NFL Distances Itself From Chiefs Kicker Harrison Butker’s Conservative Commencement Speech

NFL Distances Itself From Chiefs Kicker Harrison Butker’s Conservative Commencement Speech
Harrison Butker of the Kansas City Chiefs speaks to the media during Super Bowl LVIII Opening Night at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas on Feb. 5, 2024. (Chris Unger/Getty Images)

The National Football League (NFL) repudiated Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker’s conservative commencement speech before a Catholic college, while the White House weighed in on the controversy, stopping short of condemning it.

“Harrison Butker gave a speech in his personal capacity,” Jonathan Beane, NFL senior vice president and chief diversity and inclusion officer, said in a statement released on May 16.

“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.”

Addressing Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, on May 11, Mr. Butker, 28, criticized President Joe Biden’s abortion stance and the stigma behind women being stay-at-home moms.

“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 during a pro-abortion rally,” he said. “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.”

When asked on May 16 about those remarks, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said that President Biden is unapologetic when it comes to the issue of abortion.

“The president is not going to back away from supporting women and reproductive rights, reproductive health care,” she said.

“I can’t speak to those direct comments, but what I can speak to is what the president has committed to, and he has shown that over and over again and you have a vice president that has toured the country talking exactly about that, about how we have to protect our freedoms and freedoms of …  reproductive health.”

When it comes to women, Mr. Butker said that there is nothing wrong with women pursuing a career or being a homemaker like his wife, Isabelle Butker.

“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,” he said.

Mr. Butker called on the males in the audience to embrace masculinity and not be absent from their household, citing the issue of fatherlessness in the United States that critics say has contributed to violence by children in those homes.

Mr. Butker also echoed an anti-Semitic trope.

“We fear speaking truth, because now, unfortunately, truth is in the minority. Congress just passed a bill where stating something as basic as the biblical teaching of who killed Jesus could land you in jail,” he said, referring to the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act, which passed the House a couple weeks ago and is pending in the Senate.

The bill would codify a 2019 executive order that included protection for Jews under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The bill, which comes amid widespread anti-Semitism in the United States, especially on college and university campuses, stated that the government is to rely on the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of anti-Semitism in deeming whether an incident is anti-Semitic and violates Title VI.

The notion of the Jews killing Jesus is one of the examples of anti-Semitism given by IHRA.

Proponents of the bill have dismissed these concerns as a “mischaracterization” of the IHRA definition, with the director of the Anti-Defamation League, Jonathan Greenblatt, saying that such concerns are simply “[promoting] the age-old antisemitic myth of deicide.”

The Kansas City Chiefs have declined to comment on Mr. Butker’s speech.

Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey, a Republican, accused Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas, a Democrat, of his office doxing Mr. Butker following the kicker’s comments.

“My office is demanding accountability after @KansasCity doxxed @buttkicker7 last night for daring to express his religious beliefs,” Mr Bailey posted on X, formerly Twitter.

In a now-deleted post, Mr. Lucas’s office said, “Just a reminder of [where Mr. Butker lives].”

Mr. Lucas has since apologized, calling the post “clearly inappropriate for a public account.”

The Chiefs have won the Super Bowl twice with Mr. Butker, who made 94.3 percent of his field goals last season. He has made 89.1 percent of his field goals in his seven-year NFL career.

From The Epoch Times

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