Harrison Butker, KC Chiefs visit White House weeks after kicker criticized Biden's abortion stance

NFL Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs team kicker Harrison Butker (center) joins his teammates for a celebration on the South Lawn of the White House on May 31, 2024 in Washington, D.C. President Biden hosted the Chiefs to honor their 2024 Super Bowl win.
NFL Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs team kicker Harrison Butker (center) joins his teammates for a celebration on the South Lawn of the White House on May 31, 2024 in Washington, D.C. President Biden hosted the Chiefs to honor their 2024 Super Bowl win. | Andrew Harnik/Getty Images

Kicker Harrison Butker was among those on the Kansas City Chiefs welcomed to the White House on Friday, with President Joe Biden hosting the Super Bowl LVIII champions for the second consecutive year.

The celebration comes weeks after Butker, an outspoken Catholic, criticized Biden during a May 11 Catholic college commencement speech for his support for abortion despite being a professing Catholic. Butker's comments on motherhood and LGBT issues also drew the ire of many nationwide. 

The annual celebration is usually a light-hearted affair but drew unique media attention this year as the kicker has become somewhat of a focal point in ongoing cultural debates.

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Amid a heated election year, President Biden joked: "The Kansas City Chiefs, the first team in 20 years to win back-to-back — winning back-to-back, I kind of like that."

"I know you had a future hall-of-famer head coach, quarterback, tight end, defensive tackle, but I think the secret to this team is the [general manager], offensive coordinator, passing-game coordinator," Biden said. "They all came from a great school, my alma mater, the University of Deleware."

The Chiefs secured their third NFL title in five years by defeating the San Francisco 49ers 25-22 on Feb. 11 in Las Vegas.

Addressing the potential fallout from Butker's speech, Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocey said on the "Don't @ Me with Dan Dakich" show that while Butker's remarks irritated some people who cover the White House, they did not seem to disturb the White House itself.

"But it definitely irritated some people who cover the White House, because when the White House addressed it, the question [from a reporter] was something like, 'Is Biden going to withdraw his invitation to the Chiefs because of Harrison Butker's speech?' Which, we've heard people say very extreme political things — mostly the other way — and the invitations don't just get pulled, and it didn't," Doocey said.

Butker's headlines stem from his speech at Benedictine College, where he criticized the Biden administration's stance on issues like abortion and the COVID-19 pandemic. He told women in the audience that its OK for them to look forward to motherhood even if they want to have a career. 

"I think it is you, the women, who have had the most diabolic lies told to you," Butker said. "Some of you may go on to lead successful careers in the world, but I 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's speech also addressed IVF, surrogacy, euthanasia and what he described as "degenerate cultural values."

He urged graduates to align their lives more closely with God's will, using his wife, Isabelle, as an example of finding fulfillment in traditional roles.

"Isabelle's dream of having a career might not have come true, but if you ask her today if she has any regrets on her decision, she would laugh out loud without hesitation and say 'heck no,'" Butker told the audience.

During the White House event, star quarterback Patrick Mahomes and tight end Travis Kelce were prominent figures.

Kelce, in a light-hearted moment, joked about the risk of approaching the microphone, saying, "My fellow Americans, it's nice to see you all yet again. I'm not going to lie, President Biden, they told me if I came up here I'd get tased, so I'm going back to my spot."

During last year's visit, Biden joked about first lady Jill Biden's fervent support for the Philadelphia Eagles. Kelce briefly took over the microphone before quarterback Patrick Mahomes swiftly intervened, The Washington Post noted.

Mahomes, Kelce and head coach Andy Reid have publicly defended Butker amid the backlash, stressing he is free to express his own opinions even if they may not agree. Mahomes said he judges Butker by the "character that he shows every single day," which is a "good person."

This year's ceremony was also marked by a playful interaction. The players encouraged Biden to don a Chiefs helmet. 

Last Friday, Butker spoke at a gala fundraiser for the Regina Coeli Academy, a classical homeschool hybrid model that offers an accredited curriculum for pre-K through 12th grade, of which he is a board member.

“The theme of tonight’s gala — Courage Under Fire — was decided many months ago, but it now feels providential that this would be the theme after what we have all witnessed these past few weeks,” Butker said in the speech. “If it wasn’t clear that the timeless Catholic values are hated by many, it is now.”

“At the outset, many people expressed a shocking level of hate. But as the days went on, even those who disagreed with my viewpoints shared their support for my freedom of religion,” he added. “In my seven years in the NFL, I have become familiar with the positive and negative comments. But the majority of them revolved around my performance on the field. But as to be expected, the more I’ve talked about what I value most, which is my Catholic faith, the more polarizing I’ve become.”

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