Harrison Butker seals victory with game-winning field goal

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Harrison Butker ’13 in action punting for the Kansas City Chiefs.

Harrison Butker’s meteoric rise to the top of the NFL has been unsurprising and well-earned. As the kicker for the reigning Super Bowl champions, the Kansas City Chiefs, Butker has earned the reputation as one of the best kickers in the NFL. Butker’s talent was on full display in the Sept. 20 game as the Kansas City Chiefs faced the Los Angeles Chargers, where he nailed three field goals during the game. With this, he tied the Kansas City Chiefs’ record for the longest field goal by hitting a 58-yarder twice, earning him the AFC Special Teams Player of the week. 

During the game, Butker’s pivotal kick in overtime clinched the Chiefs’ victory. In the fourth quarter of regulation, Butker kept the Chiefs in the game by making a 30-yard field goal to tie the game 20-20, sending the game into overtime. The Chiefs then proceeded to march the ball down the field, ending up at the Chargers’ 35-yard line. Butker then lined up and effortlessly sank the 53-yard field goal. However, a false start penalty against the Chiefs brought the ball five yards back. Then, Butker lined up again and successfully completed a staggering 58-yard field goal, but a timeout by the Chargers was called before the play, nullifying the kick. For the second time that night, with ice in his veins, Butker lined up and masterfully kicked a second 58-yard field goal, ultimately giving the Chiefs the win over the Chargers. 

“I thought that it was a very crucial kick and it was awesome to watch a fellow Westminster player help lead his team to a win,” said ninth-grade football player Will Downes. 

Butker is making a name for himself in the NFL, and this year may be his best yet. In February, Butker became a Super Bowl champion with the Kansas City Chiefs. However, Butker’s journey began on Friday nights in Westminster’s football stadium. Butker was a kicker at Westminster, playing under head coach Gerry Romberg on the varsity football team and setting a record for the longest recorded field goal. He was also a captain of the varsity soccer team.

“Butker was a very good student, and he grew from being a great athlete to being a great player and leader,” said head varsity soccer coach Scott Snyder. “His character was something that set him apart. Even when he became captain he still would clean the bench after every practice and game. At Georgia Tech he was named captain, which kickers never are.”

Currently, Butker is the only Westminster alumnus in the NFL and has been a great role model for athletes at Westminster. During his time at Westminster, Butker was a three-sport athlete, playing football, basketball, and soccer. He won three soccer state championships under the leadership of Snyder. 

After Westminster, Butker attended college at Georgia Tech and played four seasons with the Yellow Jackets. While Butker was at Georgia Tech, he showed glimpses of the greatness that would come to define his time in the NFL. By the time Butker was a senior, he led the Jackets in all-time scoring with 337 career points. In 2014, a game-tying kick in the fourth quarter against Georgia, now dubbed the “The Kick and The Pick,” sent the game into overtime and cemented Butker’s place in Georgia Tech’s history. Butker had a FG percentage of 71.66 in college and made an impressive 99 percent of all extra points attempts. 

It was no surprise when Butker was selected in the 7th round of the NFL draft to the Carolina Panthers, where he would battle for a position over veteran kicker Graham Gano. Butker was ultimately cut and signed to the practice squad, which was typical for rookie kickers. The NFL season went on until an opportunity for him to play for the Kansas City Chiefs arose. His time came when Chiefs’ kicker, Cairo Santos, sustained an injury, opening up a spot on the roster that Butker eventually filled. Butker’s journey to the NFL has inspired many Westminster athletes.

“I think it’s exciting to see someone from Westminster be so successful” said senior volleyball player Mary Emily Morgan. 

During his first professional game, he nailed the game-winning kick against the Washington Redskins. Since that incredible first game, Butker has had continued success at Kansas City, breaking several team records. He currently has the second-highest field goal percentage in NFL history. Recently, Butker signed a five-year extension worth over $20.3 million that will keep him with the Chiefs through the 2024 season.

Butker is also well known as being an openly devout Catholic and has had a deep commitment to service. In 2017, Butker started his own foundation, the Harrison Butker Foundation, to help give back to his community. As a child, he grew up in a Christian home but his faith was not always as strong as it is now. 

“I went to college and completely stopped going to Mass and stopped having much of a prayer life,” said Butker.   

This caused him to feel empty and to lose his passion.

“I liked football but there was nothing I was really passionate about, nothing that I saw as more important,” said Butker. 

However, his newfound friendship with Grant Aasen, the Georgia Tech punter, helped him regain his faith. Whether it is his extraordinary athletic talent or faith that makes him a clutch kicker, Harrison Butker will forever be known as the best “Buttkicker” that has come out of Westminster. The Westminster community is looking forward to cheering him on as the Chiefs play the Denver Broncos on Oct. 25.

Harrison Butker ’13 in action punting for the Kansas City Chiefs.