He’s the greatest dude ever. It’s fun. Also, I think, like, ‘O.K., Taylor Swift is here,’ but if she was there and you saw her on camera and she was hard to see … but she was jumping up and down watching the game going crazy. It was awesome. That was the best part about it. It wasn’t just that she was there. It was her reactions.
2. Sure, eventually, Travis Kelce will be the subject of a song that does not paint him in a good light, but for now, his relationship with Swift is paying off.
Travis Kelce has had a busy 24 hours:— Joe Pompliano (@JoePompliano) September 25, 2023
• 7 catches for 69 yards and a TD
• Gained 300,000+ social media followers
• +400% increase in merchandise sales
• Top 5 selling jersey in the NFL
That's the Taylor Swift effect 🤯 pic.twitter.com/s8rT7kzJTL
3. If you like awkward radio, you’ll enjoy this. On New York’s WFAN, afternoon drive host Tiki Barber and former host who is now retired but still appears on the station Joe Benigno had a heated moment Monday, and it was all the Jets’ fault. Benigno accused Barber, a former Giants star, of hating the Jets and not watching the Jets game Sunday. This did not sit well with Barber.
Good NY radio fight here. Joe Beningno accuses Tiki Barber of hating the Jets, not watching the Jets. Barber shuts off his mic, says that’s bullshit and leaves the studio. pic.twitter.com/5JR4XWmPVg— Jimmy Traina (@JimmyTraina) September 25, 2023
4. Oregon has put out a cinematic recap of its 42–6 beatdown of Colorado on Saturday. Given how Buffaloes players were chirping before the game, I give Ducks coach Dan Lanning credit for not running up the score.
5. The implementation of the pitch clock in Major League Baseball is easily a top-five sports change of all time.
To date during the 2023 season, only nine games of nine innings have eclipsed the three-hour and 30-minute mark. pic.twitter.com/SglqiCehKd— MLB Communications (@MLB_PR) September 25, 2023
6. This latest SI Media With Jimmy Traina podcast features a conversation with Kevin Clark, who now hosts This Is Football for ESPN and Omaha Productions.
Clark talks about why he recently made the move from The Ringer to ESPN, whether he will continue to write and how sports media has changed since COVID-19.
Other topics covered with Clark include the possible Travis Kelce–Taylor Swift romance, changes he’d like to see networks make for NFL coverage, Bill Belichick’s personality, what we know about the NFL season and much more.
Following Clark, Sal Licata from WFAN radio and SNY TV in New York joins me for our weekly “Traina Thoughts” segment. This week, we discuss Week 2 of NFL Sunday Ticket on YouTube, ESPN’s curious assignments for Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit, Sean McVay’s decision to kick a meaningless field goal and upset a lot of bettors and HBO’s canceling Winning Time. Plus, I make an announcement regarding Apple reviews.
You can also watch SI Media With Jimmy Traina on YouTube.
7. RANDOM VIDEO OF THE DAY: A report dropped Monday that a reboot of The Office is in the works. Unless the entire cast returns, I'm not down with this idea. You don't mess with perfection.