Three-time Super Bowl champion NFL kicker Harrison Butker ignited a firestorm this past weekend courtesy of a commencement address he gave extolling multi-millennia-old virtues concerning faith, family, courage, principle, morality, marriage, human sexuality and the sanctity of human life.

Speaking at Benedictine College, the 28-year-old Butker, who is a professing Catholic, took aim at what he considers to be absent, negligent, and even narcissistic leadership – both within his own church and the wider culture.

“Bad policies and poor leadership have negatively impacted major life issues,” he said. “Things like abortion, IVF, surrogacy, euthanasia as well as a growing support for degenerate cultural values and media all stem from the pervasiveness of disorder.”

Rarely before has such a courageous and articulate defender of life’s most important things used his platform in the NFL for such good purposes. Saturday’s address in Atchison, Kansas, wasn’t the first time the Georgia Tech alum used his gridiron pulpit – and it surely won’t be the last.

“These are the sorts of things we are told in polite society to not bring up,” he told those assembled. “You know, the difficult and unpleasant things. But if we are going to be men and women for this time in history, we need to stop pretending that the ‘Church of nice’ is a winning proposition. We must always speak and act in charity, but never mistake charity for cowardice.”

Following his remarks, the NFL distanced itself from the kicker. “His views are not those of the NFL as an organization,” wrote Jonathan Beane, the NFL’s senior vice president and chief diversity and inclusion officer. “The NFL is steadfast in our commitment to inclusion, which only makes our league stronger.”

What makes the NFL stronger aren’t vague, politically correct musings from its front office – but bold, principled leaders like Harrison Butker who loves his Lord, his wife and his family. Unapologetic and fearless, he’s not shying away from issues, going along, to get along.

You’d think that at a time when the NFL continues to face personnel issues ranging from spousal abuse to drug addictions to an array of criminal activities, they’d want to lift up a good family man like Harrison. Instead, they denounce and dismiss. Rather than criticize Butker’s views, the NFL would be wise to examine the vacuousness of its own.

This good faith-filled family man is being roasted for saying things that are wholly reasonable and which most people believe. The backlash against Butker illustrates just how upside-down things are today.

Tavia Hunt, wife of Chiefs’ owner Clark Hunt, released a statement in support of the team’s kicker via Instagram on Thursday.

“Affirming motherhood and praising your wife, as well as highlighting the sacrifice and dedication it takes to be a mother, is not bigoted,” she wrote. “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.”

She also knocked down the ludicrous notion that a difference of opinion is meanspirited.

“Someone disagreeing with you doesn’t make them hateful,” she said. “It simply means they have a different opinion. Let’s celebrate families, motherhood, and fatherhood. Our society desperately need dedicated men and women to raise up and train the next generation in the way they should go. Proverbs 31:28 says, ‘Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.’ Embracing the beautiful roles that God has made is something to celebrate.”

Addressing the unfounded, ignorant, and at times vile backlash against Butker, Mrs. Hunt cautioned against taking people’s words 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,” she concluded.

“I am certain the reporters at the AP could not have imagined that their attempt to rebuke and embarrass places and people like those here at Benedictine wouldn’t be met with anger, but instead with excitement and pride,” Butker told the graduates. “Not the deadly sin sort of pride that has an entire month dedicated to it. But the true God-centered pride that is cooperating with the Holy Ghost to glorify Him.”

When was the last time you saw a professional athlete with such grit and guts?

To those who think that Butker should keep his Christian convictions private, the father of two explained:

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. Congress just passed a bill where stating something as basic as the Biblical teaching of who killed Jesus could land you in jail.

Butker’s critics really went apoplectic, though, over his comments directed toward women, whom he congratulated, empathized with, and affirmed.

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 had the most diabolical lies told to you, how many of you are sitting here now about to cross the 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. 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.

I’m on this stage today and able to be the man I am because I have a wife who leans into her vocation. I’m beyond blessed with the many talents God has given me. But it cannot be overstated, that all of my success is made possible because a girl I met in band class back in middle school would convert to the faith, become my wife and embrace one of the most important titles of all: homemaker.

She’s a primary educator to our children. She’s the one who ensures I never let football or my business become a distraction from that of a husband and father. She is the person that knows me best at my core.

It would seem, though, that what’s really behind the angst and the anger with Harrison Butker’s address is that not only isn’t he conforming to what the NFL and popular culture wants him to say and believe – but that his conclusion is, at least at this point, a bridge too far for his critics.

Noting that true happiness will only be found “in the complete surrender of self and a turning towards Christ,” the Kansas City kicker correctly sees everywhere we find ourselves to be “mission territory.”

He wrapped up Saturday’s address by stating simply and profoundly, “Christ is King to the heights.”



Image credit: Benedictine College