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Travis Kelce finally addresses teammate Harrison Butker’s commencement speech

‘I can’t say I agree with the majority of it, or just about any of it, outside of just him loving his family or his kids,’ Kelce says about the speech

Amber Raiken
New York
Friday 24 May 2024 16:09 BST
Travis Kelce speaks out on Chiefs teammate Harrison Butker’s ‘homemaker’ speech

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Travis Kelce has finally addressed Harrison Butker’s controversial commencement speech.

The 34-year-old tight end responded to his teammate’s viral speech during an episode of his and his brother Jason Kelce’s New Heights podcast, which aired on 24 May. In his speech at the Class of 2024 graduation at Benedictine College – a Catholic school in Kansas – Butker made polarizing remarks in the name of Catholic extremism, including comments criticizing President Joe Biden for his faith, and attacking LGBTQ+ Pride Month. He also suggested women should focus on motherhood instead of their careers.

During the latest episode of his podcast, Travis spoke candidly about his friendship with Butker, as they’ve played for the Kansas City Chiefs together for so long.

“I call him Harry, I might be the only person who calls him Harry,” he said. “That just tells you, I mean, I’ve known him for seven-plus, eight-plus years and I cherish him as a teammate… He’s treated friends and family that I’ve introduced to him with nothing but respect and kindness and that’s how he treats everyone.”

He acknowledged that when it came to what Butker said at the commencement, those were the football kicker’s “views”. Travis also clarified that while he didn’t have the same beliefs as Butker, he wouldn’t scrutinize his friend for his views.

“I can’t say I agree with the majority of it, or just about any of it, outside of just him loving his family or his kids,” he continued. “And I don’t think I should judge him by his views, especially his religious views of how he goes about life. That’s just not who I am.”

He then expressed his gratitude for being raised in Cleveland Heights, explaining that he “grew up in a beautiful upbringing of different social classes, different religions, races, and ethnicities”. He further detailed why he loved Cleveland Heights and how his upbringing shaped his everyday perspectives.

“It showed me a broad view of just a lot of different walks of life and I appreciated every single one of those people for different reasons and I never once had to feel like I had to judge them based on their beliefs,” said the NFL star, who’s been in a public relationship with pop star Taylor Swift since last year.

He concluded by describing how thankful he was for his parents, Donna and Ed Kelce, since they both made their sons’ “home what it was”. He then acknowledged that his parents “were unbelievable at being present every single day of [his] life,” which shaped the person he now is.

“I think that was a beautiful upbringing for me,” he added. “Now, I don’t think everyone should do it the way that my parents did, but I certainly thank my parents and love [them] for providing and making sure that home was what it was because I’m not the same person without them being who they were in my life.”

Travis isn’t the first Kansas City Chiefs star to respond to Butker’s commencement speech. During a press conference on 22 May, Patrick Mahomes attested to his teammate’s personality, detailing that he’s known Butker for “several years” and that he judges the football kicker “by the character that he shows every single day, and that’s a good person”. Mahomes also pointed out that while he doesn’t share the same beliefs as Butker, the quarterback doesn’t want to judge his friend for that.

“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,” he explained. “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.”

A reporter then asked Mahomes to clarify whether there were any specific aspects of the speech that he personally disagreed with. In response, Mahomes said he would not “get into the full details of the entire speech” and would only speak to the kind of person Butker is.

“I’m gonna make sure that I look at that first and then let the other stuff kind of handle itself,” his statement ended.

Chiefs coach Andy Reid also weighed in, saying that he would not be discussing the speech with the kicker personally and no one has come forward to complain about it thus far.

“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,” he said during the press conference.

In his commencement speech earlier this month, Butker lambasted the fall of traditional Catholic values within society, telling the crowd of graduates that “abortion, IVF, surrogacy, euthanasia as well as a growing support for degenerate cultural values and media” were a byproduct of “the pervasiveness of disorder”.

He also commended the Benedictine graduating class for embracing their faith rather than giving into “deadly sin” celebrations like the upcoming Pride Month, which celebrates LGBTQ+ history and liberation. However, he called out Catholic parishioners for “misleading their flocks”, quoting lyrics from Swift’s song “Bejeweled”, and said their “familiarity breeds contempt”.

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