The KC Chiefs should fire Harrison Butker and hire someone who kicks like a girl | Opinion

For poetic justice after Harrison Butker’s Neanderthal outburst — and because the pipeline of talent is real — the Kansas City Chiefs’ next kicker should be a woman.

This is not a joke. It’s not unrealistic. And it would be good for business. Just ask the University of Manitoba how ticket sales were last year.

Millions of American parents who’ve had daughters in soccer over the last 30 years can attest to the fact that girls can kick. And in multiple anecdotal scenarios — injuries, COVID-19 disqualifications and so on — college football coaches have called soccer coaches for help and been told the best prospects were female. In 1997, soccer standout Liz Heaston kicked two extra points for Oregon’s Willamette University Bearcats. Ashley Martin broke the NCAA Division 1 barrier in 2001 as a placekicker for Florida’s Jacksonville State University. Katie Hnida broke the NCAA Division 1-A barrier in 2003, placekicking for the University of New Mexico. Sarah Fuller kicked for Vanderbilt against Missouri in November 2020, making viral waves on social media posts that linked to the nonprofit Play Like A Girl.

And then there’s Maya Turner, from Wayzata, Minnesota, who will be a sophomore this fall for Canada’s University of Manitoba. Her coach Brian Dobie, who’s been a head coach for 49 seasons, says “she’s the real deal.” Last season, as a redshirt freshman, she won one game with a field goal in double overtime, and another with a 48-yard field goal. “You give me 55 Maya Turners, and I’ll give you a championship at whatever sport you’re on,” said one of her coaches.

She may end up ready to kick in the NFL. Is she as good a kicker as Butker, who has the second best all-time field goal success ratio? Not yet. But she’s got three more years at the college level to keep getting better.

The Chiefs need to make a strategic call about Butker’s future with the team. If he could agree to shut his mouth, the current story might fade. There are, after all, plenty of athletes with backward cultural views, but they’re tolerated if they can mostly stick to sports cliches in interviews. If they’re superstars, they sometimes can keep yapping and get away with it.

Harrison Butker is not Patrick Mahomes. He’s a special teams player. That gives him less leverage with the team. They could trade him for a solid kicker, or they could make a statement by signing a woman to kick.

Liz Heaston, Ashley Martin, Katie Hnida, or Sarah Fuller might take a call. Maya Turner would likely give serious thought to an offer.

And the farm system for talent is rich. There are more than 300 players on the 14 teams in the National Women’s Soccer League. That’s more than 300 women who are professional ball kickers and don’t currently choose to be stay-at-home housewives. It would be delightful if one of them cost the Kansas City Chiefs kicker his job.

Peter Hamm is a former journalist and a public affairs professional for nonprofits, government agencies and political campaigns. He lives in the Washington, D.C. suburbs.