Aaron Rodgers saga, Travis Kelce-Taylor Swift romance and more: Top 10 NFL moments that fueled our fandom in 2023

NFL/betting writer

Damar Hamlin’s recovery

One of the scariest moments in NFL history became an uplifting story to many. Very casual fans who couldn’t name more than 10 NFL players, and two are still Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, suddenly knew who Damar Hamlin was.

Hamlin, a Buffalo Bills safety, had to be resuscitated on the field after he collapsed during a game. From the attention to first responders who saved his life, the entire league wearing “Love for Damar” shirts the next week, Bills returner Nyheim Hines returning the opening kickoff in Buffalo’s first game back (“This is storybook!” CBS’ Jim Nantz yelled on the broadcast), to Hamlin himself giving an emotional speech at NFL Honors and then making it back to play this season, a horrific situation turned into a series of uplifting moments that any fan could relate to.

Deuce Vaughn‘s dad tells his son he’s been drafted by Dallas

It’s not often that a sixth-round pick in the NFL Draft causes a celebration and then happy tears all around. The Dallas Cowboys drafted Kansas State running back Deuce Vaughn, and it was special because Deuce’s dad Chris Vaughn is the team’s assistant director of college scouting. Vaughn cried while everyone celebrated him, then the team let him make the call to his son.

“You want to come to work with me next week?” Chris told Deuce on the phone as his voice cracked.

Even Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was shedding a tear after that.

Chiefs beat Eagles in a thrilling Super Bowl

Super Bowl LVII was the most-watched ever, and it was the kind of game that reminded everyone of how great the NFL can be.

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts was terrific, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes wrote an incredible story playing through a bad ankle injury, the Eagles tied it in the fourth quarter and then Mahomes led a drive to win it. That drive had some controversy on a third down holding call against Eagles cornerback James Bradberry that had everyone debating for days, and it ended with a last-second field goal and another Super Bowl moment for Mahomes and the Chiefs.

Dan Snyder sells the Commanders

Plenty of fanbases are stuck with bad owners. No fanbase had it worse the past couple decades than the Washington Commanders. Between endless off-field embarrassments and no on-field success, many Washington fans gave up rooting for the once-proud franchise.

The nightmare ended this year. Snyder sold the team, to the delight of not just Commanders fans but anyone who’d grown tired of Snyder’s act. The sale didn’t bring immediate results on the field this season, but at least there were brighter days ahead.

Aaron Rodgers leaves Green Bay and joins Jets

Perhaps Green Bay Packers fans had grown tired of the annual speculation of whether Rodgers would be back. But there still had to be some sadness when Rodgers’ time in Green Bay finally did end with a trade to the New York Jets. Rodgers spent 18 years with the Packers, 15 years as the starting QB, and he gave Packers fans some of the best quarterback play the NFL has ever seen. While the story of Rodgers’ career with Green Bay will always include that the team didn’t make more than one Super Bowl, Packers fans will never forget that Super Bowl XLV win.

The only downside to rooting for a truly great player is inevitably letting go.

We all looked forward to Aaron Rodgers' debut with the Jets. Unfortunately, it lasted all of four snaps, which made us feel a different emotion. (Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images)

We all looked forward to Aaron Rodgers’ debut with the Jets. Unfortunately, it lasted all of four snaps, which made us feel a different emotion. (Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images)

Jets fans, meanwhile, have lived a jinxed existence. Even when the team landed Aaron Rodgers and hope was as high as it has been in years, it didn’t last long. On the fourth play of the regular-season opener, Rodgers tore his Achilles tendon. An entire offseason of excitement basically vanished in just four plays. And it wasn’t just Jets fans. All NFL fans were robbed of seeing a legend try to write a great final chapter with a new team.But at some point, Jets fans in particular have to wonder what they did to anger the football gods.

Tom Brady retires, for good

Tom Brady had a pretty quiet retirement, at least compared to the first (brief) one. But this allowed NFL fans to reflect on Brady’s career, which is unmatched in NFL history. Brady wasn’t the most popular player, due to New England Patriots controversies and the Patriots winning constantly over two decades, but it’s hard to deny that Brady offered some of the most electrifying moments the NFL has seen this century. Brady’s greatness made the game better, even if you hated him.

Travis Kelce dates some singer

Here’s what NFL fans in their bubble found out this season: The NFL is popular, but not as popular as Taylor Swift. When Kelce started dating megastar Swift, it became the story of the early part of the season. Some NFL fans might have grown tired of the constant camera shots of Swift in her suite rooting on Kelce, but it was fun to see the worlds of Swift’s enormous fanbase and NFL fans collide. Plenty of Swifties were NFL fans before the Kelce-Swift relationship, but it was still pretty cool to see a brand new fan group learning about and enjoying football.

Taylor Swift (left) has been a mainstay at Chiefs games this season because of her boyfriend Travis Kelce. (Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images)
Taylor Swift (left) has been a mainstay at Chiefs games this season because of her boyfriend Travis Kelce. (Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images)

‘Tommy Cutlets’ briefly becomes a folk hero

Tommy DeVito was a no-name backup New York Giants quarterback to start the season, and he looked bad in his first two NFL games. Then he suddenly started playing better, and the entire story culminated in a Linsanity-esque Monday night win over the Green Bay Packers. With MetLife Stadium doing the Italian hands celebration for every big play and everyone at home enjoying watching DeVito’s parents and agent celebrate in the stands, DeVito played well and led the Giants to a last-second win.

DeVito was benched in Monday’s loss to the Eagles, and his future is uncertain. But the Giants are having a rough season, and DeVito’s out-of-nowhere story brought plenty of unexpected joy.

Eagles perfect the ‘Brotherly Shove’

The last time the quarterback sneak got this much attention, it was Bart Starr in the Ice Bowl. The Philadelphia Eagles started running an odd formation last season, with Jalen Hurts taking a snap with multiple teammates behind him. At the snap, Hurts and the Eagles would surge forward. Nobody could stop it. Other teams tried to replicate it, and didn’t have the Eagles’ level of success.

There was plenty of debate over the play and whether it should be legal, while the Eagles fans just kept reminding everyone that nobody else is doing it as well as them. Who would have thought a QB sneak would fire everyone up?

C.J. Stroud becomes a star

Rookies are supposed to struggle in the NFL. Rookie quarterbacks usually look lost for a while. C.J. Stroud looked like he had the NFL game figured out before he even took a regular-season snap.

The Houston Texans hit a grand slam with the second pick of the draft. Stroud set multiple rookie records as he started the season fast and helped the Texans into playoff contention. It was a boon for Texans fans and a reminder to all fans of teams in hopeless situations: With one great draft pick, the entire franchise can start trending upward right away.

Read the original Yahoo Sports article.