STATESIDE: This week all eyes turn to NFL, Swift and Trump








IT was probably inevitable.

The three most important topics in America have now become intertwined as the country’s fourth most important day approaches. That would be the Super Bowl, which probably now ranks just behind Christmas, the Fourth of July and Thanksgiving.

These three vitally important topics are, in no particular order, the National Football League, Taylor Swift and Donald Trump.

The first two are foremost in everyone’s minds with the big game to be played Sunday in Las Vegas. But, of course, Trump and the media believe he must be everywhere all the time, so we’ll get to him too.

First things first. Can Taylor manage to fit into her Eras tour schedule a side trip to see boyfriend Jason Kelce play in Super Bowl 58? She is now in the Far East. Here’s how it can happen.

Fourteen-time Grammy award winner Swift will perform four shows at the Tokyo Dome in Japan on consecutive nights starting last night and running through Saturday before she was originally scheduled to jet to Australia for shows starting next Friday.

According to numerous insider accounts, doors will open at 4:00 p.m. local time for her last Tokyo concert Saturday, with the show starting at 6:00 p.m. She typically opens her set about two hours after the scheduled start time. However, no opening acts have been announced for her Tokyo tour dates, meaning she could strut on stage at 6:00 p.m.

Her concerts last roughly three and a half hours, so she would finish dazzling her Japanese audience around 9:30 p.m., Tokyo time.

If she leaves promptly from the closest airport to the Tokyo Dome, she could be airborne enroute to see her sweetie in Las Vegas an hour later. That’s 10:30 p.m. in Tokyo.

Swift reportedly has two multimillion-dollar private jets — a Dassault Falcon 7X and a Dassault Falcon 900 — that were predominantly used during the U.S. leg of her Eras Tour.

The 7X model has a longer range of 5,906 nautical miles, so Taylor figures to use that one. The distance between Tokyo’s Haneda Airport and Las Vegas International Airport, located near Allegiant Stadium where the Super Bowl will be played, is 4,821 nautical miles.

Experts in the industry told reporters that the trip from Haneda Airport to Harry Reid International Airport should take about 10 1/2 hours on her Falcon 7X.

That means Swift could leave Japan at 10:30 p.m and, because of the time zone changes and crossing the International Date Line in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, she could reasonably expect to arrive around 4:00 p.m. in Las Vegas on Saturday -- a full day before the game.

So no worries. Taylor Swift will be there. And she’ll have plenty of time before she needs to jet back to Australia for her next concert a week from tomorrow. She can party hearty after the Chiefs defend their current NFL title by beating San Francisco.

Her boyfriend Travis Kelce, by the way, is probably the best of a really strong group of stars currently playing tight end in the NFL. If the Chiefs win as is now widely expected on Sunday, Kelce will have just beaten his two closest rivals for the title of best current tight end – George Kittle of the 49ers and Mark Andrews of the Ravens.

San Francisco opened as a slight betting favourite after the conference championship games nearly two weeks ago, but oddsmakers quickly corrected that. And while Kansas City’s win in Baltimore was a gritty war of attrition that seems to have discouraged bettors initially, the Chiefs and quarterback Patrick Mahomes nevertheless won the game.

Mahomes was the tenth player selected in the 2017 draft. The Chiefs traded up with Buffalo to pick him. (The Bills chose their QB, Josh Allen, the following year). Among those players selected before Mahomes were Cleveland Browns stud pass rusher Myles Garrett, Tampa Bay’s Super Bowl winning running back Leonard Fournette and 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey, who will oppose Mahomes on Sunday and is a rival for the league’s MVP title.

So there were some other future Hall of Famers in that draft. The only QB picked before Mahomes was Mitchell Trubisky, now a disappointing back-up for his third NFL team.

Mahomes’ draft position is much-discussed this week because his opposing quarterback, Brock Purdy of the 49ers, was the very last choice (No. 262) in the 2022 draft out of Iowa State.

The NFL’s decision to leave two weeks between its conference championship games and the Super Bowl allows the hype to build to a fever pitch by gametime. That means there’s plenty of time for reporters to pick at almost every detail of the competing teams and their stars.

Purdy has been heavily scrutinized, but has held up well. He is a player who is not supremely talented but manages to fit himself very well into the complex game plans of his wizard-like head coach Kyle Shanahan. The 49ers have been a dominant team ever since Purdy took over as their QB.

But it would be a real surprise if San Francisco prevailed on Sunday. The Chiefs relied much more on their defense this year than previously, and Mahomes, Kelce and Company are still potent on offence. Unless Kansas City makes too many costly errors, they should win and move Mahomes into a fourth-place tie for all-time Super Bowl wins.

He would then be tied with one current broadcaster (Troy Aikman), just behind another one (Terry Bradshaw), with all of them trailing yet a third one coming next year (Tom Brady). Only Joe Montana is missing from this list, and he’s no stranger to TV ads. He is seen almost as often as a television pitchman as is Mahomes himself.

Speaking of television, it’s reasonable to wonder which of the US president’s annual State of the Union address (coming soon in early March) or NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s annual State of the NFL address (earlier this week) is of more significance to Americans.

Goodell, who has made his NFL owners and himself very much wealthier in his 21 years as the league’s CEO (and 24 more as its counsel), smartly credited Taylor Swift with broadening his league’s already worldwide appeal.

“People are talking about the (Super Bowl) who weren’t interested yesterday,” he said. “She is welcome. Taylor is obviously a dynamo. Everything she touches, there are many people following.”

Among those now following more closely are the wolves and hyenas of Trump world. That’s because Taylor Swift has revealed liberal proclivities and publicly supported Joe Biden four years ago.

“I always have and always will cast my vote based on which candidate will protect and fight for the human rights I believe we all deserve in this country,” she has written on social media. “I believe that any form of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender is WRONG.”

She added, “I believe that the systemic racism we still see in this country towards people of colour is terrifying, sickening and prevalent.”

The world’s greatest pop star can also rock the political world, and she has done it in ways that scare a Republican Party that in recent decades has devoted itself to disenfranchising its putative opposing voters. So when Taylor urged her fans on Instagram to register to vote last September, the media reported a surge of 35,000 registrations in response.

Time magazine made her Person of the Year this past December. The economic impact of her Eras tour on its host cities is phenomenal. Some are comparing her to Michael Jackson in terms of her cultural and financial impact worldwide.

The GOP is worried, and they should be. The party’s numerous surrogates and informal spokespersons have reacted in recent weeks.

“Does Taylor realize the guy that they want her to endorse (Biden) is a kind of stumbling, bumbling mess?” asked Sean Hannity smugly on his nightly Fox TV show.

Jesse Watters, the much less significant replacement for departed Fox ratings champion Tucker Carlson, suggested that now-billionaire Swift is actually a deep-state Defense Department asset engaging in psychological warfare.

Watters repeated a GOP trope by linking Swift’s liberal social and political views with her boyfriend Travis Kelce’s widely broadcast Pfizer endorsement of COVID vaccinations.

Trump has also piled on. But he might have met his match this time.


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