Who is Harrison Butker? Chiefs kicker facing criticism after controversial sexist, anti-gay comments in speech

A Kansas City Chiefs star again made headlines this week — just not for anything football related — as three-time Super Bowl champion Harrison Butker created significant controversy drawing responses from the NFL and GLAAD after a recent commencement speech at Benedictine College in Kansas went viral.

The 20-minute speech, addressed to graduating students, took a firm stance against “poor leadership” in the United States, imploring practicing Catholics to oppose abortion and be more “countercultural” in a faith community that’s he said has become more concerned with appeasing the masses than speaking hard truth. Butker dedicated a portion of his speech to women, advocating for motherhood and arguing that they have been fed “diabolical lies” about trading the opportunity to become wives and mothers for career advancement. In doing so, he suggested “homemaker” is one of “the most important titles” a woman could have.

Butker also took aim at culture’s contemporary view of men: “Part of what plagues our society,” he said, “is this lie that has been told to you that men are not necessary in the home or in our communities. As men, we set the tone of the culture, and when that is absent, disorder, dysfunction and chaos set in. This absence of men in the home is what plays a large role in the violence we see all around the nation. Other countries do not have nearly the same absentee father rates as we find here in the U.S., and a correlation could be made in their drastically lower violence rates. … Be unapologetic in your masculinity, fighting against the cultural emasculation of men. Do hard things. Never settle for what is easy.”

The NFL issued a statement Wednesday saying Butker’s comments came in a speech of “his personal capacity” and do not represent the views of the league, arguing the NFL is “steadfast in our commitment to inclusion.” GLAAD also issued a statement, calling Butker’s speech “a clear miss” and “woefully out of step with Americans about Pride, LGBTQ people and women,” alluding to Butker’s own suggestion that Pride Month celebrates a “deadly sin.”

While the Chiefs have not provided any official comment on the matter, Butker has been ridiculed by some peers and lampooned by others, including the Los Angeles Chargers, which included him in the team’s 2024 schedule release video.

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Who is Butker, exactly? The 28-year-old veteran kicker has been with Kansas City since 2017. Originally a seventh-round draft pick of the Carolina Panthers, he was signed by the Chiefs off the Panthers practice squad early in his rookie season, quickly assuming a top role on special teams. He made 38 of 42 field goals (90.5%) during his first season, then logged his first Pro Bowl nod two years later while helping Kansas City win the Super Bowl in 2019. His 34 field goals that year led the NFL.

Signed to a five-year contract extension in 2019, when he also led the league in scoring, Butker hit a career-high 94.3% of his field goal attempts in 2023 while also going a perfect 11 for 11 in the playoffs to help bring the Chiefs another title.

The Chiefs’ franchise-record holder for kicker with the longest field goal (62 yards), as well as career field goal percentage (89.1), Butker is also one of the most accurate kickers in NFL history, ranking second behind only Baltimore Ravens star Justin Tucker in career field goal conversion rate after seven years at the professional level.

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