NFL Kicker’s Pro-Family Speech Continues to Stir Debate

NFL Kicker’s Pro-Family Speech Continues to Stir Debate

The controversy that NFL kicker Harrison Butker of the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs unleashed with a faith-centered, pro-family graduation speech at a Kansas college has initiated a national dialogue on traditional family values and free speech. Butker, a three-time Super Bowl winner with the Chiefs, has gained support from some expected and unexpected corners, even as an online petition has been circulated demanding the Chiefs release Butker.

While the NFL quickly distanced itself from Butker’s remarks made during graduation ceremonies at Benedictine College on May 11, supporters have spoken up by the millions on social media in his defense. Meanwhile, sales of Butker’s No. 7 Chiefs jersey quickly skyrocketed, outpacing the jerseys of teammates Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce, according to news reports citing sales from the NFL’s merchandising outlet.

Butker’s speech warned broadly of the cultural tides pushing against Biblical values, touching on abortion and the LGBTQ movement, but his comments on family life and motherhood drew the most ire from the left.

On Facebook, Franklin Graham was among those speaking up for Butker: “Three-time Super Bowl champ, Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker is taking a bold stand with comments he made during a commencement speech at Benedictine College last weekend. … He said, ‘The world around us says that we should keep our beliefs to ourselves whenever they go against the tyranny of diversity, equity, and inclusion … We fear speaking truth, because now, unfortunately, truth is in the minority.’ He received a standing ovation, and I’m glad! I appreciate him not backing down or allowing himself to be bullied into silence about his beliefs. God bless him!”

Addressing female graduates, 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 added that her title, “homemaker,” is one of the most important of all.

Despite the NFL’s “politically correct” public stance, his public supporters include Tavia Hunt, the wife of Chiefs owner Clark Hunt, and their daughter, Gracie.

“I’ve always encouraged my daughters to be highly educated and chase their dreams,” Tavia Hunt said on Instagram. “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.”

ESPN commentator Samantha Ponder, who has spoken openly about her Christian faith, also voiced support for Butker. Ponder is married to former Florida State and NFL quarterback Christian Ponder.

“I think the petition that he should be fired from the Chiefs is totally un-American,” Ponder wrote on Instagram. “… Personally I agreed with a few things he said … especially that most women are more excited/proud of their families than their day jobs. I love my job and have worked my butt off (and slept in my car) to get here, but it’s not even comparable to how I feel about being a mom! ESPN will not be with me on my deathbed. When did that become offensive?”

Most surprising might be a few voices from the left supporting Butker’s right to express his views without being canceled, including a co-host of “The View,” Whoopi Goldberg, and from well-known liberal comedian Bill Maher.

During an episode of Maher’s streaming TV talk show “Real Time,” he told viewers he “can’t express how much [Butker] is not like me. … He’s religious, he loves marriage, he loves kids … and now he’s history’s greatest monster,” Maher said in a sarcastic jab at Butker’s critics.

“I don’t see what the big crime is,” Maher continued. “I think this is part of the problem people have with the left. … He’s saying some of you may go on to lead successful careers, but a lot of you are excited about this other way that people, everybody, used to be … Can’t that just be a choice, too?”

Photo via Newscom

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