Travis Kelce Shares First Thoughts on Controversial Harrison Butker Speech

The Chiefs tight end publicly addressed his teammate's comments for the first time.
Travis Kelce
Travis Kelce / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
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The Kansas City Chiefs gathered in town for OTAs this week, which means it was time to publicly address the controversial commencement speech given by kicker Harrison Butker at Benedictine College. The opinions Butker shared on gender roles and women's empowerment have led to an outpouring of criticism and it's gotten to be a big enough talking point that the faces of the Chiefs franchise had to comment.

Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid did so earlier this week. Both had essentially the same response-- that they may not personally agree with Butker's views, but an NFL team is chock-full of conflicting opinions and it's important to respect them all. On Friday, it was Travis Kelce's turn.

The All-Pro tight end discussed his teammate's comments on the latest episode of his New Heights podcast across from his brother, Jason. Kelce said while he disagrees with most, if not all, of what Butker said, he will not judge him for it. Then he got into how he was raised and how that shapes his view on the situation.

Here's audio of the segment in which Kelce addresses the comments, with the relevant parts transcribed below.

"I've known (Butker) for seven-plus, eight-plus years. I cherish him as a teammate. I think Pat (Mahomes) said it best, where he is every bit of a great person and a great teammate. He's treated friends and family 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, what he said at (Benedictine College) commencement speech, those are his. I can't say I agree with the majority of it, or just about any of it outside of just him loving his family and his kids. I don't think that I should judge him by his views , especially his religious views, of how to go about life. That's just not who I am.

"I grew up in a beautiful upbringing of different social classes, different religions, different races and ethnicities in Cleveland Heights. That's why I loved Cleveland Heights for what it was. It showed me a broad spectrum, a broad view of a lot of different walks of life. I appreciated every single one of those people for different reasons and I never once had to feel like I needed to judge them based off their beliefs.

"My household? My mother and my father both provided for our family. Both my mother and my father made home what it was. They were homemakers and they were providers and they were unbelievable at being present every single day in my life. I think that was a beautiful upbringing for me. I don't think everyone should do it the way my parents did, but I certainly and sure as hell thank my parents and love my parents for being able to provide and making sure that home was what it was."

There was always going to be a much more significant spotlight on Kelce concerning this topic than anyone else because he is dating Taylor Swift, perhaps the most famous woman in the world right now who is also one of the most successful musicians of all time. Obviously he did not sidestep the responsibility and addressing it on his podcast gave Kelce more freedom to discuss it openly than if he were in front of a dozen microphones at the Chiefs facility.

Not everybody will be happy with the way Kelce chose to go about it, but no one can accuse him of remaining silent.

Liam McKeone


Liam McKeone is a Senior Writer for the Breaking & Trending News Team at Sports Illustrated. In addition to his role as a writer, he collaborates with other teams across Minute Media to help define his team’s content strategy. He has been in the industry as a content creator since 2017, and prior to joining SI in 2024, Liam worked for NBC Sports Boston and The Big Lead. In addition to his work as a writer, he has hosted the Press Pass Podcast covering sports media and The Big Stream covering pop culture. A graduate of Fordham University, Liam is always up for a good debate and enjoys loudly arguing about sports, rap music, books, and video games. Liam has been a member of the National Sports Media Association (NSMA) since 2020.