The recent re-release of her fifth studio album, a high-profile relationship with NFL star Travis Kelce, and the next leg of her world tour—just a few of the things keeping Taylor Swift in the headlines. Swift has been regarded as one of the most influential artists of all time and for good reason. Not only is she able to connect with fans through music, but she’s also brought a new genre of female viewers to football. To pay homage to her impact on the sport and its viewership, here are the pop star’s albums as NFL teams.
Taylor Swift: Pittsburgh Steelers
Her first self-titled album, Taylor Swift, also called debut by fans, is a perfect representation of the current Steelers. Not only are they from her home state of Pennsylvania, but the youthful vibe of the album is also applicable to some of the team's offensive players. Kenny Pickett, Najee Harris, and George Pickens—all drafted within the last 2 years—are just trying to find “A Place In This World,” as well as a place in the competitive AFC North. Though young, the Steelers can be very explosive, just as debut was for Swift’s career.
Fearless (Taylor’s Version): Carolina Panthers
Fearless TV is an album that represents the duality of hope and affliction, bitterness and awe. What team is more fitting than the Panthers? Despite having the first overall pick from the 2023 NFL Draft as their quarterback, they have the worst 5-year track history in the NFL right now with a 24-58 record. There is an aspect of hope in Fearless TV, though, just as there is hope in QB Bryce Young. The track “Change” tells a story of having the odds stacked against you but defying them… the Panthers are still waiting for the latter part to come true, but good things come to those who wait.
Photo courtesy of Jim Dedmon/USA Today Sports
Speak Now (Taylor’s Version): Houston Texans
The initial release of Speak Now had big shoes to fill after Fearless was so successful at the Grammys. Speak Now was an entirely self-written, no-feature album that topped charts and received great reviews—with nothing to show for it. Something the Houston Texans are quite familiar with. Quarterback C.J. Stroud beat the NFL rookie record for passing yards in a single game on November 5th along with pulling off a thrilling win. In a recent playoff picture by the NFL, though, the Texans wouldn’t make the list if the playoffs started today. This must be what it felt like for Swift to be robbed of any major awards for Speak Now. Luckily for Swift, Speak Now TV is eligible to receive awards. Luckily for Houston, the playoffs don’t start today. My hope is that both Swift and the Texans get a chance to prove they shouldn’t be shorted.
Red (Taylor’s Version): New England Patriots
The Patriots have been faced with a true test since the departure of long-time quarterback Tom Brady. Brady’s sheer athleticism paired with head coach Bill Belichick’s work ethic made for the ultimate football dynasty. Without Brady, though, the Pats have struggled. The parallel between the Patriots and Red TV comes down to emotion—Red TV depicts a heartbroken person, and New England depicts a shattered franchise. The Pats have been under scrutiny for their lacking offense, which is run by QB Mac Jones. Jones must lead his team on a “Treacherous” journey to a reborn, complete franchise. Despite the criticism, New England managed to pull off victories over the Bills and Jets, just as Red TV has many upbeat songs hidden in the ballads.
1989 (Taylor’s Version): Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs have the most popular offensive duo in the league right now with Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce. 1989 TV has some of Swift’s most popular songs. The initial release of the pop album was a huge turning point in Swift’s career, showing the media she can sing more than just country. Patrick Mahomes has allowed the Chiefs to have a revolutionary change, too. Before Mahomes, they had only two Super Bowl appearances. Since he joined the squad, they’ve been in three of the last four. 1989 won the Grammy for Album of the Year in 2016, and the Chiefs are reigning Super Bowl Champions. We’ve seen a lot of talk about referees favoring the Chiefs—Kansas City could build a castle of all the bricks thrown at them by NFL fans.
Photo courtesy of Bruce Kluckhohn/AP Photo
Reputation: Cincinnati Bengals
As back-to-back AFC North Champions, the Bengals were projected to have a better start to their season. Losing three of their first four games, critics were quick to slam the Bengals, who have been led by 2019 Heisman winner Joe Burrow. The Reputation era was Swift’s biggest media ploy to date. With “Taylor Swift is Over Party” being the most trending hashtag, she was able to rebrand herself through the insults and re-emerge from her social media hiatus. Cincinnati is doing something of the sort as well, winning the last four of their games despite the media scrutiny. Reputation is all about finding love in the madness, which the Bengals have become very successful in doing.
Lover: Philadelphia Eagles
Lover is the epitome of having a carefree, steady spirit while being in love, as the name suggests. This album has been Swift’s most politically charged with the song “The Man,” explaining how her portrayal in the media would be different if she were a man. To me, this fits no team other than the Eagles—the center and quarterback duo of Jason Kelce, a loving husband and father to three girls, and Jalen Hurts, led by an all-female management team, have proven themselves to be for the girls. Philly fans are also known to be some of the most loyal fans in the league, perfect for an album where Swift proclaims her allegiance and devotion to the one she loves.
Photo courtesy of Mitchell Leff/Getty Images
Folklore: New York Jets
Swift showcases her story-telling abilities with whimsical tales on her first indie album, folklore. Aaron Rodgers, who is spending his first season away from Green Bay as QB with the Jets, has made it abundantly clear that he is a folklore fan. Though he suffered a season-ending injury early this season, the album still applies to the team as a whole. So far this season, they’ve told quite a story: Rodgers endures an injury that benches him for the season, and his replacement, Zach Wilson, has thrown the same amount of interceptions as TD passes all season. Somehow, though, the Jets have still earned wins against some of the best teams in the league, like the Bills and the Eagles. The inexhaustible variety of the songs on folklore are a perfect depiction of the Jets this season.
Evermore: Cleveland Browns
The Browns have held their own recently in a very competitive AFC North. With their very first contest of the season being a win over the Bengals, they’ve had high hopes. Their record of 5-3, along with two other AFC North teams, has had many peaks and valleys—one of those valleys being a painful 28-3 loss to their rivals from Baltimore. This Sunday, though, they get a chance to change the narrative that’s been largely dominated by the Ravens. Evermore, an album with both mystical and melancholy tones, reflects how it feels to be a Browns fan. In the case of the Ravens, Cleveland usually stays “right where you left them.”
Photo courtesy of Michael Conroy/AP Photo
Midnights: Dallas Cowboys
Midnights, the most recent album released, tells tales of Swift’s sleepless nights over the years. There were sleepless nights filled with fun, and there were sleepless nights of sadness. The Dallas Cowboys represent both. In the last three weeks, quarterback Dak Prescott has had the highest QBR with a score of 120.7. On the contrary, the Cowboys managed to lose to the Cardinals—the losingest team of all time. The Cowboys have taken their fans on an emotional rollercoaster this season, exactly like Swift did with the release of Midnights. With odds in Dallas’ favor to make the playoffs despite some questionable losses, they embody the “Anti-Hero” spirit.