Advertisement

Chargers troll Chiefs’ Harrison Butker. He made this mess, and now he’s sitting in it

On a day the NFL publicized where each of its 32 teams will be playing football games from September into January, the Kansas City Chiefs’ kicker is still the butt of the joke.

With the credits rolling in their schedule-release video, the L.A. Chargers trolled Harrison Butker in a Sims-themed clip that placed him working in the kitchen — you know, the work he implied women should prioritize after they spent four years to secure a college degree.

Hours later, a social media account belonging to the city of Kansas City piled on, reminding in a since-deleted tweet that Butker lives in the suburbs, not KC.

This is Butker’s new norm.

And it’s well-earned.

The reaction over the past few days to Butker’s commencement speech at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas — and there has been plenty of it — provides a clear indication that this story isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

But it should provide Butker something else: an education, even as I’d imagine that’s being too idealistic.

You know the backdrop for this: In his 20-minute speech at Benedictine, Butker ditched his Chiefs uniform in favor of a graduation gown. He matched the hundreds of students staring back at him, donning the wardrobe representing a time of endless possibility.

A mere disguise for what followed.

Butker delivered a message not of possibility, but rather one of conformity.

He did not so much uplift those who share his beliefs as disparage those who do not.

That should prompt his education. Butker has the platform — and also certainly the right — to promote his religion and his own beliefs within that religion, same as the rest of us are free to draw our own conclusions. But why must that include belittling the human value of others?

A few minutes into his diatribe at Benedictine, Butker lamented those with Catholic faith who have been silenced. Yet a couple of minutes later, seemingly oblivious to the contrast of his previous thought, he attempted to lessen the worth of those unlike him.

To quiet them, you could say.

He could not have been any clearer about his view on women’s roles or the LGBTQ community. And, to be quite frank, it wasn’t as though we needed him to explain. He’s made these sorts of comments as central to his offseasons as minicamp.

This wasn’t a case of foot-in-mouth. It was a well-prepared speech. And I’d argue the backlash has not prompted him to regret one bit of what he said.

Butker referred to LGBTQ pride as a deadly sin. Women listening in the audience, rather than being rewarded with a diploma on graduation day, were made to listen as he promoted the role of homemaker — not as an acceptable choice, but as their duty as a husband’s servant.

“I want to speak directly to you briefly, because I think it is you — the women — who have had the most diabolical lies told to you,” Butker said. “How many of you are sitting here now, about to cross this stage and are thinking about all of the promotions and titles you are going to get in your career? Some of you may go on to lead successful careers in the world, but I would venture to guess the majority of you are most excited about your marriage and the children you will bring into this world.”

He later referred to “dangerous gender ideologies” before adding this: “The world around us says that we should keep our beliefs to ourselves whenever they go against the tyranny of diversity, equity and inclusion.”

But listen to his words. They do not provide a coat of armor for his interpretation of Catholicism. They shoot arrows at those who do not think like him.

He is playing offense, not defense.

Many athletes, and I certainly shouldn’t need to mention names here, have been vocal outside of their day jobs. Some of the response to Butker’s remarks includes comparisons to those athletes.

But let’s recognize the distinct contrast. Those voices fought for the marginalized people in our society. This one has his foot on those trying to stand up. It’s not an apples-to-apples comparison, and if you don’t see that, then nothing I say will convince you otherwise.

Butker is not required to use his platform in the way the rest of us might wish he would. He’s not required to use it in the way that, say, quarterback Patrick Mahomes did on the same day.

In a pre-recorded gala for the Time Magazine 100, Mahomes said, while staring at a TV camera, “I’d like to raise a glass for a new era in sports — an era when the women’s game is finally getting the attention it deserves.”

Then he embarked on a two-minute speech of his own, delivering a refreshing message about endless possibilities for women.

In a small Kansas town earlier that afternoon, before the Time Gala aired, Mahomes’ football-kicking teammate offered a message about women’s prescribed limitations.

And that’s what prompted the dig a member of the Chargers’ social media team took at Butker on Wednesday evening.

Perhaps someone with the keys to the city of Kansas City social media account was trying to one-up the Chargers with a since-deleted post: “Just a reminder that Harrison Butker lives ...” in a suburb rather than the city itself.

Another dig. (Mayor Quinton Lucas called it “clearly inappropriate” in a subsequent tweet).

Any number of comments from Butker’s 20-minute speech are worth more serious and public condemnation (and the Chiefs, who have declined comment, could choose one). I’ve picked out only a couple, each firmly rooted in the foundation of his remarks.

Butker’s beliefs derive from his faith, and his interpretation of that faith. That’s what causes him to speak out, he says. And only he is equipped to speak to that motivation.

Full disclosure: I’ve had this conversation with Butker in the past, and he’s been remarkably respectful when I’ve expressed a contrasting view. But that only amplifies the disappointment now.

Even if he can explain why he’d say such things, we should all be able to realize the ill effects of trivializing the lives of so many. Of considering one gender superior to another.

“As men, we set the tone of the culture,” he said.

Butker, over a 20-minute speech at Benedictine, set the tone of his own culture.

This is his new world. His duty, he’d probably say.

Just as it is our duty to recognize this:

It is not our differences in life that separate us. It is our willingness to accept those differences that separates us.