Patrick Mahomes

Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid react to Harrison Butker's commencement speech

Andy Reid said he doesn't feel the need to discuss the situation personally with the Chiefs kicker.

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Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and head coach Andy Reid have addressed the controversial commencement speech given by kicker Harrison Butker at Benedictine College last week.

The Chiefs quarterback spoke to reporters following Wednesday's OTA session.

“I've known him for seven years," Mahomes said. "I judge him by the character that he shows every single day, and that's a good person. That's someone who cares about the people around him, cares about his family and wants to make a good impact in society.

"When you're in the locker room, there's a lot of people from a lot of different areas of life, and they have a lot of different views on everything, and we're not always gonna agree. There are certain things that he said that 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. It might not be the same values as I have, but at the same time, I'm gonna judge him by the character that he shows every single day, and that's a great person."

Reid told reporters he doesn't feel the need to discuss the situation personally with Butker and that no employees of the organization have come forward with complaints.

"Everybody's got their own opinion," Reid said. "That's what's so great about this country. ... I don't think he was speaking ill of women. He has his opinions and we all respect that. I let you guys [the media] in this room and you have a lot of opinions that I don't like."

Butker's 20-minute speech has drown both outrage and praise across the country for its themes about society as it relates to Catholicism.

Here's a breakdown of what happened:

Who is Harrison Butker?

Butker is the 28-year-old kicker for the Kansas City Chiefs.

The 2017 seventh-round pick out of Georgia Tech has become one of the NFL’s best kickers, breaking the Chiefs’ franchise record with a 62-yard field goal in 2022. Butker helped them win their first Super Bowl in 50 years in 2020, added a second Lombardi Trophy in 2023, and he kicked the field goal that forced overtime in a Super Bowl win over the San Francisco 49ers in February.

He is also a conservative Catholic and has shared some of his religious beliefs on social media in the past.

What did Harrison Butker say?

Butker appeared as the commencement speaker last week at Benedictine College, a private Catholic liberal arts school in Kansas, and said most of the women receiving degrees were probably more excited about getting married and having children.

Butker also said some Catholic leaders were “pushing dangerous gender ideologies onto the youth of America" and assailed Pride Month, a particularly important time for the LGBTQ+ rights movement, and President Joe Biden’s stance on abortion.

“I think it is you, the women, who have had the most diabolical lies told to you,” Butker said.

“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. I can tell you that my beautiful wife Isabelle would be the first to say that her life truly started when she started living her vocation as a wife and as a mother,” he said.

Butker said that his wife embraced “one of the most important titles of all. Homemaker.“

He referred to a “deadly sin sort of pride that has a month dedicated to it” in an oblique reference to Pride Month and took aim at Biden's policies, including his condemnation of the Supreme Court's reversal of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision and advocacy for freedom of choice — a key campaign issue in the 2024 presidential race.

Butker also tackled Biden's response to COVID-19, which has killed nearly 1.2 million people in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“While COVID might have played a large role throughout your formative years, it is not unique,” he said. “Bad policies and poor leadership have negatively impacted major life issues. Things like abortion, IVF, surrogacy, euthanasia, as well as growing support for degenerate cultural values and media all stem from pervasiveness of disorder.”

At one point Butker used a quote from Taylor Swift, who is dating his teammate Travis Kelce.

"As my teammate's girlfriend says, 'familiarity breeds contempt,'" Butker said.

The line is part of Swift's song "Bejeweled."

What was the response from graduates?

Video of the commencement shows virtually all the graduates and spectators rising to a standing ovation, but student interviews showed a more mixed reaction.

ValerieAnne Volpe, 20, who graduated with an art degree, lauded Butker for saying things that “people are scared to say.”

“You can just hear that he loves his wife. You can hear that he loves his family,” she said.

Elle Wilbers, 22, who is heading to medical school, said she was shocked by Butker’s criticism of priests and bishops and his reference to the LGBTQ+ community, one that she described as “horrible.”

“We should have compassion for the people who have been told all their life that the person they love is like, it’s not OK to love that person,” Wilbers said.

Kassidy Neuner, 22, who will spend a gap year teaching before going to law school, said being a stay-at-home parent is “a wonderful decision.”

“And it’s also not for everybody,” Neuner added, saying, "I think that he should have addressed more that it’s not always an option. And, if it is your option in life, that’s amazing for you. But there’s also the option to be a mother and a career woman.”

The Benedictine Sisters of Mount St. Scholastica, one of the founding sponsors of Benedictine College, issued a statement Thursday criticizing Butker’s speech, contending it did not properly represent the college's values.

“Instead of promoting unity in our church, our nation, and the world, his comments seem to have fostered division,” the statement said.

“One of our concerns was the assertion that being a homemaker is the highest calling for a woman,” it added. “We sisters have dedicated our lives to God and God’s people, including the many women whom we have taught. ... These women have made a tremendous difference in the world in their roles as wives and mothers and through their God-given gifts in leadership, scholarship, and their careers.”

What about the NFL?

The NFL is distancing itself from Butker.

"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 Thursday. “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.”

The Chiefs declined to comment on Butker's commencement address.

