Fallout From NFL Kicker Harrison Butker’s Speech Spotlights NFL’s Challenge With Misogyny

Kansas City Chiefs stood by kicker Harrison Butker Wednesday after his divisive speech -- a reflection of a sympathetic undercurrent throughout much of the NFL.

Here’s a good rule about NFL media: Kickers — like offensive linemen — only get talked about for the wrong reasons.

With that context, the Kansas City Chiefs spent much of their Wednesday media availability talking about their kicker, Harrison Butker, and his speech.

Reaction to Chiefs Kicker Harrison Butker’s Speech Is Telling

Butker has been a national lightning rod since his commencement address that supporters say defended traditional values and detractors say was downright sexist.

The league even took the unusual step of distancing itself from Butker’s comments on the proper role of women in society, gay rights, and abortion, saying last week that the kicker’s remarks “are not those of the NFL as an organization. The NFL is steadfast in our commitment to inclusion, which only makes our league stronger.”

But as for the Chiefs themselves? They were in full love-the-messenger-if-not-the-message mode on Wednesday.

“I’ve known him for seven years,” Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes said, according to Athletic Chiefs reporter Nate Taylor. “I judge him by the character he shows every day, and that’s a good person … We’re not always going to agree. He said certain things I don’t agree with.”

Translation: Mahomes was friends with Butker before his address to Benedictine graduates, and that hasn’t changed.

Chiefs coach Andy Reid likewise tiptoed carefully around the landmines Butker had placed for him during his Wednesday media availability.

“We’re a microcosm of life,” Reid said, per The Athletic. “… We all respect each other’s opinions. We all have a voice.”

But freedom of speech works both ways. Just as Butker has the right to express reactionary views on the role of women in the workplace, Chiefs fans have the right to tell him to zip it — or even take their business elsewhere.

That last option is highly unlikely. Located on the border of two deep red states, the Chiefs have one of the league’s most conservative fanbases. There’s a reason why Butker’s jersey became the league’s best-selling last week. A lot of people liked what they heard.

Which might be why NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell — who has spoken out against racism and for gay rights — treaded carefully when asked about Butker’s comments at the NFL’s May owners meetings.

“We have over 3,000 players,” Goodell said. “We have executives around the league. They have diversity of opinions and thoughts just like America does. That’s something we treasure.”

Our sense from conversations around the league? Most NFL players aren’t rabid misogynists. But many certainly think Butker’s worldview isn’t an anathema that needs to be throttled. And a good number agree with him.

But most think it’s just fine that he expresses beliefs that many find downright offensive.

“I think you do have to open the eyes of the players to their platform if they’re new to the situation,” Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel said Tuesday when asked about the Butker firestorm. “I think you have to understand that what you say publicly can be fragmented and last with you forever. I really emphasize that whatever you’re going to say, you better believe it.

“You just try to educate people to understand the consequences of whatever they do. They have the freedom of choice, and if they want to go that direction, go right ahead. I’ll be right over here hanging out with you guys.”

Listen to the PFN Dolphins Podcast

Listen to the PFN Dolphins Podcast! Click the embedded player below to listen, or you can find the PFN Dolphins Podcast on iTunes, Spotify, and all major podcast platforms.  Be sure to subscribe and leave us a five-star review! Rather watch instead? Check out the PFN Dolphins Podcast on our NFL YouTube channel.

Related Articles