Biden hosts Kansas City Chiefs at White House as team celebrates back-to-back Super Bowl wins

President Joe Biden on Friday congratulated the Kansas City Chiefs on their second Super Bowl victory in two years, joking, “back to back … I like that.”

“When the doubters question whether you could pull it off again — believe me, I know what that feels like,” the president said, welcoming the team back to the White House. “I don’t think anyone’s doubting you now.”

Biden also tried on a Chiefs helmet the team gifted him, prompting cheers from the players and the crowd. After the president wrapped up his remarks, he turned the mic over to tight end Travis Kelce, who recalled last year’s White House visit, during which he jokingly attempted to give a speech at the podium before being ushered away by quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

“It’s nice to see you all yet again. I’m not gonna lie, President Biden, they told me if I came up here I’d get tased, so I’m gonna go back to my spot,” Kelce said Friday.

The visit carried an underlying level of tension not often felt at championship celebrations at the White House.

It’s been only a few weeks since Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker, who joined the team’s visit to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, criticized Biden, who is Catholic, and other unnamed Catholic leaders for “pushing dangerous gender ideologies onto the youth of America” — an apparent reference to transgender rights. His commencement address at Benedictine College contained other controversial statements, such as calling Pride Month a “deadly sin,” bemoaning diversity and equity initiatives, and suggesting women find more fulfillment from getting married and having children than from their careers.

“I want to speak directly to you briefly because I think it is you, the women, who have had the most diabolical lies told to you,” Butker, who is also Catholic, said during the speech.

Butker’s criticism of Biden and the backlash to his speech led to speculation that the kicker — who wore a tie with an anti-abortion phrase on it to the White House last year — would skip this year’s event.

Some of Butker’s high-profile teammates have distanced themselves from his opinions even as they say they embrace the three-time Super Bowl champion as a person. Kelce said last week that he doesn’t agree with “just about any” of Butker said but that the kicker is “a great person and a great teammate.” Mahomes told reporters Butker was a “good person,” despite “not necessarily agreeing” with his comments.

The NFL has also distanced itself from Butker’s comments, saying through a spokesperson that his views are “not those of the NFL as an organization.” Butker is not backing down from his comments.

Taylor Swift, the global superstar who is dating Kelce, wasn’t expected at the White House on Friday as she continues the Europe leg of her long-running “Eras Tour.” Swift played a show in Madrid on Thursday night and is traveling on to Lyon, France, this weekend.

The White House visit capped a particularly high-profile season for the Chiefs after Swift and Kelce went public with their relationship early in the season. It ended in an accomplishment that hadn’t been done in two decades by an NFL team — a back-to-back Super Bowl championship, the fourth in Chiefs history and the third in the last five years.

The celebrations in Kansas City were tragically brief. On February 14, one person was killed and 20 others were injured in a mass shooting just moments after the team’s celebratory rally. Two men were charged with murder in the shooting, which started after a confrontation between two groups of people.

In his remarks Friday, Biden said that “as a country, we have to do more to stop these tragic shootings before they happen.”

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes looks on as Biden speaks with tight end Travis Kelce. - Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes looks on as Biden speaks with tight end Travis Kelce. - Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Kelce, who had already racked up a storied career that will likely send him to the Hall of Fame when he eventually follows his brother, Jason, into retirement, became a celebrity outside the world of football thanks to his relationship with Swift. While his performance on the field dropped off as compared with his incredible 2022 season, he still played well enough to be rewarded with a contract extension that made him the highest-paid tight end in the league.

For Mahomes, the Super Bowl victory over the San Francisco 49ers in Las Vegas cemented the Texas Tech alum as one of the greatest quarterbacks in the game’s history, even though he’s just six years into his career and is not yet 30 years old.

He said last year’s visit to the Oval Office was one of the highlights of his career.

“I mean, I’ve never been to Washington, DC – I’ve never even got to see from the outside, seeing the White House or any of the monuments or memorials,” Mahomes told reporters at the time. “And so, to be able to be here and see that, and see the history of this great nation that we have, it was really cool for me to just be here and be in the moment, and I don’t think I could ever really imagine it being as cool as it was.”

CNN’s Nikki Carvajal, Donald Judd, AJ Willingham, Piper Hudspeth Blackburn, Matias Grez and Keith Allen contributed to this report.

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