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Travis Kelce joins Andy Reid, Patrick Mahomes in defending Harrison Butker, calls Chiefs kicker ‘great person’

The Kansas City Chiefs haven’t exactly stayed distraction-free in the months following their latest Super Bowl victory. Most recently, kicker Harrison Butker found himself in social-media crosshairs for the veteran’s polarizing commencement speech at Benedictine College. But star Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce became the latest teammate to defend Butker this week, addressing the kicker’s comments on a recent episode of his “New Heights” podcast.

“I’ve known him for seven-plus years probably, eight-plus years,” Kelce said. “And I cherish him as a teammate. I think (Patrick Mahomes) said it best: He is every bit … a great person and a great 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. When it comes down to his views and what he said at the …. commencement speech, those are his. I can’t say that I agree with the majority of it, or just about any of it outside of him loving his family and his kids, (but) I don’t think I should judge him by his views, especially his religious views, of how to go about life … I grew up in a beautiful upbringing of different social classes, different religions, different races and ethnicities. … Both my mother and my father made home what it was. So they were homemakers and they were providers.”

Kelce’s brother, Jason, had similar sentiments on the podcast.

“I (appreciated) teammates’ reactions with the Chiefs, Andy Reid’s reactions,” Kelce said. “You learn more about who people are with who they are on a daily basis. … A lot of the things he said are not things I align myself with, but he’s giving a commencement speech at a Catholic university and — shocker — it ended up being a very religious and Catholic speech.”

Among others, Butker’s comments drew the attention of the NFL office with commissioner Roger Goodell releasing the following statement last week, per Yahoo Sports: “Harrison Butker gave a speech in his personal capacity. 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.”

When asked again about Butker’s speech again Wednesday, Goodell explained the league has a “diversity of opinions.”

“We have over 3,000 players,” he said. “They have a diversity of opinions and thoughts just like America does. I think that’s something that we treasure and that’s part of ultimately what makes us as a society better.”

Those comments by Goodell were echoed by Reid and Mahomes, the Chiefs’ two most notable spokespeople, who defended the kicker Wednesday at Kansas City’s OTA session.

“I know Harrison,” Mahomes told reporters. “I’ve known him for seven years. And I judge him by the character that he shows every single day, and that’s a good person. That’s someone who cares about the people around him, cares about his family, and wants to make a good impact in society. 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 gonna 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’s trying to do whatever he can to try 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 gonna judge him by the values that he shows every day, and that’s a great person. … I know what kind of person he is, and I’m gonna make sure I look at that first.”

Reid piggybacked Mahomes’ stance, standing by the three-time Super Bowl champion kicker.

“I talk to Harrison all the time,” Reid said. “I didn’t talk to him about this. I didn’t think I needed to. We’re a microcosm of life here. We’re from different areas, different religions, different races. We all get along. We all respect each other’s opinions. And not necessarily do we go by those, but we respect everybody to have a voice. That’s a great thing about America, man. We’re just a microcosm of that, and I wish — my wish is that everybody could kinda follow that.”

Asked how he might respond to women working for the Chiefs who took umbrage to Butker’s comments, Reid dismissed the question, telling reporters that has not happened.

“I don’t think he was speaking ill to women,” Reid added. “But he has his opinions, and we all respect that. I let you guys in this room, and you have a lot of opinions that I don’t like.”

Butker initially received backlash — primarily on social media — after his wide-ranging May 11 speech, addressed to practicing Catholics, touched on a number of hot-button issues, including abortion and “degenerate cultural values.” The 28-year-old kicker notably argued that women have been told “diabolical lies” about prioritizing career advancement over motherhood, and suggested Pride Month celebrates a “deadly sin.” He also urged men to be more present — and “do hard things” — in and outside the home.

Butker, who is one of the NFL’s most accurate kickers of all time in terms of career field goal percentage, briefly saw his No. 7 jersey become one of the league’s top sellers after his remarks went viral.

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