NFL head Roger Goodell responds to Harrison Butker’s opening remarks: NPR

Harrison Butker, wearing a red Chiefs uniform and helmet, is pictured during a match.

Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker, pictured during a game in December 2023, sparked conversation and controversy earlier this month with his commencement speech at Benedictine University in Kansas.

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Reed Hoffmann/AP

Harrison Butker’s controversial opening speech — and reaction — continues to dominate the off-field conversation, with key figures in the NFL weighing in publicly for the first time this week.

The Kansas City Chiefs kicker stirred up a culture skirmish with his remarks at Benedictine University earlier this month, in which he denounced abortion rights, Pride Month, the ban lockdown due to COVID-19, “dangerous gender ideology” and “the tyranny of diversity, equity and inclusion,” while encouraging female graduates to embrace the “profession” of homemaking, all in just 20 minutes.

The speech has since grossed nearly 2 million views on YouTuberesonated with some soccer fans and conservative public figures, incl Missouri Senator Josh Hawley. Butker’s online jersey sales skyrocketed, becoming Chiefs bestseller.

But the speech drew widespread criticism from many corners of the Internet, including some. Current students and alumni of Catholic liberal arts college, one affiliated order of nunsKansas City officials and fans of Taylor Swift, whom Butker cited in the speech as “mine.” teammate’s girlfriend.”

The The NFL distanced itself from Butker’s comments in a brief statement last week, saying he made them “in his personal capacity” and “his views are not the views of the NFL as an organization.”

“The NFL is steadfast in our commitment to inclusion, which only makes our league stronger,” it added.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell echoed that idea when speaking to reporters Wednesday.

“We have over 3,000 players,” Goodell said, according to Yahoo Sports and Related press. “We have executives across the league who have diverse perspectives and thoughts just like America. I think that’s something that we appreciate and I think that’s part of what ultimately makes our society better.”

But some social media users have Quick contrastGoodell’s comment withreaction to others high-level controversy involves a football player exercising his right to self-expression: the right of the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

When it comes to players’ self-expression, some say there is a double standard

Kaepernick, who is biracial, began sitting on the bench during the national anthem during the 2016 preseason to protest what he called “the injustices happening in America.”

He continued to kneel during the national anthem for the rest of the season, inspiring several other players but drawing criticism from many — including then-President Donald Trump — who accused he is anti-American.

Goodell complaining about Trump’s comments as showing an “unfortunate lack of respect” for the player but also offered similar criticism of Kaepernick’s protest.

“I think it’s important that they see the things they want to change in society and clearly we have things that can get better in society and we should get better,” Goodell said in your article. First public comment about the 2016 protests. “But we have to choose ways to do it respectfully so that we can achieve the end results we want and do it with the values ​​and ideals that have been make our country great.”

The following year, as the number of players taking a knee—and the backlash against them—increased, Goodell told NFL teams in a memo that “everyone should stand” during the national anthem.

“The National Anthem controversy is a barrier to having honest conversations and making real progress on fundamental issues,” he wrote. “We need to overcome this controversy and we want to do it together with our players.”

Kaepernick opted out of his contract with the 49ers in the spring of 2017 but was not subsequently signed by any NFL team, which led his supporters to accuse the league owners of Take him out because of his political beliefs. Kaepernick alleged the same thing in a complaint against the NFL later that year, which he withdrew following a 2019 settlement.

Colin Kaepernick spoke Tuesday at the Gordon Parks Foundation for the Arts and Social Justice dinner in New York City.

Colin Kaepernick spoke Tuesday at an arts and social justice awards dinner in New York City.

Noam Galai/Getty Images for Gordon Park Foundation

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Noam Galai/Getty Images for Gordon Park Foundation

He hasn’t played professionally since then but has continue your career as a civil rights activist and author.

In June 2020, when protests against racial injustice and police brutality rocked America, and then players are called up to the NFL Speak up, Goodell released a video statement condemned racism and acknowledged the federation’s shortcomings in that area.

“We, the National Football League, acknowledge that we were wrong in not listening to NFL players sooner and encourage all to speak out and protest peacefully,” he said, without naming names. Kaepernick.

Goodell duplicated in a series of comments that summer, including encouraging an NFL team to sign Kaepernick as a free agent and publicly apologizing.

“I wish we had listened earlier, Kaep, to what you were kneeling and what you were trying to bring attention to,” he said.

On Wednesday, users X (formerly Twitter) and op-ed writer called Goodell’s Hypocritical comments And wondered aloud What does Kaepernick think about them? Some acknowledged that their situations were different, as Kaepernick protested in uniform during games while Butker spoke off the field.

Kaepernick has not commented publicly on Butker’s speech or Goodell’s response.

Last week, when the controversy over Butker’s comments erupted, View mode co-host Whoopi Goldberg he said Butker and Kaepernick deserve equal respect for expressing their opinions.

“These are his beliefs and he welcomes them,” she said of Butker. “I don’t have to believe them, I don’t have to accept them, those women in the audience don’t have to accept them.

“The same way we want to be respected when Colin Kaepernick took a knee, we want to respect people who have different ideas than us because the person who said he wanted to be president… he said that’s how to act. is to take away people’s rights.” to say how they feel. We don’t want to be like that, we don’t want to be those people.”

Several Chiefs leaders have also spoken out in support of Butker

More members of the Chiefs acknowledged the controversy Wednesday, coming to Butker’s defense.

Star midfielder Patrick Mahomes told reporters, “There are some things he said that I don’t necessarily agree with but I understand… he’s trying to do whatever he can to lead people in the right direction.”

He added that he had known Butker for seven years and considered him a good person.

“I judge him by the character he shows every day,” he said. “That is someone who cares about the people around them, cares about their family and wants to make a good impact on society.”

Headman Head coach Andy Reid also refers to the answer to the speech, although staying away from its content. He said he didn’t talk to Butker about it because “I didn’t think we needed to.”

“We are a microcosm of life,” he said of the group. “People come from different regions, different religions, different races, and so we all get along, we respect each other’s opinions and don’t necessarily follow those opinions, but we respect everyone to have a voice… My wish is that everyone can have their own voice.” can follow that.”


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