CNA Newsroom, Feb 25, 2023 / 07:02 am (CNA).
Even though Harrison Butker kicked the winning field goal in what he described as “one of the best Super Bowls ever played,” football doesn’t define the Kansas City Chiefs player’s life.
“I want to be a saint. And that’s the most important thing, and that’s why I’m here on this earth,” Butker recently told EWTN News In Depth’s Colm Flynn.
“I’m not just making kicks so that I can make money and I can puff myself up as this great person that people want to be like one day. I’m making kicks because God wants me to have a platform, at least for right now, to share this message of faith, of growing in virtue, of growing closer to the sacraments and of being a saint.”
Butker, 27, is outspoken about his Catholic faith, his pro-life convictions, and his devotion to the Traditional Latin Mass, where he frequently served at the altar before becoming a father. In an interview with CNA in 2022, Butker said he believes the traditional Mass “really entices a lot of young people who are looking for answers. They’re looking for happiness. And for me, I found happiness in embracing the faith offered in the Catholic Church.”
Butker earlier this month made the game-winning kick for the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LVII. With the score even at 35-35 and seconds remaining in the game, Butker’s kick gave the Chiefs the lead over the Philadelphia Eagles, 38-35. The Chiefs secured their second Super Bowl win in four years.
When asked about the future, the father of three noted that his teammates “notice that I am happiest when I am with my family.”
“I envision my life with my wife and having lots of children and being saints. That’s what I envision. I don’t really envision myself being in the Hall of Fame, winning more Super Bowls, getting x, y, and z records, getting that contract. It’s just not something I really think about… all of my fantasies, you could say are all for my family and for my children,” Butker said.
During the Super Bowl, many on social media were quick to point out that during the game he was wearing what appeared to be a brown scapular around his neck, a sacramental from the Carmelite tradition that anyone can wear as a sign of their devotion to Mary.
Chief’s Kicker Harrison Butker (and TLM altar server) wearing a scapular. pic.twitter.com/GgAFn6aUII
— Father V (@father_rmv) February 13, 2023
In his interview with EWTN News In Depth, Butker said he has been wearing the brown scapular since college, but never wore it during games until after his injury earlier this season. He said the example of a teammate, fellow Catholic Leo Chenal, helped to convince him to start wearing it during games.
He also said he didn’t intend for the scapular to pop out of his jersey during his game-winning kick, but the fact that it did and that numerous people on social media noticed it provided a “great witness.”
“Wow, if Harrison Butcher is wearing a brown scapular, maybe I should look into it,” he said.
Butker says he stays off of social media entirely but has not gotten “any negative feedback to my face, at least from teammates or coaches” about his Catholic and pro-life views.
EWTN News In Depth spoke to Butker while the player was on a retreat at St. Michael’s Abbey in Orange County, California. When asked if he planned to travel and party during the offseason, as many of his fellow teammates are doing, Butker asked “if that’s not going to glorify God, if that’s not going to get us closer to sainthood, then why are we doing it?” During his off-season, he said he plans to take time with his family and, of course, to spend time in prayer.
Amid the money and fame that comes with being a professional athlete, especially a successful one, Butker says daily prayer and meditation on God’s grace help him to stay grounded and remind himself that he is ultimately “ashes…dust.”
“I don’t allow [the fame] to get to my head and change the way I view myself, because I’m a child of God. I’m a sinner. I need a savior, I need Jesus, I need the sacraments, and prayer grounds me. And then, again, always coming back to my vocation and knowing that that job is way more important than kicking a football.”
Butker’s game-deciding field goal looked effortless, despite a miss earlier in the game. In the first quarter, Butker’s 42-yard field goal attempt ricocheted off of the left goal post, resulting in a missed opportunity to give the Chiefs an early lead.
“When I got to the second half, the fourth quarter, I’m thinking about the three points that I left out there on the field. But I had to remind myself, this is all part of God’s plan. I think I did everything that week leading up to do my best during the game. I’m locked in, doing everything I know how to perform well, and the kick didn’t go in for whatever reason,” Butker said.
When asked about that final kick, Butker said it felt like the culmination of a plan God set in motion at the start of the football season.
“Selfishly, I was so thankful that that went through — but I immediately thought, ‘Wow, this is such a beautiful plan that God had in store from week one.’ Getting injured, missing four games, coming back, missing some big kicks for the first time really in my career, but understanding that this suffering is a way for me to grow in virtue, to grow in my faith. And I felt like I battled through,” Butker said.
Butker said he typically prays a Hail Mary as he runs out onto the field before a kick.
“Praying is something I always do on the sideline to remember that, yes, football is so important, but it’s not the most important thing. I need to calm down. Number one, it’s good to realize I’m a child of God. Think about my life outside of this world, think about my beautiful wife, my children, and then think about the talent that God has given me. And I have this opportunity on this massive stage to glorify Him. Me thinking about the what ifs, if I miss this, if I make that make the kick, that’s not going to help me succeed and glorify Him. So I try to just kind of get in my own bubble,” Butker said.
“Whether God wants me to make it, whether he wants me to miss it, I want his will to be done because his plan is always going to be better than mine,” he said.
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