LATHAM — After the thrill of hitting the field goal that gave the Kansas City Chiefs their second Super Bowl victory in four years, and the hoopla of the championship parade that followed, Harrison Butker was in need of something that could keep him grounded.
For Butker, a six-year NFL veteran and a devout Catholic, that meant a retreat to St. Michael’s Abbey near Los Angeles for a week of silence, reflection and prayer alongside Norbertine monks.
“Just trying to grow in my spiritual life,” Butker said Friday during a visit to the headquarters of NOVUS, the clothing company he’s partnered with for a line of custom apparel. “Trying to get educated from their great minds and kind of get away from all of the glamour and all of the enticing things of this world that come with winning the Super Bowl.”
The retreat was a far, far cry from the hysteria Butker found himself a part of on Feb. 12 in Glendale, Arizona, when his 27-yard field goal with eight seconds remaining providing the deciding points in Super Bowl LVII as the Chiefs beat the Philadelphia Eagles 38-35.
@dgazette Chiefs’ Butker discusses Super Bowl-winning kick with Latham clothing company NOVUS – 3/24/23 – Daily Gazette
“For it to come down to a field goal, I’m just so grateful for that opportunity,” Butker said.
Butker’s faith is at the heart of his partnership with NOVUS, the clothing company founded by Glenmont natives and La Salle Institute graduates Garrett and Nick Bernardo, alongside their friend and business partner Scott Klimchak.
Butker first became acquainted with the Bernardos through a mutual friend in 2020, just after he won his first Super Bowl with the Chiefs, and he partnered with NOVUS for a line of custom apparel, including “Buttkicker” gear, based on the kicker’s colorful nickname.
“I had a mutual friend with [the Bernardos] that had great things to say,” Butker said. “We were mission-aligned. We have that faith foundation that’s so important, and I wanted to work with men that had that same belief. We just hit it off.”
Butker’s visit to NOVUS headquarters in Latham on Friday was part of a whirlwind 48-hour trip to the Capital Region. Thursday night, he spoke with the Albany chapter of Legatus, an organization for Catholic business leaders. Friday included a visit to the Bernardo’s alma mater, La Salle Institute in Troy, as well as promo shoots for NOVUS gear in downtown Albany and at RPI’s ECAV Stadium.
Just before speaking to reporters, he shot a commercial for NOVUS in the vein of ESPN’s long-running “This is SportsCenter” campaign, donning his full Chiefs uniform — helmet, shoulder pads and all — while manning the company’s reception desk.
Following a company party Friday night, Butker was slated to fly back to his family in Kansas on Saturday.
With his 27-yard boot in Super Bowl LVII, Butker became one of just three kickers in NFL history to hit a game-winning field goal in the final moments of a Super Bowl. Jim O’Brien of the Baltimore Colts hit a 32-yarder with five seconds left to beat the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl V, and Adam Vinatieri hit game-winners for the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXVI against the St. Louis Rams and Super Bowl XXXVIII against the Carolina Panthers.
Butker didn’t grow up wanting to join that club — the Decatur, Georgia native didn’t play football until his sophomore year of high school — but it’s one he’s honored to be a part of.
“I feel like I was just put in this position by God,” Butker said. “I didn’t do anything to be in the Super Bowl and be able to get that opportunity. That was the team that I was on. I happened to discover when I was a sophomore in high school that I could kick a ball, and that took me now to being a professional kicker. … It doesn’t seem like I’ve done anything. I’ve just almost been placed here.”
The winning kick came at the end of a 12-play, 66-yard drive orchestrated by superstar Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, with the Chiefs able to bleed the clock into the final seconds to set up Butker for the go-ahead attempt.
“I knew it was coming down to a field goal. I think everyone did,” said Butker, who also hit the game-winning field goal in Kansas City’s AFC championship game win over the Cincinnati Bengals and whose career 88.2% field goal success rate ranks fourth in NFL history. “It could’ve been a long field goal, which I was prepared for. Once we got into that closer field goal range, I knew they’re probably calling ‘church mode,’ which means do not score a touchdown, just go ahead and take a knee, and we’ll bleed the clock and kick a field goal to win the game.
“As soon as we crossed the 50-yard line, I was getting prepared. I tried not to think about the fact that this would be the game-winning Super Bowl kick, I tried to treat it like any other kick.”
Butker’s heroics were the exclamation point on a Super Bowl MVP performance from Mahomes. The two have been Chiefs teammates since they were rookies in 2017, but Butker still marvels “every practice” at Mahomes’ generational talent.
“There’s so many guys on our team that it’s just incredible to watch up close,” he said. “But I think Patrick is the one that is maybe the guy that the NFL has never seen before with the ability that he has throwing the football.”