Chiefs’ Harrison Butker Told Georgia Tech Grads to ‘Get Married and Start a Family’ in 2023 Speech

Harrison Butker Previously Told Georgia Tech Grads to Get Married and Start a Family
Harrison Butker Robin Alam/ISI Photos/Getty Images
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One year before Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker sparked controversy with his commencement speech at Benedictine College, he spoke about the importance of marriage at another graduation ceremony.

While addressing the graduates at his alma mater Georgia Tech in May 2023, Butker, 28, spoke about the “sense of loneliness, anxiety and depression” plaguing young people “despite technology that has connected us more than ever before,” per the Kansas City Star.

He offered “one controversial antidote” to the problem: “Get married and start a family.”

Butker then pointed to his wedding ring, saying it was more important than the Super Bowl rings he’s won with the Chiefs.

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“The truth is none of these accomplishments mean anything compared to the happiness I have found in my marriage and in starting a family,” he said. “My confidence as a husband and father, and yes, even as a football player is rooted in my marriage with my wife, [Isabelle Butker], as we leave our mark on future generations by the children we bring into the world. How much greater of a legacy can anyone leave than that?”

Harrison also bemoaned “freedom of thought” being “replaced by a culture built on cancellations for those who disagree” and “the lies being sold about self-dependence and prioritizing our career over important relationships.”

The athlete has since raised eyebrows for his speech at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, on Saturday, May 11. Rather than speaking about his own experience with marriage as he did at Georgia Tech, he singled out the women graduates.

“For the ladies present today, congratulations on an amazing accomplishment,” he said. “You should be proud of all that you have achieved to this point in your young lives. I want to speak directly to you briefly because I think it is you, the women, who have had the most diabolical lies told to you.”

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Harrison said he would “venture to guess” that the “majority” of the female graduates present were “most excited about your marriage and the children you will bring into this world” as opposed to “all the promotions and titles you’re going to get in your career.”

He went on to praise his wife for embracing “one of the most important titles of all: homemaker” and claimed Isabelle “would be the first to say that her life truly started when she began living her vocation as a wife and as a mother.”

Harrison also blamed the “pervasiveness of disorder” in society for “things like abortion, IVF, surrogacy, euthanasia as well as a growing support for degenerate cultural values and media.”

Elsewhere in his speech, Harrison quoted a lyric from Taylor Swift’s song “Bejeweled,” referring to the singer as “my teammate’s girlfriend.” (Swift, 34, has been dating Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce since summer 2023.)

“As my teammate’s girlfriend says, ‘familiarity breeds contempt,’” he said while discussing Catholic priests becoming “overly familiar” with laypeople.

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The NFL has since distanced itself from Harrison’s remarks.

“Harrison Butker gave a speech in his personal capacity,” Jonathan Beane, the NFL’s Senior Vice President and Chief Diversity & Inclusion officer said in a statement to People on Wednesday, May 15. “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.”

Stars have also reacted to the speech, including proud Swiftie Flavor Flav, who wrote via X on Tuesday, May 14, that “some players ‘need to stay in their lanes’ and shouldn’t be giving commencement speeches.’”

The tweet referenced a moment from Harrison’s address, when he said he planned to use his platform to “preach more hard truths about accepting your lane and staying in it.”