NFL Responds to Harrison Butker's Controversial Graduation Speech: "His Views Are Not Those of the NFL"

Butker's speech was widely condemned as "misogynistic" and "homophobic."

Harrison Butker #7 of the Kansas City Chiefs warms up before the AFC Wild Card Playoffs against the Miami Dolphins at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium on January 13, 2024 in Kansas City, Missouri.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The NFL has responded to the controversy surrounding a graduation speech Harrison Butker made this past Saturday.

The Kansas City Chiefs kicker went viral this week for his commencement speech at Benedictine College, a Catholic school in Atchison, Kansas. Commenters on social media widely condemned Butker's words as "misogynistic," "homophobic," and "transphobic."

"Harrison Butker gave a speech in his personal capacity," Jonathan Beane, senior vice president and chief diversity and inclusion officer for the NFL, told People in a statement on Wednesday. "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."

Butker made a series of comments in his speech that offended swathes of people online.

"For the ladies present today, congratulations on an amazing accomplishment," he said in one part of his talk.

"You should be proud of all that you have achieved to this point in your young lives. I want to speak directly to you briefly, because I think it is you, the women, who have the most diabolical lies told to you.

"How many of you are sitting here now, about to cross this stage, and are thinking about all the promotions and titles you're going to get in your career? 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."

Harrison Butker #7 of the Kansas City Chiefs celebrates with his children after kicking the go ahead field goal to beat the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LVII at State Farm Stadium on February 12, 2023 in Glendale, Arizona.

Harrison Butker celebrates with his children after winning the Super Bowl.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

He continued, "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."

(Butker and his wife got married in 2018, and share a young son and daughter.)

Not only did people blast the kicker's speech online, but they also quickly found out that his mother, Elizabeth Butker, is a physicist in the Department of Radiation Oncology at the Emory University School of Medicine, despite her son's views on women in the workplace.

Another piece of irony in Butker's speech? At one point, he quoted Taylor Swift—perhaps one of the most career-driven women ever—referring to her as his "teammate's girlfriend." (The teammate in question is of course Travis Kelce.)

Of course, this being the internet, people also brought the jokes, with one person tweeting, "As a woman, does watching Harrison Butker get cooked online count as being in the kitchen."

Butker was also slammed for apparently referring to Pride month as the "deadly sin sort of pride that has a month dedicated to it," and for condemning what he called "dangerous gender ideologies," which was widely read as taking aim at the trans community.

Following his speech, a petition has sprung up to dismiss Butker from the Chiefs, and counts over 85k signatures at time of writing.

Celebrities also responded to Butker's comments, with outspoken country star Maren Morris reposting a clip from his speech to her Instagram Stories with the caption, "I choose the bear." This is a reference to the viral question women are being asked online—if they were alone in the woods, would they prefer to encounter a strange man or a bear? Most women haven't hesitated to respond with "bear."

The rapper Flavor Flav tweeted, "Sounds like some players 'need to stay in their lanes' and shouldn’t be giving commencement speeches."

Elsewhere, one fan dug out a previous interview of Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes in which he said, "I don't talk to Harrison all year long, man, I just let him do his thing. We sit right beside each other in team meeting and I don't say one word to him." Yikesssss.

Morning Editor

Iris Goldsztajn is a London-based journalist, editor and author. She is the morning editor at Marie Claire, and her work has appeared in the likes of British Vogue, InStyle, Cosmopolitan, Refinery29 and SELF. Iris writes about everything from celebrity news and relationship advice to the pitfalls of diet culture and the joys of exercise. She has many opinions on Harry Styles, and can typically be found eating her body weight in cheap chocolate.