Harrison Butker says he has no regrets after controversial commencement speech

In his first public comments since a divisive commencement speech that sparked accusations of sexism and homophobia, Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker said he has no regrets about expressing his views.

“As to be expected, the more I’ve talked about what I value most — which is my Catholic faith — the more polarizing I’ve become. It’s a decision I’ve consciously made and one I do not regret at all,” Butker said Friday evening in an address at a gala in Nashville, Tennessee.

The “Courage Under Fire Gala” was hosted by the Regina Caeli Academy, which offers hybrid homes-chooling for Catholic families. Butker is on the academy’s board of directors. The Daily Wire, a conservative news site, was first to publish a video of Butker’s speech on Friday.

In his address, Butker added, “If it wasn’t clear that the timeless Catholic values are hated by many, it is now.”

The comments appeared to be a response to controversy arising out of a commencement address Butker gave earlier this month at Benedictine College, a Catholic liberal arts school in Kansas. In part of the speech that quickly went viral, Butker said being a homemaker was one of the “most important” titles a woman could hold, adding that his own wife’s life “truly started when she began living her vocation as a wife and as a mother.”

“I think it is you, the women, who have had the most diabolical lies told to you,” he said, and added: “Some of you may go on to lead successful careers in the world, but I would venture to guess that the majority of you are most excited about your marriage and the children you will bring into this world.”

At other moments, Butker lamented people who push “dangerous gender ideologies onto the youth of America” and seemed to reference LGBTQ+ Pride Month as “the deadly sin sort of pride that has an entire month dedicated to it.”

He also referred to “the tyranny of diversity, equity and inclusion” and said abortion, in vitro fertilization and surrogacy “stem from the pervasiveness of disorder.”

Jonathan Beane, the NFL’s chief diversity and inclusion officer, said last week that Butker was speaking in a 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,” Beane said in a statement.

Butker did not respond to earlier requests for comment from NBC News.

At the gala on Friday, Butker said he believed that public opinion about his commencement comments had evolved with time.

“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,” he said.

Several of Butker’s Chiefs teammates have indeed emphasized his right to express his beliefs openly.

Tight end Travis Kelce said Friday on his “New Heights” podcast that Butker is a great person and teammate.

“When it comes down to his views and what he said at St. Benedict’s 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.”

Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes also called Butker a “great person” while speaking to reporters last week.

“There’s some things he said 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,” Mahomes said.

Aria Bendix

Aria Bendix is the breaking health reporter for NBC News Digital.

Associated Press

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