Travis Kelce channels girlfriend Taylor Swift to explain Steelers-Kenny Pickett breakup

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Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce channeled the work of his pop star girlfriend Taylor Swift in explaining the situation that ultimately led to former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett being traded to the team’s Pennsylvania rival after they signed nine-time Pro Bowler Russell Wilson to a one-year deal. 

Pickett, a first-round pick out of the University of Pittsburgh in 2022, was traded just hours after news broke that the Steelers had reached a deal with the former Denver Broncos quarterback. 

kenny pickett pitt

Kenny Pickett #8 of the Pittsburgh Panthers reacts after throwing a 39 yard touchdown pass in the second quarter during the game against the Clemson Tigers at Heinz Field on October 23, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Justin Berl/Getty Images)

The signing of Wilson and Pickett’s subsequent trade followed weeks of the Steelers voicing their support of Pickett. 


During Wednesday’s episode of the “New Heights” podcast, Travis and Jason Kelce addressed the seemingly inharmonious exit. 

“He just can’t leave the state of Pennsylvania. The guy f—ing just loves PA, man,” Travis said. 

“I said that the quarterback is the one piece that feels like Pittsburgh is missing,” Jason added. “So I don’t know why it didn’t work out for Kenny in Pittsburgh, but we’ve seen this before. Sometimes it’s the fit, the system, whatever it is, he gets to have a fresh start now and come over to Philadelphia.” 

Kenny Pickett fans

Kenny Pickett #8 of the Pittsburgh Steelers shakes hands with fans following a 32-25 win over the Seattle Seahawks during a preseason game at Acrisure Stadium on August 13, 2022 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Justin Berl/Getty Images)


“Kenny and the Steelers — their relationship ended in a little ‘Bad Blood,” Travis sang, in reference to Swift’s hit single, “because Kenny is saying he preferred to move on.” 

Travis seemed to point to Pickett’s recent comments this week when he said he felt it was time to move on. 

“I just thought it was time,” Pickett said Monday. “It just felt like it was time from the things that transpired. I wanted to get a chance to go somewhere else and continue to grow my career.”

Kenny Pickett running

Kenny Pickett #8 of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks on from the field at Acrisure Stadium on September 18, 2023 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Cooper Neill/Getty Images)


Pickett will serve as a backup to Jalen Hurts. The Steelers received a third-round pick in this year’s draft and two seventh-round choices in 2025 for Pickett and Pittsburgh’s fourth-round pick this year.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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