Chiefs’ Kicker Harrison Butker to Give Commencement Speech at Benedictine College

Butker, who offered advice last year at his alma mater, Georgia Tech, is known not only for setting NFL records but also for being outspoken about his Catholic faith.

Harrison Butker on the sideline of the AFC Championship in Baltimore on Jan. 28, 2024.
Harrison Butker on the sideline of the AFC Championship in Baltimore on Jan. 28, 2024. (photo: Public domain / Wikimedia Commons)

Harrison Butker, the three-time Super Bowl-winning kicker for the Kansas City Chiefs football team, will be the keynote speaker at this year’s commencement at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, the school announced Tuesday.

At the May 11 ceremony, the college will also recognize Lt. Gen. Arthur Gregg, who graduated from the college in 1964 (when it was St. Benedict’s College) and recently became the first Black man and first living person to have a U.S. military base named after him, according to a press release from the school.

Butker, whose advice as last year’s graduation speaker at his alma mater, Georgia Tech, was to “get married and start a family,” is known not only for setting NFL records but also for being outspoken about his Catholic faith.

In addition to his devotion to the traditional Latin Mass, Butker, a 28-year-old father of two, frequently promotes his pro-life convictions as well as the importance of marriage and family life, often emphasizing the importance of prioritizing his vocation as a husband and father.

In an interview with EWTN News reporter Mark Irons on EWTN News In Depth last month, Butker said he wanted to encourage men, especially fathers, to “be courageous, to not be afraid to be the leader.”

“It’s something that we struggle with, I think, a lot of times: to go outside of our comfort zone and to say, ‘You know what? God has called me to be a leader and to lead by example. I’m going to lead my household, and I’m going to lead outside the world when I’m evangelizing.’ So that’s something that I’m very passionate about,” Butker said.

“I think Our Lord needs to be King,” Butker continued. “He needs to be front and center. And as Catholics, we have to be unapologetically proud of our faith and of Jesus Christ.”

After learning that the victim of a fatal shooting during the Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl victory parade in February, a Catholic mother of two, was wearing his No. 7 jersey at the time she was shot, Butker gave one of his own jerseys to the family and they buried her in it.

Butker also garnered headlines during the 2023 Super Bowl when fans noticed he was wearing a scapular — a brown woolen sacramental from the Carmelite tradition, worn around the neck as a sign of consecration to Mary.

The Chiefs became back-to-back Super Bowl champions after defeating the San Francisco 49ers 25-22 in Super Bowl LVIII on Feb. 11. In the game, Butker kicked a 57-yard field goal, setting the record for the longest field goal ever made in a Super Bowl. He also made headlines after Super Bowl LVII in 2023 by kicking the game-winning field goal.

This year’s commencement will not be Butker’s first visit to Benedictine College, which is approximately 50 miles northwest of Kansas City. He has visited the school several times to discuss “faith, family and football, in that order,” with faculty and students.

“We are excited to introduce Harrison Butker and Lt. Gen. Gregg to our graduating seniors this May,” Benedictine College President Stephen Minnis said in the press release. “These students missed their high school graduations due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so we wanted to make it up to them with a truly memorable commencement experience.”

Gregg, 95, was the first African American to reach the rank of lieutenant general in the U.S. Army. He commanded the 96th Quartermaster Direct Support Battalion, one of the largest battalions in Vietnam, for which he received the Meritorious Unit Citation. In 1977, he became the director of logistics for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He retired in 1981 after more than 30 years of service in the Army. In 2023, Fort Lee in Virginia was renamed Fort Gregg-Adams in his honor, along with that of Lt. Col. Charity Adams Earley, who served as the highest-ranking Black female officer during World War II.

CNA staff writer Jonah McKeown contributed to this story.