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The Chiefs would not be back-to-back Super Bowl Champions after Super Bowl LVII on Feb. 11, 2024, without one player’s key performance: The game’s high scorer, kicker Harrison Butker.
Commentators are talking about the Chiefs’ defense, which was extraordinary. They are talking about quarterback Patrick Mahomes and tight end Travis Kelce, who were critical. But place kickers in football are in the unenviable position of getting a lot of blame when they miss, but only part of the credit when they are 100% accurate, as Butker has been in Super Bowls.
Catholics are talking about him, though. “All Chiefs fans are proud of Harrison Butker, but especially Catholics,” said Benedictine College President Stephen D. Minnis, who has hosted Butker at the school’s Atchison, Kansas, campus, including when Bishop Robert Barron visited (pictured). “We love the story of his faith and the commitment he has shown to his family and our students.”
Not only were Butker’s points necessary for the win, but Butker made history in the Super Bowl. Not only did he kick the longest field goal in Super Bowl history at 57 yards — but no one had ever even attempted that distance in a Super Bowl, reported the “NFL on CBS” YouTube channel. Butker now has kicked the most Super Bowl field goals in NFL history, with nine — passing the celebrated kickers Adam Vinatieri (Patriots, Colts) and Stephen Gostkowski (Patriots).
Butker’s faith was the focus of Catholics before the game.
Benedictine College theologian Andrew Swafford is a Scripture scholar who worked on the Ascension Adventure Bible and whose newest book is about the Old Testament. But he’s also a former college football player who knows the Butker family personally.
“All I can say is that he is the real deal; he is who you think he is: a devout Catholic and an absolute gentleman, exceedingly down to earth,” he said. “I was particularly struck by the time he made to have conversations with each one of our kids. He’s an easy one to root for, to say the least.”
Butker “sees his role on the football field as an aspect of his larger mission in life, as a Catholic disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ. As talented and successful as he is, football is just one aspect of how he sees himself and why he’s here, as a disciple, husband, and father,” Swafford said.
The kicker spoke at the 2023 commencement of his alma mater Georgia Tech, where he told students his advice: “get married and start a family.”
“Sadly, we are encouraged to live our lives for ourselves, to move from one thing to another with no long-term commitment. To have loyalty for nothing but ourselves and sacrifice only when it suits our own interests. This loneliness is rooted in the lies being sold about self-dependence and prioritizing our career over important relationships.”
It’s extraordinary that he can back that kind of message up with a high level of athletic performance, said Swafford. He described the high stakes kickers face: “With the game virtually stopped, you’re called upon to execute under an immense amount of pressure, with everybody watching. Butker’s consistency and range is amazing.”
Maybe Patrick Mahomes said it best: “Harrison Butker, he saved us, man.”