Kansas City Chiefs Tight End Travis Kelce ‘Cherishes’ Harrison Butker Despite Disagreeing With Speech

Kansas City Chiefs Tight End Travis Kelce ‘Cherishes’ Harrison Butker Despite Disagreeing With Speech
Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs speaks to the media during Kansas City Chiefs media availability ahead of Super Bowl LVIII at Westin Lake Las Vegas Resort and Spa in Henderson, Nev., on Feb. 6, 2024. (Chris Unger/Getty Images)

Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce says that he “cherishes” his teammate Harrison Butker following his controversial graduation speech earlier this month, while also distancing himself from his views.

During Friday’s episode of his “New Heights” podcast, the 34-year-old pro-football player weighed in about the wide-ranging speech at Benedictine College in which the Chiefs kicker criticized President Joe Biden, addressed women’s roles, targeted the LGBTQ community, and discussed a “plaguing society” with declining cultural values.

“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. I don’t think that I should judge him by his views, especially his religious views,” Mr. Kelce said.

He also said that he has only seen the three-time Super Bowl winner treat people with “nothing but respect and kindness” and called him “a great friend and teammate” but also said his opinions are his own.

The 20-minute, eyebrow-raising speech at the private Catholic college in Atchison, Kansas, on May 11 garnered national attention and ignited a major backlash among critics who accused the invited guest speaker of homophobia, transphobia, and misogyny.

At one point in the speech, he criticized “dangerous gender ideologies” and referenced “a deadly sin sort of pride that has a month dedicated to it” in an aim at LGBTQ Pride month.

He also encouraged the men in the audience to be “unapologetic” in their masculinity and fight against the “cultural emasculation of men.”

In another highly scrutinized part of the speech, he told females in the graduating class that women have been told “the most diabolical lies.” He also told them that they were likely “most excited” about the possibility of getting married and having children more so than reaching their professional goals. He also praised his own wife, Isabelle, for choosing her “vocation” as a homemaker over her career.

While discussing that portion of the speech, Mr. Kelce gave credit to both of his parents for his upbringing.

“Both my mother and my father made home what it was. So they were homemakers and they were providers, and they were unbelievable at being present every single day of my life,” he said.

Furthermore, growing up in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, showed him a “broad view of different walks of life,” and allowed him to appreciate different perspectives, according to the Chiefs star.

“I never once had to feel like I needed to judge them, based off of their beliefs,” he said.

His brother and podcast co-host, retired Eagles center Jason Kelce, also said he doesn’t align himself with many of his opinions in the speech but also acknowledged that it was the kind of speech expected for that specific audience.

“He’s giving a commencement speech at a Catholic university and, shocker, it ended up being a very religious and Catholic speech,” he said.

“To me, I can listen to somebody talk and take great value in it, like when he’s talking about the importance of family, and what the importance that a great mother can make, while also acknowledging that not everybody has to be a homemaker if that’s not what they want in life,” he added.

One portion of the graduation speech that was not discussed by either Kelce brother was when the kicker quoted Travis Kelce’s girlfriend, pop singer Taylor Swift, during his criticism of the Catholic clergy, saying “familiarity breeds contempt.”

Mr. Kelce is the latest member of the Chiefs kingdom to express support for the kicker since his speech, joining Head coach Andy Reid and star quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

As for the National Football League, it said in a statement that “his views are not those of the NFL” and that the organization is committed to inclusion.

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