NFL rejects the views Anti-Trans Harrison Butker shared in his speech

Harrison Butker should have known what he was doing when he wrote a commencement speech at Benedictine College seemingly seeking to return American culture to the 1950s.

The kicker for the Kansas City Chiefs in his speech on Saturday unleashed a torrent of personal opinion that attacked the LGBTQ community and trans people, women in the workplace, bishops who didn’t do what he wanted, and everyone else who isn’t a masculine conservative Christian man.

It was reminiscent of former NFL player Reggie White’s stunning speech to the Wisconsin legislature in 1998 that, for many, turned him into a symbol of hate.

Comments from NBC commentator and former NFL coach Tony Dungy, about the gays and Taylor Swift, also come to mind.

Butker did all of that as the NFL has been working for years to attract a broader, more diverse group of people not just as fans, but as active participants on the sidelines of games, in front offices and even on the field.

The NFL’s Chief Diversity Officer, Jonathan Beane, made it clear to Outsports the NFL is not on board with what Butker said.

“Harrison Butker gave a speech in his personal capacity,” Beane told Outsports in a written statement. “His views are not those of the NFL as an organization. The NFL is steadfast in our commitment to inclusion, which only makes our league stronger.”

The league has put forward a number of efforts to create an inclusive environment for LGBTQ fans and employees. They have released rainbow-inspired NFL Pride gear. They have hosted multiple Pride parties at the Super Bowl, in conjunction with GLAAD. They’ve even released a video saying “Football is gay.” When Outsports announced its Power 100 last year, featuring influential LGBTQ people in American sports, a number of people across the NFL were included.

The work the NFL has done to bring women into the fold is even stronger. They’ve built an entire program — Women Officating Now — to attract women to officiating, just recently hiring their fourth full-time on-field female official, Karina Tovar. There are a number of women also working in the NFL Replay booth, including Desiree Abrams. There are women in the league front office and the front offices of teams across the NFL. 

Many young women have found themselves increasingly watching NFL games as well, with reports saying NFL fandom among women is higher than ever. Part of that is attributed to Taylor Swift dating Butker’s Chiefs teammate, Travis Kelce, and attending games, famously flying overnight from Japan to be at the Super Bowl.

Then along came Butker and a speech for the Middle Ages.

The cruel irony of Butker’s speech was quoting Swift herself — one of the richest working women in the world — before telling women they’ll be most happy ditching their career aspirations and instead serving their man, making him dinner and raising his babies.

Yet one of the worst outcomes of Butker’s speech has been the license some NFL fans now feel, after seeing his speech, to offer their support to him and his homophobic, misogynist opinions.

There are thousands of these messages on social media. The green light to belittle gay people and women has been seen by people across America.

And now his jersey sales are apparently increasing.

That’s in stark contrast to the understandable reactions from many women wondering if they’re allowed to watch NFL games, or if they should just be scrubbing the toilet instead.

It’s good the NFL front office has spoken out about this. 

Yet void in all of this is any comment from the Kansas City Chiefs. Given the team has actively sought to build their fanbase among women, it’s a dereliction of duty to not say something publicly. 

A player on their team said women will be most happy serving their man and making babies. He called LGBTQ Pride Month a “deadly sin.”

Silence about all of this really should not be an option.