But the wife of Chiefs chairman and CEO Clark Hunt, Tavia Hunt, wrote a lengthy Instagram post addressing some of Butker's remarks.

"I’ve always encouraged my daughters to be highly educated and chase their dreams. I want them to know that they can do whatever they want (that honors God). But I also want them to know that I believe finding a spouse who loves and honors you as or before himself and raising a family together is one of the greatest blessings this world has to offer. Studies show that committed, married couples with children are the happiest demographic, and this has been my experience as well," she wrote. "*Affirming motherhood and praising your wife, as well as highlighting the sacrifice and dedication it takes to be a mother, is not bigoted. It is empowering to acknowledge that a woman’s hard work in raising children is not in vain.* Countless highly educated women devote their lives to nurturing and guiding their children. Someone disagreeing with you doesn’t make them hateful; it simply means they have a different opinion. Let’s celebrate families, motherhood and fatherhood. Our society desperately needs dedicated men and women to raise up and train the next generation in the way they should go."

She also added, "I also caution against taking things out of context. Sound bites overlaid with hateful comments are not what we want to model for our children or others. We need more dialogue (and VALUES, IMO) in this country and less hate."

Meanwhile, the Chargers took aim at Butker in their viral schedule release video.

During the end credits, the video showed Butker cooking and cleaning.

What is Benedictine College?

The fast-growing college is part of a constellation of conservative Catholic colleges that tout their adherence to church teachings and practice — part of a larger conservative movement in parts of the U.S. Catholic Church.

The college is located in in Atchison, Kansas, about 60 miles north of Kansas City, and traces its roots to 1858. It has an enrollment of about 2,200.

Its “mission as a Catholic, Benedictine, liberal arts, residential college is the education of men and women within a community of faith and scholarship,” according to its website.

But its also home to more traditional expressions of Catholicism, such as the Latin Mass, all-night prayer vigils and a strict code of conduct. Its mission statement further cites its commitment to "those specific matters of faith of the Roman Catholic tradition, as revealed in the person of Jesus Christ and handed down in the teachings of the Church.”

The school gets a high ranking from the Cardinal Newman Society, a group that touts nearly two-dozen conservative colleges that exhibit what it calls “faithful Catholic education." That includes upholding church teachings and Catholic identity while providing ample Masses and other devotional activities in shaping their students.

The society seeks to differentiate schools that “refuse to compromise their Catholic mission” from those that have become “battlegrounds for today’s culture wars.” Others praised by the society include Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., Ave Maria University in Florida and Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio.

The society's ranking says Benedictine benefits from having monks in residence, multiple Masses and prayer groups, spiritually focused organizations and theology programs with professors with a “mandatum" of approval from the local bishop.

Benedictine's enrollment has doubled in the past 20 years. Some 85% of its students are Catholic, according to the Cardinal Newman Society.

Annual tuition for full-time undergraduates is $35,350, but Benedictine says 100% of its students receive some form of financial aid.

Benedictine’s sports teams, called the Ravens, compete in National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. Its athletics department says it is committed to ”setting the highest standards for academic success, athletic competition, ethical behavior, fiscal responsibility, and spiritual development.”

What has the response been elsewhere?

The "TODAY" show's Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager slammed the speech with a fiery response.

"Well, I'm where I am today because I have a husband who leans into his vocation, which is being an equal partner. And I tell him that all the time," Hager said.

"Don't speak for us," Kotb added. "Stop speaking for women out there."

Hager noted that those who stay home with families are "amazing," but said "let's not compare one to the other."

"There are lots of women who actually would like to stay at home, but because they need to earn money, they don't even have that privilege to do it," Kotb added.

NBC News Correspondent Maria Shriver also weighed in, saying "We all have the right to voice our opinions, but let us strive to do so with dignity and respect." petition demanding the Chiefs dismiss Butker from the team has garnered more than 220,000 signatures.

Meanwhile, as of Friday, Butker's jersey was listed among the top sellers on the NFL shop's website and was named the most popular jersey for Kansas City Chiefs players, besting even popular stars like Patricks Mahomes and Travis Kelce.

Commenters have taken to Butker's social media accounts to share their reactions, with responses ranging from both support to criticism.

"As a woman who graduated valedictorian from high school, finished my four year degree in three years (double majored) and tacked on a Master’s during the fourth year, who now owns a business (a school, nonetheless) and is absolutely the epitome of a confident woman…..THANK YOU for your words," one commenter wrote. "My greatest joy in life is found in my family. My husband and my children are the most profound gift and the most beautiful responsibility I have ever been given. Serving the people I love in our home is a joy. I’m not chained there; I choose there because I CHOOSE them. There is no greater purpose. And AS a woman, I will never allow anyone to insinuate that somehow devalues me as a female."

"I am the breadwinner for my family of six. I Iove my job. Harrison, please tell me where I went wrong so I can repent and start cooking and cleaning," another user said.

"I feel bad for those poor women who looked forward to their graduation and had you inflicted on them. You misunderstood the assignment of a graduation speech. It’s not your own personal platform to do a manifesto," one commenter wrote.

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