Harrison Butker responds to backlash over commencement speech and says he has no regrets

Friday's comments were the first time the Kansas City Chiefs kicker had commented publicly since his recent commencement speech sparked backlash.

Harrison Butker
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Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker has no regrets about expressing his beliefs in a recent commencement speech and he said he has received support as well as “a shocking level of hate” from others.

Butker spoke Friday night at the Regina Caeli Academy Courage Under Fire Gala in Nashville, Tennessee.

He made his first public comments since his controversial recent commencement speech at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, where he said most women receiving degrees were probably more excited about getting married and having kids; argued some Catholic leaders were “pushing dangerous gender ideologies onto the youth of America;” referred to a “deadly sin sort of pride that has a month dedicated to it” in an oblique reference to Pride month; and took aim at President Joe Biden’s policies, including his condemnation of the Supreme Court’s reversal of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.

“It is now, over the past few days, my beliefs or what people think I believe have been the focus of countless discussions around the globe,” Butker said Friday. “At the outset, many people expressed a shocking level of hate. But as the days went on, even those who disagreed with my viewpoints shared their support for my freedom of religion.”

Butker said he understands being criticized for his performance on the field. The 28-year-old said he values his religion more than football.

"In my seven years in the NFL, I've become familiar with the positive and negative comments, but the majority of them revolve around my performance on the field," Butker said. "But as to be expected, the more I've talked about what I value most, which is my Catholic faith, the more polarizing I have become. It's a decision I've consciously made and one I do not regret at all."

"But I can't help but tremble at the thought of the courage many saints have shown in their lives," the Super Bowl winner continued. "Would I be so bold if the repercussion was what Daniel faced in being fed to lions? In reality, any courage I've shown will lead to some small suffering, and it will lead to some people maybe never liking me. But that could be God's will. If I constantly remind myself of the hardships the saints went through, especially the martyrs and their persecution, it makes it all seem not so bad."

"My hope is that tonight's theme and our mission will embolden others, that many more will be unapologetic of their Catholic faith and never be afraid to speak out for truth, even when it goes against the loudest voices," the NFL kicker added.

The hosts of “The View” are weighing in on the controversial comments made by Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker during a commencement address at Benedictine College on May 11. Co-host Whoopi Goldberg partially defended the football pro on air, saying, “These are his beliefs and he’s welcome to them.” In his speech, Butker insinuated to female students that they would be most fulfilled by being wives and mothers and not by successful careers. He also made negative comments about the LGBTQ community.

The NFL has distanced itself from Butker's comments. The league said the comments and “views are not those of the NFL as an organization.”

Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes said the three-time Super Bowl winner is entitled to his beliefs, even though he doesn’t always agree with him.

Speaking about Butker on his "New Heights” podcast, Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce said he cherishes Butker as a teammate.

“When it comes down to his views and what he said at (the) commencement speech, those are his,” Kelce said. “I can’t say I agree with the majority of it or just about any of it outside of just him loving his family and his kids. And I don’t think that I should judge him by his views, especially his religious views, of how to go about life, that's just not who I am.”

Kelce does the podcast with his brother Jason, who recently retired after an outstanding career with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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