Travis Kelce Responds to Teammate Harrison Butker's Controversial Commencement Speech

Travis Kelce discussed Harrison Butker's comments during his recent 'New Heights' podcast episode.

Travis Kelce Responds to Teammate Harrison Butker's Controversial Commencement Speech


6:46 AM PDT, May 24, 2024

Travis Kelce is finally weighing in on his teammate Harrison Butker’s controversial remarks made during a graduation speech.

In a recent episode of his popular New Heights podcast, the Kansas City Chiefs star tight end addressed the controversy surrounding his teammate following Butker’s commencement speech at Benedictine College earlier this month. 

Butker’s remarks, which included his views on the LGBTQIA+ community, IVF, and surrogacy as family planning methods, and advocating for women to prioritize stay-at-home roles over careers, ignited significant backlash.

While Kelce made it clear that he does not agree with Butker's ideologies, he emphasized his respect for Butker as a teammate and person.

"I know Harry and I saw him in the building. I call him Harry -- I might be the only person who calls him Harry," Kelce shared on the podcast episode released on Friday, May 24. "That just tells you, I mean, I’ve known him for seven-plus, eight-plus years and I cherish him as a 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."

Harrison Butker - ET

Kelce, 34, continued, "When it comes down to his views and what he said at the [Benedictine College] commencement speech, you know, those are his [views]. I can't say I agree with the majority of it -- or just about any of it-- outside of just him loving his family or his kids. I don’t think I should judge him by his views, especially his religious views of how he goes about life."

Reflecting on his own experiences, Kelce noted the diverse environment in which he was raised as influential in shaping his worldview.

"I think I grew up in a beautiful upbringing of different social classes, different religions, races, and ethnicities in Cleveland Heights -- and that’s why I love Cleveland Heights for what it was," Kelce said. "It showed me a broad view of just a lot of different walks of life and I appreciated every single one of those people for different reasons and I never once had to feel like I had to judge them based on their beliefs."

Travis Kelce, Donna Kelce - Steve Granitz/FilmMagic

Kelce credited his parents, Donna and Ed Kelce, for fostering a supportive and open-minded upbringing. "My household, my mother and my father, both provided for our family, and [they] both made home what it was," Kelce noted. "And they were unbelievable at being present every single day of my life. I think that was a beautiful upbringing for me. Now, I don't think everyone should do it the way that my parents did, but I certainly thank my parents and love [them] for providing and making sure that home was what it was because I’m not the same person without them being who they were in my life."

Earlier this week Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes defended Butker, describing him as a "great person."

Mahomes emphasized his support for Butker's character while distancing himself from the content of Butker's comments.

"I know Harrison. I’ve known Harrison for seven years and I judge him by the character that he shows every single day and that’s a good person," the three-time Super Bowl champion told reporters on Wednesday in Kansas City. "That's someone who cares about the people around him, cares about his family, and wants to make a good impact on society."

The 28-year-old highlighted the diversity of perspectives within an NFL team, noting the importance of respecting differing opinions.

"When you're in the locker room, there's a lot of people from a lot of different areas of life," Mahomes said. “There’s certain things that he said I don’t necessarily agree with but I understand the person that he is and he’s trying to do whatever he can to lead people in the right direction."

"And that might not be the same values I have," he added. "But at the same time, I’m going to judge him by the character that he shows every single day and that’s a great person."

While the Chiefs declined to comment on Butker's commencement address, former Kansas City commissioner Justice Horn slammed the address on social media

"Harrison Butker doesn't represent Kansas City nor has he ever. Kansas City has always been a place that welcomes, affirms, and embraces our LGBTQ+ community members," he wrote on X (formerly Twitter).

In their response, the Benedictine nuns said, "Our community has taught young women and men not just how to be 'homemakers' in a limited sense, but rather how to make a Gospel-centered, compassionate home within themselves where they can welcome others as Christ, empowering them to be the best versions of themselves. We reject a narrow definition of what it means to be Catholic. We are faithful members of the Catholic Church who embrace and promote the values of the Gospel, St. Benedict, and Vatican II and the teachings of Pope Francis."

Harrison Butker - Perry Knotts/Getty Images

"We want to be known as an inclusive, welcoming community, embracing Benedictine values that have endured for more than 1500 years and have spread through every continent and nation. We believe those values are the core of Benedictine College," they continued. "We thank all who are supportive of our Mount community and the values we hold. With St. Benedict, we pray, 'Let us prefer nothing whatever to Christ, and may he lead us all together to life everlasting.'"

The NFL shared a statement via Jonathan Beane, the league's senior vice president and chief diversity and inclusion officer.

"Harrison Butker gave a speech in his personal capacity," Beane told ET in a 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."