'Sunday Night Football' was 'Taylor-made' for Swifties, down to Carson Daly's pregame explainer. Why some say it was 'well-intentioned,' but 'misguided.'

Carson Daly hopped on before NBC Sunday Night Football to give an explainer about the game to Taylor Swift fans. (Courtesy: NBC)
Carson Daly hopped on before NBC's Sunday Night Football to give an explainer about the game to Taylor Swift fans. (Courtesy: NBC) (NBC)

Travis Kelce and Taylor Swift’s budding romance once again took center stage during an NFL game, as the singer cheered on the football star Sunday night while his Kansas City Chiefs faced off against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey.

NBC, home of Sunday Night Football, leaned right into the storyline. The networked hyped the game across social media with a promo titled “Taylor Made for Sunday Night” — which has since racked up 8 million views. And then producers recruited Voice host Carson Daly to explain football to Swift fans in a segment that aired right before kickoff.

“We got a call from our friends at NBC Sports asking us to put tonight’s story in language that the legions of Swifties would understand,” Daly announced.

As Swift’s “Welcome to New York” played in the background, Daly broke down the season to date for the Chiefs and Jets, peppering his primer with lyrical references to the singer’s greatest hits.

Were there Swifties tuning in who didn’t know much about football? Most assuredly, yes. But, while some were appreciative of the gesture, the general reaction to the segment seemed to stir a little, um, bad blood.

One of the most insulting things ever?

Julie DiCaro, interim editor in chief of the sports site Deadspin, seemed to capture the mood of many female viewers, writing on X (formerly Twitter) that she found the segment to be “one of the most insulting things I’ve ever seen.”

Sports journalist Melissa Jacobs, aka The Football Girl, reposted DiCaro’s tweet, adding, “It’s been going on all week, and gets more and more annoying. Women have made up almost half of NFL fans for a long time now.” Jacobs also called out NBC and NFL for being patronizing and sexist in their approach to female viewers.

According to a USA Today report, women and girls made up nearly half of the league's fans in 2021, which backs up the contention made by Jacobs and other critics.

Another sports writer, Emily Bicks, was simply incredulous.

“Many women are dedicated and knowledgeable NFL fans,” Val Martinez, the CEO of bettingladies.com, a sports-gambling information site run by a team of female writers, told Yahoo Entertainment.

“Carson Daly's pregame explainer for Swifties, while well-intentioned, was misguided. Fans of all backgrounds have varying levels of sports knowledge. Stereotyping women as uninterested or uninformed about sports is inaccurate and unfair.”

Or a refreshing, inclusive approach?

But not everyone was offended. Writer-producer Lauren Hunter Drago, who proclaims herself both a Chiefs fan and a Swiftie in her X bio, said she understood what NBC was trying to do and had no issues: “Do you know how rare it is for women to be catered to as a sports audience?”

Laura Hayes, a communications professional and self-professed “lifelong football fan,” also believed NBC’s intentions were well-placed.

“I don’t think Carson was assuming that Swifties are unfamiliar with the game of football; it wasn't like he was explaining the rules,” she told Yahoo Entertainment. “But, couldn’t they have found a woman to deliver this preview? Did anyone not stop to think that maybe this would come off as literal mansplaining? What I did like about it was that he put Taylor’s attendance in the context of what’s currently going on with the Chiefs, the Jets and some of their star players, which might not be common knowledge. My sister-in-law, a huge Swiftie, had never heard of Travis Kelce until last week! I think the NFL could be better at storytelling about who the players are, what the coaches are trying to do, and why the team is managed a certain way.”

Carson Daly hosting The Voice.
Carson Daly hosting The Voice. (NBC) (The Voice)

Jocelyn Disque, a public relations professional with Touchdown PR, said the explainer wasn’t intended for women who know the game of football already.

“As a woman, who previously worked in college athletics for eight-and-a-half years, I honestly laughed at the simplicity of his explanation. However, I do applaud the effort to provide a more inclusive environment for the new viewers,” she told Yahoo Entertainment.

“On their podcast, New Heights, Jason and Travis Kelce address questions from Swifties on social, and they are really as simple as “What is a down?” and “A tight end is a real position?’ While women who are NFL fans may have been put off, it’s important to consider you were not the target audience.”

In the end, the Taylor Effect is real

On Monday afternoon, NBC announced that game, won by the Chiefs 23-20, was the most-watched Sunday-night show since the Super Bowl. An average of 27 million tuned in, the network said, noting that “there were viewership increases among females across all groups,” with a total of 2 million additional females tuning in compared to a typical Sunday night game.

As Variety writer Elizabeth Wagmeister put it, “We all know why.”