NFL Responds to Kansas City Chiefs Player Harrison Butker's Controversial Graduation Speech

The NFL commented on Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker's polarizing Benedictine College commencement speech, saying that, "His views are not those of the NFL as an organization."

By Sabba Rahbar May 15, 2024 11:12 PMTags
Watch: NFL Responds to Controversial Speech Made By Chiefs Player Harrison Butker

The NFL is making it clear that Harrison Butker does not speak for them.

The Kansas City Chiefs kicker faced criticism for a May 11 commencement speech he gave at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan., in which he touched on a number of topics from abortion to the role of women and LGBTQ+ rights.

Following the graduation address, the NFL clarified that Butker's comments do not represent the league as a whole.

"Harrison Butker gave a speech in his personal capacity," the NFL's senior vice president and chief diversity and inclusion officer Jonathan Beane said in a statement to People. "His views are not those of the NFL as an organization. The NFL is steadfast in our commitment to inclusion, which only makes our league stronger."

During his speech, Butker discussed various political and religious topics, and even quoted the song "Bejeweled" by Taylor Swift, the girlfriend of his teammate Travis Kelce.

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"Tragically, so many priests revolve much of their happiness from the adulation they receive from their parishioners. And in searching for this, they let their guard down and become overly familiar," he "said. "This undue familiarity will prove to be problematic every time. Because as my teammate's girlfriend says, 'familiarity breeds contempt.'"

Chris Unger/Getty Images

The 28-year-old also touched on the role he thinks women should play, saying that while many female graduates might "go on to lead successful careers in the world," he believes more of them are "most excited about your marriage and the children you will bring into this world." According to the athlete, his wife Isabelle Butker "would be the first to say her life truly started when she started living her vocation as a wife and as a mother."

Butker—who shares two children with Isabelle—additionally took aim at the LGBTQ+ community, saying that Pride Month is "the deadly sin sort of pride," and that the community promotes "dangerous gender ideologies."

He also added that while the COVID-19 pandemic "might've played a large role throughout your formative years, it is not unique."

"Bad policies and poor leadership have negatively impacted major life issues," he continued. "Things like abortion, IVF, surrogacy, euthanasia, as well as a growing support for degenerate cultural values in media all stem from the pervasiveness of disorder."

E! News reached out to reps for Swift, Butker and the Chiefs for comment but has yet to hear back.

Keep reading to see all of the celebs who have weighed in on the controversy.

Maren Morris

The "Bones" singer reacted to Harrison's speech with a reference to a social media trend in which women say whether they'd rather encounter a bear or a man while alone in the woods. 

Under a video of the NFL player's speech, Maren wrote on her Instagram Story, "I choose the bear." 

Maria Shriver

"What point was Harrison Butker really trying to make to women in his graduation speech about their present day life choices?" Maria wrote on X, formerly Twitter, May 16. "Did he really want them, aka us, to believe that our lives truly only begin when we lean into the vocation of wife and mother?"

"Look, everyone has the right to free speech in our country," she continued. "That's the benefit of living in a democracy. But those of us who are women and who have a voice have the right to disagree with Butker."

Patricia Heaton

"I don't understand why everybody's knickers in a twist," the Everybody Loves Raymond actor shared in a video. "He gave a commencement speech. The audience applauded twice during the speech and gave him a standing ovation at the end. So clearly they enjoyed what he was saying. The guy is espousing his own opinions and Catholic doctrine."

"So what? It's his opnion, he can have one," she continued. "He's not a monster for stating what he believes."

Whoopi Goldberg

"I like when people say what they need to say—he's at a Catholic College, he's a staunch Catholic," she said during the May 16 episode of The View. "These are his beliefs and he's welcome to him. I don't have to believe them, right? I don't have to accept them. The ladies that were sitting in that audience do not have to accept them."

"I'm okay with him saying whatever he says and the women who are sitting there if they take his advice, good for them, they'll be happy," she added. "If they don't go for them, they will be happy a different way. That's my attitude." 

Patrick Mahomes

"There's certain things that he said that I don't necessarily agree with," the Kansas City Chiefs quarterback explained during a May 22 press conference, "but I understand the person that he is and he is trying to do whatever he can to lead people in the right direction."

"And that might not be the same values as I have, but at the same time, I'm going to judge him by the character that he shows every single day," he said. "That's a great person and we'll continue to move along and try to help build each other up to make ourselves better every single day."

Andy Reid

"Everybody's got their own opinion," the Kansas City Chiefs coach said during a May 22 press conference. "And that's what's so great about this country, you could share those things, and you work through it."

"I didn't talk to him about this, didn’t think we’d need to," he continued. "We’re a microcosm of life here, everybody’s from different areas, different religions, different races. And so we all get along, we all respect each other's opinions, and not necessarily do we go by those, but we respect everybody to have a voice. It's a great thing about America. And we're just like I said a microcosm of that and my wish that everybody could kind of follow that."

“I don’t think he was speaking ill of women," he added. "He has his opinions, and we all respect that."

Bill Maher

While emphasizing "how much this guy is not like me,” the TV host did say OF Harrison's speech during Real Time, "I don’t see what the big crime is, I really don’t.”

He continued, "Like he’s saying some of you may go on to successful careers, but a lot of you are excited about this other way that people, everybody used to be and now can. Can’t that just be a choice too?"

Tavia and Gracie Hunt

The wife and daughter of the Kansas City Chiefs CEO, Clark Hunt, spoke out following the team kicker's controversial statements. 

"I've always encouraged my daughters to be highly educated and chase their dreams," Tavia, who also shares daughter Ava Hunt, 18, and son Knobel Hunt, 20, with Clark, wrote on Instagram, alongside throwback pics of herself with her kids. "I want them to know that they can do whatever they want (that honors God). But I also want them to know that I believe finding a spouse who loves and honors you as or before himself and raising a family together is one of the greatest blessings this world has to offer." 

Gracie, 25, then told Fox News' Fox & Friends, "I've had the most incredible mom who had the ability to stay home and be with us as kids growing up. And I understand that there are many women out there who can't make that decision. But for me and my life, I know it was really formative and in shaping me and my siblings into who we are."

Roger Goodell

"Listen, we have over 3,000 players. We have executives around the league. They have a diversity of opinions and thoughts just like America does," the NFL commissioner said. "I think that's something that we treasure and that's part of, I think, ultimately what makes us as a society better."

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