The Kansas City Chiefs have found themselves at the center of a media storm following controversial comments made by kicker Harrison Butker during a commencement speech at Benedictine College. With the football community and fans weighing in on Butker's comments, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and head coach Andy Reid have finally addressed the situation, providing their perspectives on the matter.

Mahomes shared his thoughts on Butker's remarks on Wednesday. Mahomes emphasized the importance of judging individuals based on their daily actions and character, rather than isolated statements. He expressed his long-standing respect for Butker but made it clear that he did not agree with everything Butker said during his speech.

“I've known him for seven years. I judge him by the character he shows every day and that's a good person,” Patrick Mahomes stated, per The Athletic's Nate Taylor. “We're not always going to agree. He said certain things I don't agree with.” This response highlights Mahomes' effort to separate Butker's professional capabilities and personal character from the controversial opinions he expressed.

Mahomes further stated, per ESPN's Courtney Cronin, “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 going to agree. And there's certain things that he said that I don't necessarily agree with, but I understand the person that he is and he is trying to do whatever he can to lead people in the right direction. And that might not be the same values as I have, but at the same time I'm going to judge him by the character that he shows every single day. That's a great person and we'll continue to move along and try to help build each other up to make ourselves better every single day. But at the end of the day we're going to come together as a team and I think that'll help out as eliminating those distractions outside of the building as well.”

Mahomes also admitted that his relationship with Butker is strictly professional, noting that they have not communicated much outside of their football interactions.

“Honestly, I don't talk to Harrison all year long, man. I just let him do his thing,” Patrick Mahomes revealed during an appearance on The Pat McAfee Show. “But I know if I can just cross that 40, man, if I cross that 40, he's going to put it through there.”

This statement underscores Mahomes' confidence in Butker's abilities on the field, despite their limited off-field interaction.

Chiefs head coach Andy Reid also weighed in on the controversy, emphasizing the diversity of opinions within the team and the broader society. Reid pointed out that the NFL, like life, is a “microcosm” where various viewpoints coexist.

“I didn't think I need to. We're a microcosm of life. … We all respect each other's opinions. We all have a voice,” Reid said. His comments reflect a philosophy of tolerance and respect for differing perspectives within the team environment.

Fallout from Harrison Butker's controversial comments

Harrison Butker kicking
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The controversy began when Harrison Butker delivered a commencement speech at Benedictine College in Kansas. During his 20-minute address, Butker made several statements that sparked intense backlash. Addressing the female graduates, he emphasized the importance of traditional roles, which many perceived as outdated and offensive.

“For the ladies present today, congratulations on an amazing accomplishment. 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. 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,” Butker said.

This remark was criticized for implying that women's primary role should be as homemakers, which many found reductive and dismissive of women's diverse aspirations.

Butker did not stop there. He also condemned what he termed “degenerate cultural values” and “dangerous gender ideologies.” He criticized President Joe Biden and the current U.S. government, stating: “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.”

These comments were seen as politically charged and controversial, especially in a setting meant to celebrate academic achievements.

The reaction to Butker's speech was swift and intense. Prior to the comments from Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid, social media erupted with criticism from NFL fans, members of the wider football community, and advocacy groups. LGBTQ+ advocacy group GLAAD condemned Butker's remarks, stating that his comments were “woefully out of step with Americans about pride, LGBTQ people and women.”

Susannah Leisegang, a graphics design major who attended the commencement, took to TikTok to express her disappointment. She recalled the negative reception Butker's speech received from the audience.

“It was definitely horrible and it definitely made graduation feel a little less special knowing I had to sit through that and get told I'm nothing but a homemaker,” Leisegang said, highlighting the emotional impact of Butker's words on the graduates.

Former Chiefs cheerleader Stefanie Hills also addressed the issue on TikTok, criticizing Butker for his comments. She called out the kicker for his perceived hypocrisy, particularly regarding his advice to “stay in your lane.” Hills remarked: “The best part of your speech when you said ‘stay in your lane' ten plus times. Bro, take your own advice.”

The backlash extended beyond social media, affecting Butker's standing within the football community. The incident has sparked discussions about the role of athletes in public discourse and the consequences of their statements. While Butker's on-field performance remains respected, his off-field comments have undoubtedly affected his public image.

The controversy surrounding Harrison Butker's commencement speech has brought to light the complex interplay between personal beliefs and professional responsibilities. Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid's responses underscore the importance of respecting diverse opinions while maintaining a focus on the team's collective goals. As the Chiefs navigate this challenging situation, the incident serves as a reminder of the influential platform athletes hold and the scrutiny that accompanies their public statements.

In the ever-evolving landscape of professional sports, the Chiefs' handling of this controversy will likely serve as a case study in balancing personal expression with the expectations of a diverse and inclusive fanbase. As the dust settles, the focus will inevitably return to the field, where performance and teamwork remain the ultimate measures of success.