Travis Kelce has been widely slammed for a “violent” act against his own coach during the first half of the Super Bowl.
The star Kansas City Chiefs tight end was obviously keen to impress as he played in front of girlfriend Taylor Swift, who watched the game from a suite full of surprising identities.
And he sniffed an opportunity to score the game’s first touchdown when Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes connected with wide receiver Mecole Hardman on a 52-yard pass that brought Kansas City within eight yards of the end zone during the second quarter.
Normally that’s prime Kelce territory as one of Mahomes’ favourite targets, but the veteran was stunned when Chiefs coach Andy Reid left him on the sidelines in favour of back-up Noah Gray, according to CBS.
As the Chiefs ran a running play which ended with Isiah Pacheco fumbling the ball and the 49ers regaining possession, Kelce exploded.
In the final game of a season where he also famously threw his helmet in frustration, Kelce rushed Reid and started screaming in his face.
He also knocked his coach off balance in an aggressive manner before being dragged away by a teammate.
It was a bad look for a man who has become one of the most recognisable athletes in America while dating pop star Swift.
“Travis Kelce looks like he just assaulted his coach,” Jack Poso tweeted.
“Unhinged lunatic Travis Kelce body checks his own head coach … what a jackass,” added another Twitter user.
“Kelce just lost his mind, running into Andy Reid on the sideline as he complained about the play call on Pacheco’s fumble,” Skip Bayless tweeted.
“Some coach would bench Kelce for that but this is the Super Bowl and he’s just too valuable.”
“What kind of man assaults his coach for taking him out for a play? wrote another. “I hope Taylor Swift breaks up with Travis Kelce after the game.”
Kelce has become a target for a section of American society after appearing in a commercial to promote Covid vaccine provider Pfizer.
His relationship with Swift, who endorsed US President Joe Biden ahead of the 2020 election, has also made him unpopular with some conservatives.
That likely played in to the severity of the reaction to his actions at the Super Bowl, but even the biggest Kelce fans would have found it hard to defend his behaviour.
With her Chiefs jacket slung over her shoulder and her gold necklace bearing Kelce’s number 87, music megastar Swift brought a bevy of celebrity friends to cheer her beau on at the Super Bowl in Las Vegas on Sunday.
The 34-year-old pop icon was the brightest in a galaxy of stars attending the game after making a trans-Pacific dash back to the United States, after performing in the latest leg of her money-spinning world tour in Tokyo.
Closed-circuit footage screened inside Allegiant Stadium showed Swift arriving, and she was comfortably ensconced in a luxury suite along with actor Blake Lively and Ice Spice — as well as Kelce’s parents Donna and Ed and brother Jason — by the time the NFL spectacular between the Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers kicked off.
Swift fans watching at home were treated to their first glimpse of her during pre-game festivities, when broadcaster CBS offered a cutaway shot of the singer and friends.
Swift’s relationship with charismatic Chiefs star Kelce has captivated the NFL and popular culture this season, bringing legions of new female fans to the sport and sending television ratings rocketing.
She has regularly appeared at Kansas City games to watch Kelce, and her appearance in Las Vegas is tipped to help set a television ratings record for the Super Bowl, already the biggest event on the US sporting calendar.
Kelce, meanwhile, says he is relishing the attention that his celebrity romance has brought, and joked this week that he feels under pressure to win after Swift’s record-breaking fourth Album of the Year award at last weekend’s Grammys.
“She’s unbelievable,” Kelce said of Swift. “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.”
TMZ reported that Kelce was shelling out more than $1 million for a luxury suite at Allegiant Stadium, the celebrity news website saying Swift’s mother, Andrea and father, Scott, along with Kelce’s parents Donna and Ed, were among the family members who would be accommodated.
– with AFP