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Travis Kelce won't judge Harrison Butker, even though kicker referenced Taylor Swift in speech

Chuck Schilken, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Football

Travis Kelce supports Harrison Butker and his right to express his views, even if the Kansas City Chiefs star tight end doesn't agree with his teammate's recent controversial comments during a speech at a private Catholic college's graduation.

During Friday's installment of the "New Heights" podcast, Kelce became the latest member of the Chiefs — following quarterback Patrick Mahomes and coach Andy Reid earlier this week — to express similar opinions on Butker's commencement speech at Benedictine College, during which the Kansas City kicker expressed radical views on gender roles and took shots at abortion, President Biden and Pride month.

"I've known him for seven-plus years probably, eight-plus years and I cherish him as a teammate," Kelce said. "I think Pat said it best where he is every bit of a great person and a great teammate. He's treated family and family that I've introduced to him with nothing but respect and kindness. And that's how he treats everyone."

"When it comes down to his views and what he said at the [Benedictine] commencement speech, those are his. I can't say I agree with the majority of it or just about any of it outside of just him loving his family and his kids. And I don't think that I should judge him by his views, especially his religious views, of how to go about life. That's just not who I am."

Kelce and his co-host/brother Jason Kelce, the recently retired Philadelphia Eagles center and recently hired ESPN analyst, spent several minutes early in the episode discussing Butker's comments and the reactions they have garnered.

"Make no mistake about it, a lot of the things he said in his commencement speech are not things that I align myself with," Jason said. "But he's giving a commencement speech at a Catholic university and shocker, it ended up being a very religious and Catholic speech."

"And to me, I can listen to somebody talk and take great value in it, like when he's talking about the importance of family and the importance that a great mother can make, while also acknowledge that not everybody has to be a homemaker if that's not what they want to do in life."

One portion of Butker's speech that wasn't mentioned on the podcast was the part where the three-time Super Bowl winning kicker referenced Travis Kelce and his pop superstar girlfriend, Taylor Swift, while criticizing certain Catholic priests.

"Tragically, so many priests revolve much of their happiness from the adulation that they receive from their parishioners, and in searching for this they let their guard down and become overly familiar," Butker said during his May 11 address. "This undue familiarity will prove to be problematic every time, because as my teammate's girlfriend says, familiarity breeds contempt."

 

Butker paused, looked up and smiled after making the Kelce/Swift reference, which received some laughs from the audience. Swift used the phrase in the song "Bejeweled" from her 2022 album "Midnights," but the saying has been around for centuries and even appeared in a contemporary translation of the New Testament.

Like Kelce, Swift has not publicly responded to being referenced by Butker, who in the same speech told male graduates to "be unapologetic in your masculinity" and female graduates that he "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 also told those women that "my beautiful wife, Isabelle, would be the first to say her life truly started when she began living her vocation as a wife and as a mother. ... It cannot be overstated that all 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."

On their podcast Friday, both Kelce brothers offered their views on those sentiments.

"You know, my household — my mother and my father both provided for my family and my mother and my father made home what it was," Kelce said. "So they were homemakers and they were providers, and they were unbelievable at being present every single day of my life. And I think that was a beautiful upbringing for me."

"Now I don't think everyone should do it the way my parents did, but I sure as hell thank my parents and love my parents for being able to provide and making sure that home what it was because I'm not the same person without the both of them being who they were in my life."

Jason Kelce, a father of three young daughters, added: "I've had so many people ask me what would you do if your daughters had to sit there and listen to someone tell them after they have just earned a degree that they should just go and align to be homemakers. And I would say if my daughters listen to anybody tell them what to do — that they should be homemakers — then I failed as a dad."

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