Before Travis Kelce and Taylor Swift connected, 50 women competed for his love in the short-lived series 'Catching Kelce'

Courtesy of E!
Courtesy of E! (E!)

Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce upstaged the entire National Football League on Sunday.

Kelce, the star tight end with the Kansas City Chiefs, had invited the superstar singer-songwriter to a game at Arrowhead Stadium to see who would have the stadium “more lit” — and she took him up on the offer.

As she joined Kelce's mother, Donna, in a suite at the Chiefs game against the Chicago, the 33-year-old Swift got nearly as much airtime as the teams on the fields, with Fox cameras repeatedly cutting to her cheering on Kelce and the home team, especially when he scored a touchdown.

Swift made her way down to the locker room after the game and joined the team. She left the stadium riding shotgun in Kelce's convertible, off to a celebratory dinner.

But before Kelce embraced his inner Swiftie, he had a very different way of trying to get dates. In 2016, the football star headlined a short-lived, Bachelor-style dating show on E! called Catching Kelce. Don’t recall that? It’s OK, the show only lasted one season after barely registering in the ratings. But we have long memories and here’s our play-by-play of how it went down:

Kelce takes the field, Bachelor-style

The show opened with 50 women suitors. One by one, each woman, showcasing their talents and personalities, would approach Kelce on a field to introduce themselves. As the show blurb put it, via IMDb, Kelce is known for catching passes but is "quite the catch himself":

In the dating competition series Catching Kelce, 50 women from 50 states vie to win the heart of the pro football player. With help from his famous friends and family, Kelce attempts to find the woman who will become his perfect teammate.

After their brief introductions, 30 prospects were chosen to join Kelce in the “mansion” in Los Angeles.

The show then maintained a similar structure to The Bachelor. Kelce and the contestants would go on activity-style group dates and one on ones, and he would slowly eliminate women at the end of each episode.

Unsurprisingly, he asked his older brother, Jason Kelce, the Philadelphia Eagles star center who is married with kids (and the subject of a new Prime documentary), for advice as Travis worked his way through the show.

Unlike The Bachelor, however, this show did not have the highly produced drama (or production value, for that matter), nor was he handing out roses. And there was no pressure for a teary engagement at the end.

How it ended

At the end of the 12 episodes, Kelce selected Maya Benberry, from Kentucky, and danced over to her as if he just scored a touchdown.

As a woman of color, Benberry talked about the challenges of being in her first interracial relationship with him. She also said there were issues with people on social media making racially charged comments and that she had to be careful in public because of his stature. They later broke up and she did her own version of The Women Tell All via YouTube.

In an interview with the Daily Mail this week, Benberry weighed in on "Swelce." "Taylor seems like such a fun girl with a beautiful spirit, so I wish her the best of luck, but I wouldn't be a girls' girl if I didn't advise her to be smart!" Benberry said. "I'm sure by now she has mastered the ability to see who is there for her — and who is just using her."

She added: "Only time will tell, but like the saying always goes: 'Once a cheater, always a cheater.'"

Life after Catching Kelce

After he and Benberry split, Kelce began dating sports reporter Kayla Nicole on and off for five years. Kelce talked about the relationship earlier this year on The Pivot Podcast and declared he was on "the free market right now."

BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 12: Travis Kelce attends the 2023 Vanity Fair Oscar Party Hosted By Radhika Jones at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on March 12, 2023 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Cindy Ord/VF23/Getty Images for Vanity Fair)
Kelce has become a popular draw in Hollywood, here seen attending the 2023 Vanity Fair Oscar Party in Beverly Hills. (Cindy Ord/VF23/Getty Images for Vanity Fair) (Cindy Ord/VF23 via Getty Images)

While Catching Kelce failed to catch on, Kelce has since won two Super Bowls with the Chiefs. He hosts the New Heights podcast with Jason, which is among the top-rated sports podcasts on Spotify.

It was on an episdoe of New Heights when Travis first announced that he was "disappointed" he couldn't give Swift a friendship bracelet with his phone number on it during her Eras tour stop in Kansas City. Not long after then, the dating rumors took off.

Travis also has significant presence in Kelce, the Prime Video documentary focusing on his brother’s life around football and family.

NFL viewers might have noticed Travis Kelce in a new Pfizer commercial supporting both the COVID-19 and flu vaccines, in which he receives both. Appearing in it has caused quite a stir.

He has also done commercials with Sleep Number, Direct TV and McDonalds, and currently co-stars in a State Farm spot with his Chiefs teammate Patrick Mahomes.

The tight end even landed a coveted role guest hosting Saturday Night Live in March, with Jason making a cameo.

In his monologue, Kelce played a brief clip of Catching Kelce and delivered a perfect post-mortem:

"It was kind of like The Bachelor, except instead of roses I handed out footballs. And instead of watching, people did not," he said. "That show is owned by NBC Universal, so it should be on Peacock. But Peacock said, 'Nah, we good.'"

The entire season of Catching Kelce is currently available to stream on Peacock Prime Video or Apple TV for $12.99.