KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Patrick Mahomes defended the character of Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker during the team’s opening week of OTAs on Wednesday and also offered words of encouragement for wide receiver Rashee Rice, who has been involved in two separate off-field incidents.

Butker became embroiled in controversy for comments he made while addressing female graduates during a 20-minute commencement address this month at Benedictine College.

During his speech, Butker addressed the women in the audience, at one point, saying they had “the most diabiolical lies” told to them and that while some may go on to lead successful careers, “the majority of you are most excited about your marriage and the children you will bring into this world.” Butker used his wife Isabelle as an example, saying she embraced “one of the most important titles of all: homemaker.”

Mahomes said he did not “necessarily agree with” several comments made by his teammate of seven years but chose to “judge him by the character that he shows every single day.”

“There’s certain things that he said that I don’t necessarily agree with, but I understand the person that he is, and he is trying to do whatever he can to lead people in the right direction,” Mahomes said of Butker. “And that might not be the same values as I have. But at the same time, I’m going to judge him by the character that he shows every single day. That’s a great person, and we’ll continue to move along and try to help build each other up to make ourselves better every single day.

“But at the end of the day, we’re going to come together as a team, and I think that’ll help out as eliminating those distractions outside of the building, as well.”

Teammate Travis Kelce, on the May 24 episode of his “New Heights” podcast that he hosts with his brother, Jason Kelce, agreed with Mahomes.

“I think Pat said it best where [Butker] is every bit of a great person and a great teammate,” Kelce said. “… When it comes down to his views and what he said at Saint Benedict’s commencement speech, those are his. I can’t say I agree with the majority of it or just about any of it outside of just him loving his family and his kids. And I don’t think that I should judge him by his views, especially his religious views, of how to go about life. That’s just not who I am.”

Chiefs coach Andy Reid said he speaks with Butker “all the time” but that he did not feel the need to address the kicker’s comments because “everybody’s got their own opinions.”

“We’re a microcosm of life,” Reid said. “Everybody is from different areas, different religions, different races. And so, we all get along, we all respect each other’s opinions — and not necessarily do we go by those, but we respect everybody to have a voice. [That’s the] great thing about America. And we’re just, like I said, a microcosm of that, and my wish is that everybody could kind of follow that.”

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell echoed Reid’s sentiments at the league’s spring meetings.

“Listen, we have over 3,000 players,” Goodell said. “We have executives around the league. They have a diversity of opinions and thoughts, just like America does. I think that’s something that we treasure and that’s part of, I think, ultimately what makes us as a society better.”

Rice, who has been present for the second phase of OTAs, practiced with the Chiefs on Wednesday.

Mahomes was asked how he and other Chiefs players would help the second-year wideout as he faces legal consequences for his involvement in a multiple vehicle car crash in Dallas last month as well as a separate incident in an alleged May 6 assault at a Dallas nightclub.

“I think it’s just trying to do whatever we can to teach him how to learn from his mistakes,” Mahomes said of Rice. “I mean, obviously, that was a big mistake. But you have to learn from it, make sure it doesn’t happen again and try to do whatever you can to be the best person you can be in society, not only for yourself but for the people around you. And I think he is doing that. But right now, we’re just going to keep trying to do whatever we can to get him on the right path so that he can be a great football player, obviously, but we want him to be a great person too.”


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