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.
(Story continues below)
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
At Catholic News Agency, our team is committed to reporting the truth with courage, integrity, and fidelity to our faith. We provide news about the Church and the world, as seen through the teachings of the Catholic Church. When you subscribe to the CNA UPDATE, we'll send you a daily email with links to the news you need and, occasionally, breaking news.
As part of this free service you may receive occasional offers from us at EWTN News and EWTN. We won't rent or sell your information, and you can unsubscribe at any time.
Jonah McKeown is a staff writer and podcast producer for Catholic News Agency. He holds a Master’s Degree from the University of Missouri School of Journalism and has worked as a writer, as a producer for public radio, and as a videographer. He is based in St. Louis.