Taylor Swift. Yes, I did it a few meters from her. And then… But no, I have to start again. I have to admit: until about a year ago, she was practically unknown to me, or rather, I didn't care. Yes, I really enjoyed listening to her song “You Belong with Me” a few years ago. But then I lost sight and hearing of her. Until a few months ago she met this soccer star: Travis Kelce.
Homework: Taylor Swift autographs
I am a big football fan, although not of your loved one's team, who plays for the Kansas City Chiefs and who will play the football league final that night against the San Francisco 49ers at the Las Vegas stadium. But whatever. This is supposed to be about Taylor. My host sister, who I visited before the Super Bowl, lives in Wyoming, in the country, far from Taylor. But she and her daughter are big Swift fans. Then they gave me two comic book biographies of Taylor and a black pen. I'm supposed to sign autographs on her books. At the Super Bowl. By Taylor. “Okay,” I said. “I can do it easily.”
An older man in a gray t-shirt is quite relaxed. He guards an escalator beneath the Super Bowl stadium's VIP bleachers. A colleague and I (we are traveling together) show him our press credentials and he waves us through. Great, that was easy, so it's not a completely closed area after all. There are just under two hours until the game. We knew Taylor Swift was already in the stadium at that time. The American media announced it immediately.
The stars frolic in the VIP area
Then we both go up the escalator and we are already in the VIP area. First impression: an elegant but not excessively luxurious area. In the center there is a bar, here too the hard-to-drink Bud Light beer (in a can) costs $18.99, as do the not-so-well-known people below. There are a few people around the bar, one or two of whom I think: Well, he might be important or at least pretty famous. The problem: Unfortunately, I'm not a celebrity expert. But I immediately recognize the soccer stars who hang out here.
Former defensive star Julius Peppers arrives, for example. He wears a light beige suit, a symbol of his Hall of Fame membership. And yes, Shaquille O'Neal walks out of VIP suite number 2016. A huge man, former basketball megastar. He hugs a very old woman in a wheelchair and quickly disappears behind the black door of her box.
But where is Taylor now? Just ask? Sure why not. Then I go to a woman who has many credentials hanging around her neck. She looks like she might know. “What box is Taylor Swift in?” She points to one, number E2020. I ask, “Is she there?” She nods. And now I see it too: it's the only box with four security guards standing guard in front of it. Okay, I guess, let's see, maybe it will come out.
Suddenly a Broncos legend speaks to me
First we ordered a beer and a cocktail (price: 21.99 euros) and sat at one of the white tables at the bar. Behind us sits Christian McCaffrey's family. He is a running back for the San Francisco 49ers and is currently preparing for his last down appearance on the field. His family, his father Ed and two of his other children, drink bottled mineral water and stuff their mouths with giant shrimp and rice taken from a sad box like the ones you get at any fast food restaurant. And I think this is supposed to be the VIP area.
We walk down the hallway again. Suddenly an older man speaks to me. “Hey, cool sweater,” he tells me. I wear one of my favorite teams, the Denver Broncos. I recognize him, it's Broncos legend Randy Gradishar, who was elected to the Sports Hall of Fame a few days ago. I congratulate him. He thanks.
That reminds me of the real reason I'm here, Taylor. But although from time to time someone leaves the other boxes or at least someone enters, the door to the E2020 box always remains closed.
We give up: Taylor is unreachable.
A few meters away there is a woman with a cardboard sign in her hand. She announces her participation in a game of chance. For every $200 bet, you supposedly get $400 back. For the VIPs here, that's not even change. That's probably why she's practically alone. We make room for a cart with a mountain of huge shrimp on top. Are these for Taylor? No, unfortunately not. Ugh, the autograph won't work.
We turn around again and only see some men with sunglasses and women with very short skirts. It must be well known. Or at least know someone who knows someone who is almost known. We went down the stairs into the world of normal people. The game is about to begin. I think I might see Taylor Swift on one of the big screens later.