Popular Actress Defends Harrison Butker: 'He's Not A Monster'

By Jason Hall

May 20, 2024

Super Bowl LVIII - Super Bowl LVIII Opening Night
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Everybody Loves Raymond actress Patricia Heaton defended Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker following his controversial comments taking aim at working women, the LGBTQ+ community and abortion rights during a recent graduation ceremony at Benedictine College.

Heaton, 66, a devout Catholic who acknowledged that she worked as an actress through her kids' childhood, said she found "nothing offensive" about Butker's comments, despite noting that he may "look at my life and say that's not the way it should be."

“So what? It’s his opinion. He can have one,” Heaton said. “He’s not a monster for stating what he believes.

“He went after bishops much more than he went after women, or what women’s choices are, or what he thinks they should be — so, I don’t understand.”

Chiefs heiress Gracie Hunt had previously praised Butker when asked about her family's reaction to his comments during an appearance on the FOX News morning program FOX & Friends.

“I can only speak from my own experience, which is I had the most incredible mom who had the ability to stay home and be with us as kids growing up,” Hunt said. “And I understand that there are many women out there who can’t make that decision but for me in my life, I know it was really formative in shaping me and my siblings to be who we are.”

"So you understand what he was talking about" host Steve Doocy asked.

“For sure, and I really respect Harrison and his Christian faith and what he’s accomplished on and off the field," Hunt responded.

The NFL publicly condemned Butker's comments amid growing backlash last week.

“Harrison Butker gave a speech in his personal capacity,” said Jonathan Beane, the NFL’s senior vice president and chief diversity and inclusion officer, in a written 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.”

Butker, a three-time Super Bowl champion, quoted a song by Taylor Swift, the billionaire pop superstar girlfriend of teammate Travis Kelce, before taking aim at what he claimed were "diabolical lies told to women," and the LGBTQ+ community -- which Swift has publicly been an outspoken ally for -- claiming Pride Month represented "deadly sins," as well as abortion, in vitro fertilization, surrogacy, President Joe Biden and what he referred to as "the cultural emasculation of men."

"For the ladies present today, congratulations on an amazing accomplishment," Butker said. "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."

“Some of you may go on to lead successful careers in the world, but I would venture to guess that the majority of you are most excited about your marriage and the children you will bring into this world," he added.

Butker was drafted by the Carolina Panthers at No. 233 overall in the seventh-round of the 2017 NFL Draft, but was waived early in his rookie season and signed by the Chiefs off the Panthers' practice squad on September 26, 2017. The former Georgia Tech standout has emerged as one of the NFL's best kickers, kicking a game-winning field goal during Kansas City's Super Bowl LVII win against the Philadelphia Eagles, setting a career record for field goals in the Super Bowl (9) during his four appearances and making the longest field goal in Super Bowl history during the Chiefs' win against the San Francisco 49ers in February and leading the NFL in scoring during the 2019 regular season.

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