Harrison Butker does ‘not regret’ controversial commencement speech

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (WDAF) — Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker has made his first public comments since his controversial Benedictine College commencement speech.

He doubled down on his statements Friday when he spoke at the “Courage Under Fire” gala in Nashville, held by the Catholic hybrid homeschooling organization Regina Caeli Academy.

“If it wasn’t clear that the timeless Catholic values are hated by many, it is now,” Butker said. “Over the past few days, my beliefs, or what people think I believe, have been the focus of countless discussions around the globe. 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.”

“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,” he continued.

Parents of PGA Tour golfer Grayson Murray release statement: ‘He rests peacefully now’

Butker explained in his speech that glorifying God and being outspoken about his faith is more important than seeking approval from others.

“It is not people but Jesus Christ who I am trying to please.”

Butker compared himself to the Biblical story of Daniel in the lion’s den when speaking about the backlash that he saw from his speech but also mentioned he has received support from “all walks of life”.

Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker speaks to the media during NFL football Super Bowl 58 opening night Monday, Feb. 5, 2024, in Las Vegas. Butker railed against Pride month along with President Biden’s leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic and his stance on abortion during a commencement address at Benedictine College last weekend. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)

“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,” he said.

“In the end, being courageous starts with the small things. Being disliked and mischaracterized by some is nothing compared to finding yourself in a lion’s den,” Butker said, ending his speech. He also thanked Benedictine College president Steve Minnis “for his courage and his friendship”.

Butker is known for his conservative Catholic beliefs and thoroughly expressed those views during his commencement speech, drawing the ire of many. He expressed his disdain on several topics during the 20-minute address, calling out the LGBTQ+ community, women’s roles in society, abortion and denouncing President Joe Biden.

Andy Reid, Patrick Mahomes, Chris Jones, and Travis Kelce all shared their thoughts on Butker’s comments.

Jones was the first to speak out, showing support for his kicker on the social media platform, X. Jones tweeted out “I love you @buttkicker7! My brotha,” after a petition was created calling for him to be released. That petition now has over 226,000 signatures.

Mahomes did not agree with what Butker said but still backed his teammate and showed support.

“I judge him by the character that he shows every single day, and that’s a good person as someone who cares about the people around him, cares about his family, wants to make a good impact in society,” Mahomes said. “We’re not always going to agree and there’s certain things that he said that I don’t necessarily agree with, but I understand the person that he is and he’s trying to do whatever he can to lead people in the right direction.”

Kelce expressed similar sentiments to Mahomes on his New Heights podcast with his brother Jason.

“He’s treated friends and family that I’ve introduced to him with nothing but respect and kindness. And that’s how he treats everyone,” Kelce said. “When it comes down to his views and what he said at Saint Benedict’s commencement speech, those are his. 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.”

Court filings reveal new details in lawsuit against HGTV star’s companies

The NFL also sent a statement from senior vice president and chief diversity and inclusion officer Jonathan Beane disagreeing with Butker’s comments from the speech: “Harrison Butker gave a speech in his personal capacity. 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.”

On Friday, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell also responded to what Butker said: “We have over 3,000 players. We have executives around the league. They have diversity of opinions and thoughts just like America does. That’s something we treasure.”

Reid reiterated Goodell’s comments.

“I didn’t talk to him about this, didn’t think we needed to,” Reid said. “We’re a microcosm of life, everybody from different areas, different religions, different races. We all get along, we all respect each other’s opinions and not necessarily do we go by those but, you know, we respect everybody to have a voice. It’s a great thing about America, man.”

He also said no women in the Chiefs organization have spoken to him about the speech and that Butker is still expected to make the trip to the White House on May 31.

Copyright 2024 Nexstar Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to Queen City News.