Much like a deity, it’s not everyday you get to sit down and have an in-depth conversation with an NFL superfan. What do you think of when you hear the word ‘superfan’? To Ty “X-Factor” Rowton, it means dressing up in your gameday attire and sharing the passion and excitement of the sport of football. Ty is one of the most prominent superfans of our era, being inducted into the Hall Of Fame and setting world records for decibels. How many world records has the average fan set? These men and women all but transcend football fandom, and I had the pleasure of interviewing Ty Rowton, also known as the infamous Kansas City Chiefs superfan ‘X-Factor’, to learn all about it.
The name ‘X-Factor’ has an interesting story behind it. It all started when Andre Rising came to the Chiefs in 1997, he said he was going to “be like Spider-man and web every football”. So Ty started out calling himself Spider-man. Soon, he realized that he couldn’t name himself after current Chiefs players, as they would eventually leave the team. Ty said that one day out of the blue (while in the shower), the name ‘X-Factor’ popped into his head, and he never looked back. To him, the name represents the external factors during a game, such as the fans. In essence, fans are one of the most important factors during a sporting event. X-Factor is the human embodiment of the fans and what they bring to the table. Ty’s goal is not to achieve personal recognition or anything of that sort, at the end of the day he wants to represent the people in the stands, the true 12th man on the field, Chiefs fans or not. He told us about a conversation with Dante Hall and how he once asked Ty if he could be the X-Factor on the field. Ty believes that X-Factor is a perfect representation of what fans can do in the stands, especially at Arrowhead.
X-Factor recalled how he became a Chiefs fan at a very young age, watching his first game at three months old. It wasn’t until he was older that he began crafting his fantastic outfit. He started in the 90s by spray painting his body and wearing a wig, just to get noticed on T.V. He realized he had a major platform when he once got an entire section of fans to rise up during a game, watching how the crowd listened to him.
The word ‘superfan’ may be tossed around these days but, X-Factor has a special meaning for it. He believes that you do not have to dress up and all to be a superfan, but rather share the passion and excitement of football with every other fan. You may notice that X-Factor wears a cheesehead shaped hat with his name printed on the side, but he made sure to let me know that the hat is an Arrowhead for the Chiefs and not a Cheesehead for the Pack. He showed me the inside, explaining how it was originally built to carry beer and food at games, before it soon developed into his own hat. He eventually refined his outfit into the one it is today. Some of his proudest moments come when he sees kids dressed up like him, especially on Halloween.
Ty feels truly blessed that he has been able to develop this special platform, telling me, “I love when people come up to me and tell me how they have seen me, or they are at Arrowhead for the first time.” He enjoys meeting people all the time at games as he shares their excitement as though it is his first time also. X is the second longest tenured superfan of the Chiefs, and because of his seniority he has been able to mentor other superfans along their way, like helping with costumes and nicknames.
Ty says X-Factor is beloved in the Chiefs community, which helped him to set the crowd noise Guiness World Record and get inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame Yes, the actual Hall of Fame. He has been on Man Vs. Food, Sports Illustrated, local T.V. and in local newspapers. X detailed how he travels to road games just to hang with his superfan buddies, and calls it a true blessing that they share the same passion. As someone who is intrigued by superfans myself, finding out there was a brotherhood of superfans was incredible.
X has been to every single NFL stadium except for Atlanta and SoFi; he has literally gone to other countries to support his Chiefs. He loves going to different cities, whether it be for the 20th time or the 1st, just to see what they have to offer. Obviously, X’s favorite stadium is Arrowhead, but he holds Oakland near and dear to his heart. He says he loves the “black hole” and the vibes that the city gives off. “If you show Raider Nation respect, Raider Nation will respect you,” he told me.
We have all experienced those games that just have a different type of energy, and X-Factor is no different. Although he has seen his own team in the Super Bowl, he says the night games and home playoff games are always crazy, and the AFC Championships he has been to “cannot be put into words”. Though when asked what the energy is like at the Super Bowl, he said that it is not as crazy as Arrowhead since it’s not all Chiefs fans in attendance. The experience in the city itself is wild, because there are people from all over the country and world, coming to see that one game. After the Chiefs won the Super Bowl in Miami, he went to the team hotel to celebrate with the team, and recalled the ‘weight lifted off our shoulders’ vibe.
X’s best memory is the record-breaking decibel games, which he orchestrated. The Chiefs squared off against the Patriots in the decibel game, and X recalled how the Patriots were so far behind they benched ‘Marsha’ Brady’, as X calls him. X-Factor also talked kindly of Chiefs running back Priest Holmes, with whom he is close friends. Holmes is the person that got X into the charity game, which is apparently just one of the perks of being a superfan.
X-Factor was in the news this year after a week five fight against fellow Chiefs superfan ‘Red Xtreme’. X-Factor recalled the night as a blur, as he said he had too much to drink. Before the game, Red Xtreme came up to X and delivered one blow, which knocked X out. He crashed in a local hotel with his friend, without realizing how viral the fight video had become. X said “it was like a soap opera” with how fans were spreading rumors and throwing shade. At first, he was trying to get his story out, but realized he was fighting a losing battle. He said that he and people around him know the kind of person he is, and that is all that matters.
Unfortunately, X was permanently banned from Arrowhead Stadium after the fight. He said it was a shock because he was so close with the owners, employees, and players from the Chiefs. He acknowledges that everyone makes mistakes and that there is always room for forgiveness. He plans to send a letter to the Chiefs this off-season apologizing and asking for another chance. He does not know what the Chiefs will say, but if it doesn’t work out, then it doesn’t work out.
Ty is the CEO of a charity called ‘KCSuperFans’, which is involved with a number of other charities. His pride now is charity work, and it has really changed his outlook on what football can do for people and their families.
One thing is clear from my conversation with Ty: he is an extremely positive human, and strives to be a positive role model for everyone that he comes across. Through all of his experiences, whether in football or not, he has learned from all his mistakes and come out a better person. He’ll root for the Chiefs until his last day, because after all, he is a superfan.
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