Hail to The Chiefs! The palindrome date, O2-02-2020, will long be remembered in KC. What an amazing fourth quarter, third consecutive playoff double-digit comeback, and unbelievable season for the Super Bowl Champions!
Among the many highlights of this dream season, behind Andy Reid’s genius, Tyreek Hill’s speed, Travis Kelce’s strength, Damien Williams’ explosiveness, Patrick Mahomes’ magic, and the team’s never-give-up attitude, was the NFL’s top scorer, Harrison Butker, a cool, Catholic, clutch kicker. He is also an incredible role model for young seekers who desire faith, a grasp of mystery, and the destiny of God’s kingdom.
In various interviews that you can review online, Butker speaks about his search for meaning and for God, a search that accompanied his growing up years. Recalling how he seemed to be a different person in different situations, he was one way as a son or brother, another as a friend among classmates, another as a soccer or football player, another as a weekday scholar, another as a weekend party-boy, another as a Catholic… He realized that there are other aspects of self beyond the physical, material realm; and his inquisitive nature beckoned him to explore his spiritual persona as well. Many of us can relate to his interest in gaining glimpses of the bigger picture and comprehension of how God accompanies us along our personal journey in life.
The long and short of it is that, in addition to being a bad-ass, butt-kicker, and co-captain of the world championship team, he is also a warrior for Christ, an emissary of faith, and example for any who want to be rooted in the mystery of God’s presence in our earthly existence. During his school days, he became intrigued by an older teammate who was energized by faith and genuinely interested in other people, when most students are influenced by more shallow matters and interested primarily in themselves. This teammate-friend impacted Harrison in ways that made him want to focus his life on higher things. As he thought about what he believed and compared religions, his friend encouraged him to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Similar to an episode in Pope Francis’ life when he was a teenager, the sacramental encounter changed Harrison’s life. He emerged desiring to adjust some behaviors, habits, and patterns in his life.
Though a Super Bowl victory is unforgettable and monumental, especially in the 100th year of the NFL and 50th anniversary of the Chiefs’ last Super Bowl victory, I suspect he will keep it in perspective with other facets of his life—a life no longer fragmented. His vocation as a husband, father, and Christian servant of God shapes his other roles, even the one he is most known for now on the football field. He may be uncomfortable with the role of hero but he certainly influences many children to use their gifts and talents for the glory of God and helps people recognize the greater purpose of our earthly existence. Amidst the strange numbers of Super Bowl LIV, it may be appropriate that he wears “7” on his jersey. Seven is viewed in salvation history as the number of perfection in this imperfect world that was made in seven days and in a church that administers seven Sacraments. Seven is shaped so that one line runs vertical, reaching up toward heaven, and the other turns horizontal, reaching out to humanity—not unlike the horizontal and vertical bars of a goal post or the cross.
As an overjoyed and grateful fan of The Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs and a team member of the Catholic Church, I am appreciative of #7 and the ways in which he reminds us of important aspects of religion and faith. Among the many heroes of the 2019 Chiefs’ team, Butker is one who can help kids that feel fragmented to accept and understand their multi-dimensional selves, rooted as one in God. Rather than being pulled in various directions, each can be unified as God’s child. As Chiefs’ Kingdom rejoices with gratitude and happiness, the Lord smiles down from the heavenly Kingdom upon those who give Him glory. Our celebration in Kansas City this week can’t compare to the celebration that awaits in the Kingdom of God.