I get a kick out of the Chiefs and culture wars

A long time ago on a gridiron far, far away, the Kansas City Chiefs were just some pro football team whose biggest controversy was quarterback Len Dawson smoking a cigarette at halftime of Super Bowl I. 

Of course, back then, in 1967, Super Bowl tickets were just $12 and the stadium was only two-thirds full — probably because a third of the folks were lined up at the cigarette machines in the corridors while chugging their ice-cold Tab. Yes, folks smoked everywhere back then — on airplanes, in motel rooms, on television. Even Sheriff Andy Taylor smoked right there in the middle of Mayberry, and Aunt Bee didn’t even bother to smack him upside the head for setting a bad example for Opie … even though she was safe to do so because he famously didn’t carry a gun.

“I reckon if I need to kill a bad guy, I’ll just hand him a pack of cigarettes and let him do it slowly but surely,” the sheriff said in a classic episode. “Here you go, Ernest T! Put down that rock and smoke up!” (Season 4, episode 33)

My point is that times sure have changed. When I was a kid, I expected hotel rooms to stink and have at least four cigarette burn holes in the comforter. Today, hotel rooms merely reek of pot from the previous guests or the folks in the next room.

And times have changed for the Chiefs, too.

The latest incident that has put KC at the center of America’s culture wars is a commencement speech that Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker gave at Benedictine College, a Catholic school in Kansas. He’s unapologetically conservative and traditional, anti-LGBT, pro-women staying at home, and still a little upset after finding out that MAGA doesn’t mean “Make America Gilead Again.”

(If you don’t know what that means, it’s a reference to the conservative how-to documentary “The Handmaid’s Tale,” a fun, lighthearted examination of how life in America could be if more of Harrison’s friends were in charge. Great viewing for the whole family!)

Harrison railed against pride month, voiced his opposition to abortion and contraception, and promoted the concept of women shunning careers to instead be homemakers — not very popular opinions outside of right-wing circles, but also not uncommon views in his circles. A lot of his lines got big rounds of applause from the crowd at Benedictine, though a handful of female students were a bit rankled that they’d just spent four years learning career skills only to realize that they’d failed to learn more important things like how to make a proper blackberry cobbler.

In Harrison’s defense, a woman who can make a great blackberry cobbler is worth marrying and possibly even allowed to have Thursday afternoons off from mopping the kitchen.

But his comments also rankled some folks who believe in acceptance and inclusivity of those who have long been relegated to the outskirts or underground of society. They are concerned for those whose lifestyles are not condoned by thousands-of-years-old theological texts — you know, like eating fat or shrimp, planting different seeds in a field, eating a grape off the ground, trimming your beard (take note, Harrison), mistreating foreigners, getting a tattoo, seeking revenge (take note, Mr. “I am your retribution”), working on the sabbath, or eating pork. (See Leviticus for more fun recipes and tips for throwing a memorable stoning.) And don’t even think about getting the shrimp platter at Tattoo Joe’s Barbecue on a Sunday!

Meanwhile, one of Harrison’s comments that has gone largely unreported would be deemed by many to be Mel Gibson-dui-arrest-level anti-semitic:

“The world around us says that we should keep our beliefs to ourselves whenever they go against the tyranny of diversity, equity, and inclusion. We fear speaking truth, because now, unfortunately, truth is in the minority. Congress just passed a bill where stating something as basic as the biblical teaching of who killed Jesus could land you in jail.”

While I wouldn’t touch the “who killed Jesus” debate with a 10-foot pole or a 2,000-pound MK-84 bomb, I do agree with Harrison on one of his other main points — about being happier staying at home while the spouse worked. I have vehemently suggested as much to my wife, to which she replied:

“No, (omitted) I am not going to (omitted) work three more jobs just so you can (omitted) stay home!!! (omitted, omitted, omitted)” she replied, lovingly, with only three exclamation marks and several words I omitted to keep Harrison from turning Chiefs red if he reads this.

“Well, forgive me for wanting to stay home and spend more time with the hammock!”

Some on the left want the Chiefs to release the kicker for his remarks. I’m not cool with that any more than I was with cancel culture coming after Colin Kaepernick for taking a knee in silent, peaceful protest. Criticize Harrison, make fun of him and his backwardness and boo all you want. He’s got a right to his wrong opinions. Even my therapist, Whoopi Goldberg, agrees — something she expressed on “The View,” which I watch religiously every day of my life.

Harrison’s jersey is selling like hotcakes right now — assuming folks still sell hotcakes, of course (IHOP maybe?) — even outselling the Chiefs’ super-all-pro-mvp-best-hair quarterback Patrick Mahomes. In fact, the only Chiefs player whose jersey is outselling Harrison is some guy named Travis Kelce.

You Harrison-loving folks may recall Kelce as the guy whose girlfriend was shown for an average of 18 seconds at some of last season’s Chiefs games, prompting some of you to throw temper tantrums and vow to quit watching the NFL. Hopefully his girlfriend will give up her cute little career, marry Kelce and learn to make a fantastic blackberry cobbler.

(Wait, what? She already can? Oh, come on!)

Otherwise, I don’t know what folks on each extreme are going to do this coming season when Harrison has to kick an extra point after a Kelce touchdown.

Guess you all will just have to shake it off.

What do you think about this?