Oct 22, 2023; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Recording artist Taylor Swift and Brittany Mahomes cheer during the second half between the Los Angeles Chargers and the Kansas City Chiefs at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Jim Rikhoff has been the NFL on CBS’ lead game producer since 2017, and will produce his third Super Bowl with Super Bowl LVIII Sunday. That’s a job that is usually fairly anonymous, but he faces a special challenge this year: how should the network handle Taylor Swift?

Swift will be at the game Sunday in Las Vegas, cheering on boyfriend Travis Kelce as the Kansas City Chiefs face the San Francisco 49ers.

Swift has been a visible presence at Chiefs games this season. Whenever Kelce has done something great — and he’s a perennial All-Pro, so he frequently does great things — the cameras cut to a shot of Swift in a luxury suite.

A reporter put the question directly to Rikhoff Tuesday: “How many shots do you plan of Taylor Swift?”

“That’s a big question, isn’t it?” Rikhoff said (via David Taub of GVWire.com). “You know what? We’ll have the same philosophy we’ve had all season. We’re all in line with our bosses, we all talk about it.

“We usually establish a shot of her organically to let people know she’s there and then if Travis Kelce does something well … and she has a great reaction, we don’t force it, we put it in so it’s organic.”

Those Swift reaction shots have polarized fans. The pop superstar’s millions of ardent followers love them, and tune in to catch a glimpse of her, one reason cited for increased NFL ratings this season.

But other fans are upset by what they see as a distraction. Even high-profile figures have spoken out about Swift’s presence. NBC analyst Tony Dungy said some fans are “disenchanted” by the attention she’s received.

Rikhoff now finds himself right in the middle of that controversy. It’s the biggest game of the year and Swift is one of the most popular and recognizable figures on Earth, with a vested interest in the outcome. She has to be part of the game coverage, but how big a part?

Many observers point out the Swift coverage issue is overblown. One Reddit user calculated that CBS cameras showed Swift for 44 seconds total during the AFC Championship, just slightly more time than the network devoted to showing crab cakes in one of those “setting the locale” B-roll shots.

By the way, many fans have actually looked for over/under odds to wager on how many times Swift will be shown by CBS during the Super Bowl.

Rikhoff said the number of times the network will show Swift has “got to fit into the texture of the game.” He thinks Swift’s presence at games has been good for the sport.

“Honestly I think it’s a good thing,” he said. “It has people coming and watching football who normally don’t watch football. A lot of women, lot of young girls watching it with their fathers, a lot of young kids are. And I think it’s a positive, it never takes away from the game.”

[David Taub, GVWire.com]

About Arthur Weinstein

Arthur spends his free time traveling around the U.S. to sporting events, state and national parks, and in search of great restaurants off the beaten path.