It’s the off-season, but Kansas City Chiefs star kicker Harrison Butker is playing defense now.

Giving a commencement address at a Catholic college last weekend, the three-time Super Bowl champion praised his wife, Isabelle, a stay-at-home mom, and warned the women graduating of “diabolical lies” regarding whether career success would make them happier than motherhood.

“All of my success is made possible because a girl I met in band class back in middle school would convert to the faith, become my wife, and embrace one of the most important titles of all: homemaker,” Butker told graduates at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas. “She’s a primary educator to our children. She’s the one who ensures I never let football or my business become a distraction from that of a husband and father.”

“I say all of this to you because I’ve seen it firsthand how much happier someone can be when they disregard the outside noise and move closer and closer to God’s will in their life,” he added. “Isabelle’s dream of having a career might not have come true. But if you ask her today if she has any regrets on her decision, she would laugh out loud without hesitation and say, ‘Heck, no.’”

Cue a media meltdown more appropriate for oh, a commencement speaker suggesting that graduates pursue a career in terrorism.

“Chiefs’ Harrison Butker blasted for commencement speech encouraging women to be homemakers,” blared NBC News. “Chiefs’ Harrison Butker Criticized for Graduation Speech Attacking Working Women While Quoting Taylor Swift,” wrote People.

“It’s demeaning to women to imply that their choices outside of wife and motherhood pale in comparison to that of a homemaker,” former California first lady and journalist Maria Shriver posted on X.

Even the NFL, apparently no longer as devoted to promoting freedom of conscience as the league was during the Colin Kaepernick kneeling era, distanced itself from Butker—who also made waves with his criticism of Pride Month, in vitro fertilization, and the “tyranny of diversity, equity, and inclusion” during his speech.

“Harrison Butker gave a speech in his personal capacity,” Jonathan Beane, an NFL senior vice president and chief diversity and inclusion officer, told People. “His views are not those of the NFL as an organization. The NFL is steadfast in our commitment to inclusion, which only makes our league stronger.”

But here’s the catch: Half of women with children 18 and younger say they would like to stay at home. According to a 2019 Gallup poll, 50% of women with minor children said they would prefer to be a homemaker, while 45% said they’d prefer to work outside the home.

In other words, it’s Butker, not his critics, who represent the most popular view among women with younger children.

If I’m blessed with children, I honestly don’t know if I’ll continue working, whether part time or full time, or choose to stay at home.

But I’m sick of this idea that it’s wrong to say that some women, and maybe even most women, would be happier staying at home with their children.

Among my mom, my sister, and friends, I’ve seen many women find genuine fulfillment and joy in staying home with their children, even as they face very real sacrifices because of it. (Ask a stay-at-home mom how often she longs for adult conversation, or how she feels about the ten-thousandth time she’s dealt with a toddler meltdown.)

Of course, being a stay-at-home mom—or dad—just isn’t on the table for many American families struggling to pay the bills, even on two salaries. Many great moms and dads do choose to have both parents work, and still raise wonderful kids.

I’d also point out to Butker, who powerfully spoke about his love of our shared Catholic faith during his remarks, that St. Gianna Beretta Molla, who died in 1962, was a working mom. Molla, a pediatrician who continued practicing even as she raised her children, was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 2004.

When Molla was pregnant with her fourth child, doctors discovered a tumor. Despite the risk to her own health, she proceeded with the pregnancy and died a week after delivering Gianna Emanuela Molla, who became a doctor herself.

Catholicism is certainly not opposed to women working. In a 1995 letter to women, John Paul II, now a saint himself, wrote: “Thank you, women who work! You are present and active in every area of life-social, economic, cultural, artistic and political.”

“In this way you make an indispensable contribution to the growth of a culture which unites reason and feeling, to a model of life ever open to the sense of ‘mystery,’ to the establishment of economic and political structures ever more worthy of humanity,” John Paul II added.

Ultimately, were Butker to have asked me for my advice regarding his speech, I would have recommended he honor many women’s genuine desire for both careers and to be stay-at-home moms by talking about changing the corporate culture to better accommodate women who take off years or decades to be stay-at-home moms.

I would have also loved Butker to talk not just about the scourge of fatherlessness but the need for good dads who push back on bosses and corporations with excessive demands and prioritize their children over worldly success.

But Butker isn’t drawing widespread ire because of his lack of nuance. He’s drawing widespread ire because he advocated a viewpoint that goes against our elites’ mentality, because he pushed back against the worldly idea that career success is what matters most, not our relationships and time with our loved ones.

He’s drawing hate because, despite women’s happiness declining over the past 50 years, corporate America doesn’t want to hear that many moms would be happier if they could stay at home with their kids, or if their jobs were more accommodating to prioritizing family.

He’s drawing criticism because, at a time when we urge our kids to pursue personal goals and success, he’s saying that it’s Jesus Christ who is the king, that sometimes the path of sacrifice and little to no recognition is the better one.

That’s not a popular message in 2024 (nor was it in 33 A.D., for that matter).

But it’s a message that deserves a serious hearing. We are not living in some era where men and women are fulfilled and happy, and children are thriving. We’re instead living in a time where violence is increasing, where mental health is in decline, where suicide rates are going up, and where addiction—whether to marijuana, harder drugs, food, porn, or alcohol—is affecting far too many.

Maybe, just maybe, that’s a sign we’re not OK in our current way of life.

I don’t agree with every word Butker said in his speech. But he’s sure making the right enemies—and he deserves a serious response, not censorship and unthinking criticism.