In the past 15 years, reality television has stealthily infiltrated every aspect of our culture (see: the president-elect). Now it has shown up during the NFL playoffs.
Over playoff weekend, which sent the Pittsburgh Steelers, New England Patriots, Green Bay Packers and Atlanta Falcons to next week’s conference championship round, three top players in the news all have reality TV ties — and it affected them in one way or another. Here’s how:
1) The Aaron Rodgers family feud.
The Packers’ quarterback had a phenomenal performance, narrowly beating the Dallas Cowboys in a thrilling matchup. Another reason he was trending this weekend? A Sunday New York Times profile that centered on Rodgers’s rift with his family, a topic made very public last summer when his younger brother, Jordan, was a contestant on ABC’s “The Bachelorette.”
During the show — which Jordan won, becoming engaged to JoJo Fletcher — Jordan repeatedly talked about being estranged from Aaron. He never really explained why, but hinted at sibling rivalry, and that Aaron grew distant after he became a superstar. “It’s just kind of the way he’s chosen to do life,” Jordan said. “I chose to stay close with my family.” This was a central theme in Jordan’s story line; the show traveled to Jordan’s childhood home in Chico, Calif., where Aaron’s absence was the elephant in the room. “It pains both of us, like, not to have that relationship. We miss our brother,” Luke Rodgers, Jordan’s other sibling, told Fletcher.
The Times article delved further into the estrangement, as Aaron’s father confirmed that Aaron hasn’t spoken to his family in two years. “Fame can change things,” Ed Rodgers said.
So, not the ideal story to be floating around as your team makes a Super Bowl run. (“I just don’t think it’s appropriate talking about family stuff publicly,” Aaron told the Times.) The feud continues to gain tabloid traction, as People magazine noted Monday that Jordan and JoJo recently enjoyed a Rodgers family vacation — “sans Aaron.”
2) The Antonio Brown locker room video.
The Steelers’ wide receiver is known for flouting NFL guidelines, from his cleats to his creative end zone celebrations. But he really tested the boundaries on Sunday night after the team’s nail-biter victory over the Kansas City Chiefs, when Brown streamed a 17-minute Facebook Live video from an elated Steelers locker room. Not only is that strictly against NFL social media policy, but the video captured coach Mike Tomlin calling the New England Patriots (the team’s opponent this weekend) “a — holes.”
Brown could get fined, although as ESPN pointed out, this stunt is all part of Brown’s brand, which included a stint on “Dancing With the Stars” last spring. “The flair off the field matches his production on it.” Brown landed in fourth place on ABC’s dance competition, where he cemented his reputation as the guy who doesn’t take anything too seriously. (The “DWTS” costumes alone prove that.)
“He’s the celebrity on the team. He’s the ‘Dancing With The Stars’ guy,” Steelers safety Robert Golden said, explaining why Brown won’t see a big reaction from his teammates over the video. “He’s an entertainer. He entertains us and we enjoy it.”
3) The Travis Kelce meltdown.
The Chiefs tight end is no stranger to getting angry on the field — and he roughly shoved a Steelers player on Sunday, earning a 15-yard penalty. While that GIF made the rounds online, Kelce made headlines again when he slammed the referees after the game for a holding call that cost the Chiefs a crucial two points. (They lost 18 to 16.) “He shouldn’t even be able to work at f—— Foot Locker,” Kelce fumed of the ref.
Kelce goes off on refs pic.twitter.com/QJMLB82Nqb
— Arrowhead Pride (@ArrowheadPride) January 16, 2017
The reaction? Judging from social media and online comments, viewers tied his outbursts to his reality show persona, as Kelce starred in his own dating show on E! last year called “Catching Kelce,” in which 50 women competed to become his girlfriend. A lesson for all: If you appear on a ridiculous reality show, get ready to never live that down.
Keep it classy, Kelce! Like your reality show. https://t.co/VsdQwvg7G9
— Oz Banks (@ozbanks1) January 16, 2017
I've got an idea for a new reality show for Travis Kelce pic.twitter.com/TC78qKiydf
— Justin (@The_Best_Smart) January 16, 2017
It's bad enough Travis Kelce needs a reality show to find women, but has to resort to a temper tantrum when he's losing? #Salty
— Keith Jouganatos (@KeithJouganatos) January 16, 2017
When your Travis Kelce and you wake up today after dropping a pass and taking a stupid penalty…but you got material for your reality show pic.twitter.com/SNrL7sp9bV
— Scott Burke (@Scot557) January 16, 2017