Read His Most Controversial Comments

Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker’s commencement speech at Benedictine College, a Catholic school, continues to cause outrage.

The NFL player’s 20-minute address included attacks on working women, the LBGTQ+ community and families who utilize surrogacy and in vitro fertilization (IVF).

Butker and the Chiefs did not immediately return PEOPLE’s requests for comment. In a statement, the NFL’s Chief Diversity Officer Jonathan Beane says, “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.”

Former Kansas City commissioner Justice Horn went further, slamming Butker in a post on X (formerly known as Twitter). “Harrison Butker doesn’t represent Kansas City nor has he ever,” he wrote. “Kansas City has always been a place that welcomes, affirms, and embraces our LGBTQ+ community members.”

Rapper Flavor Flav chimed in, “Sounds like some players ‘need to stay in their lanes’ and shouldn’t be giving commencement speeches.”

Writer Cyd Zeigler wrote, “Pretty awful to hear an NFL player so proudly tell women to ‘stay in their lane,’ serve their man and make babies. Not to mention comparing Pride month to a ‘deadly sin’ and lobbing bombs at the trans community. Not a fan.”

Amid the backlash, below is a breakdown of Butker’s most controversial comments from the speech.

On Taylor Swift’s Lyric

A portion of the outrage against Butker came from supporters of Taylor Swift after he shared one of her lyrics, which fans noticed he misinterpreted.

Butker quoted a lyric from Swift’s 2022 song “Bejeweled,” and referred to her as his teammate, Travis Kelce’s girlfriend.

“As my teammate’s girlfriend would say, familiarity breeds contempt,” Butker said when discussing the values of the Catholic Church.

What seemed to have been lost on Butker, however, is that the song’s message is about Swift embracing her independence away from a former boyfriend.

On the Covid-19 Pandemic and President Joe Biden

At the start of his speech, Butker addressed how the class of 2024 was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic at the start of their college careers. The subject quickly transitioned into attacks on President Joe Biden and topics such as abortion, IVF, surrogacy and euthanasia.

“I’m sure your high school graduation was not what you had imagined and most likely neither was your first couple years of college. By making it to this moment through all the adversity thrown your way from COVID, I hope you learned the important lesson that suffering in this life is only temporary,” he said. “As a group, you witnessed firsthand how bad leaders who don’t stay in their lane can have a negative impact on society.”

Butker went on: “Bad policies and poor leadership have negatively impacted major life issues. Things like abortion, IVF, surrogacy, euthanasia, as well as a growing support for degenerate cultural values in media, all stem from the pervasiveness of disorder. Our own nation is led by a man who publicly and proudly proclaims his Catholic faith, but at the same time is delusional enough to make the sign of the cross.”

The Chiefs kicker continued his verbal attack on Biden, saying, “During a pro-abortion rally, he has been so vocal in his support for the murder of innocent babies that I’m sure to many people it appears that you can be both Catholic and pro-choice.”

“This is an important reminder that being Catholic alone doesn’t cut it. These are the sorts of things we’re told in polite society to not bring up. The difficult and unpleasant things. But if we are going to be men and women for this time in history, we need to stop pretending that the ‘Church of Nice’ is a winning proposition. We must always speak and act in charity, but never mistake charity for cowardice.”

He continued: “As members of the church founded by Jesus Christ, it is our duty and ultimately privilege to be authentically and unapologetically Catholic.”

Harrison Butker with his children at Super Bowl LVII on Feb. 12, 2023, in Glendale, Arizona.

Carmen Mandato/Getty 


On LGBTQ+ Pride

Butker then turned the focus of his speech to the Catholic values at Benedictine College. However, his sentiments attacked the LGBTQ+ and trans communities.

Butker said, “Benedictine has gone from just another liberal arts school with nothing to set it apart to a thriving beacon of light … I’m certain the reporters at the AP could not have imagined that their attempt to rebuke and embarrass places and people like those here at Benedictine wouldn’t be met with anger, but instead met with excitement and pride, not the deadly sin sort of pride that has an entire month dedicated to it, but the true God-centered pride that is cooperating with the Holy Ghost to glorify him.”

On IVF and Surrogacy

Butker later attacked families who utilize IVF and surrogacy to have children, saying, “It is imperative that this class, this generation, in this time in our society must stop pretending that the things we see around us are normal.”

“Heterodox ideas abound, even within Catholic circles. Let’s be honest, there is nothing good about playing God with having children, whether that be your ideal number or the perfect time to conceive. No matter how you spin it, there is nothing natural about Catholic birth control. It is only in the past few years that I have grown encouraged to speak more boldly and directly because as I mentioned earlier, I have leaned into my vocation as a husband and father and as a man.”

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On Working Women

In a direct address to the female graduates at Benedictine, Butker said, “For the ladies present today, congratulations on an amazing accomplishment. 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.”

“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.”

Of his spouse, Butker said, “I can tell you that my beautiful wife, Isabelle, would be the first to say that her life truly started when she began living her vocation as a wife and as a mother. I’m on this stage today and able to be the man I am because I have a wife who leans into her vocation. I’m beyond blessed with the many talents God has given me, but it cannot be overstated that all of my success is made possible because a girl I met in band class back in middle school, who would convert to the faith, become my wife and embrace one of the most important titles of all: homemaker.”

Harrison Butker with wife Isabelle Butker and their baby at the AFC Championship Game in Kansas City, Missouri, on Jan. 19, 2020.

Jamie Squire/Getty


He continued, “I say all of this to you because I have seen firsthand how much happier someone can be when they disregard the outside noise and move closer and closer to God’s will in their life. Isabelle’s dream of having a career might not have come true, but if you asked her today if she has any regrets on her decision, she would laugh out loud without hesitation and say, heck no.”

Several users on social media have pointed out, however, that Butker’s mother, Elizabeth Butker, is a successful physicist at Emory University’s Department of Radiation Oncology.

On Masculinity

Moving his focus to the male graduates in the room, Butker said, “To the gentlemen here today, part of what plagues our society 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 …”

“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 as well. Be unapologetic in your masculinity. Fight against the cultural emasculation of men. Do hard things. Never settle for what is easy. You might have a talent that you don’t necessarily enjoy, but if it glorifies God, maybe you should lean into that over something that you might think suits you better.”

Concluding his speech, Butker said, “I know that my message today had a little less fluff than is expected for these speeches, but I believe that this audience and this venue is the best place to speak openly and honestly about who we are and where we all want to go, which is heaven. I thank God for Benedictine College and for the example it provides to the world.”

“Make no mistake, you are entering into mission territory in a post God world, but you are made for this and with God by your side and a constant striving for virtue within your vocation, you too can be a saint. Christ is king to the heights.”

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