Headlines for Wednesday, September 13, 2023
KBI Investigates Officer-Involved Fatal Shooting in Butler County
ANDOVER, Kan. (KPR) — The Kansas Bureau of Investigation is reviewing an officer-involved shooting in Butler County Tuesday afternoon that left one man dead. Sheriff's deputies say they tried to stop the driver of a suspected stolen vehicle near Andover. The driver, 21-year-old Blake P. Patterson of Wichita, fled the scene and deputies gave chase. The pursuit ended when Patterson ditched the truck and fled on foot into a neighborhood. Authorities say Patterson then stole a moving truck and tried to drive away. A deputy caught up with the truck and deployed a taser but Patterson continued driving in the direction of another deputy who fired one shot, striking Patterson. No law enforcement officers were injured in the incident. The KBI is investigating the chase and fatal shooting.
High School in Poor Topeka Neighborhood Gets $5 Million Donation from Graduate's Estate
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The estate of a woman who died last year has donated $5 million to her former high school in a poor Kansas neighborhood. The Topeka Public Schools Foundation announced the gift Tuesday from the estate of Susan Guffey, a former graduate. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the money won't be used to build something in her honor, but rather will support students and programs at Highland Park High School,
Among those who might benefit are students who had to participate in bake sales and other fundraisers in the past to pay for things like out-of-state trips, said Pamela Johnson-Betts, the foundation’s executive director.
"We now are going to be able to say to those students and staff: ‘Come to us. We have a pot of money that will make sure that the students we serve are going to be able to take every opportunity they want,’” she said.
Guffey spent her later years in the Seattle area, where she often contributed to programs, while favoring anonymity. Former principal Dale Cushinberry recalled that he met with her for more than a decade as she toured the school. When she asked how she could help, he said the school had a goal of having every student read three modern novels. Cushinberry said the problem was that the school didn't have three modern novels.
The next week, he had a check to meet that need, and then some. Other gifts followed, one for $200,000. But her last is the largest in the Topeka school district's history.
“I think it’s because of where she grew up, and I would say that, for many of us who grew up on the east side of town, there’s a desire to prove ourselves,” Johnson-Betts said. “A lot of times, people think that because you live in a certain ZIP code, you’re not as worthy as others.”
Jury Finds Former Ft. Riley Soldier Guilty in Aggieville Murder
RILEY COUNTY, Kan. (KSNT) — A Fort Riley man has been convicted of first degree murder in a 2022 murder case in Manhattan’s Aggieville district. KSNT reports that a jury convicted 21-year-old Tremelle Montgomery on all charges connected to the fatal shooting of 21-year-old Joshua Wardi. He was killed on February 5, 2022. Both men were Ft. Riley soldiers at the time. The KBI investigated the case because the suspect was shot by Riley County police officers as he was running away from the shooting scene. Montgomery’s sentencing is scheduled for October 24. Two other co-defendants are awaiting trial on the same charges but their trial dates have not yet been scheduled.
Judge Considers Oversight Options for Kansas Highway Patrol During Traffic Stop Searches
TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) — A Kansas judge is considering whether state troopers will need to get written consent from drivers before searching vehicles. Federal law does not require written approval to search someone’s car. But a Kansas judge says the Kansas Highway Patrol’s regular use of unconstitutional vehicle searches means the agency needs a different set of rules. Concerns surfaced because of a tactic known as the Kansas two-step. The procedure used to be used by Kansas troopers to search vehicles suspected of carrying marijuana. Federal judge Kathryn Vratil is still working through possible new requirements for law enforcement, like requiring more documentation for each traffic stop. The Kansas Highway Patrol opposes the additional oversight, saying it gets in the way of police work.
Topeka City Council Unanimously Approves Budget
TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) — The Topeka City Council has voted unanimously to pass the 2024 city budget. KSNT TV reports that the mayor and council voted 10-0 at Tuesday's meeting to reduce the budget by one mill dropping the overall mill levy to 36.9. One mill equals $1.5 million in savings for residents on their property taxes.
Kansas Health Officials: High Risk of West Nile Virus Activity for Most of the State
TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) — The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) has issued a high-risk warning for West Nile virus infections for most of the state. Health officials say all regions of the state are at high risk except southeast Kansas, which is at a moderate risk level. The virus is carried and transmitted by mosquitoes and can infect humans, horses, birds and other species. Most infections occur in the late summer and early fall. There are no vaccines to prevent - or medications to treat - West Nile Virus in humans.
According to KDHE, 22 human cases of West Nile Virus have been reported so far this year, including three deaths. In addition, the Kansas Department of Agriculture has reported seven equine cases. Confirmed equine cases of West Nile Virus have been reported in Barber, Butler, Douglas, Ford and Pratt counties.
Attorney for BTK Serial Killer Says His Client Isn't Involved in Oklahoma Teen's Disappearance
PAWHUSKA, Okla. (AP) — The defense attorney for the BTK serial killer insisted Tuesday that his client was not involved in the 1976 disappearance of an Oklahoma teenager, even as the dispute between the sheriff and prosecutor over the investigation intensified. Defense attorney Rob Ridenour said in a statement disputing Dennis Rader's involvement in Cynthia Kinney's disappearance that his client has already confessed to his crimes. He said Rader was already interviewed by the sheriff's department about Kinney, a cheerleader from the northern Oklahoma city of Pawhuska, who was last seen at a laundromat.
Rader, now 78, killed from 1974 to 1991, giving himself the nickname BTK — for "bind, torture and kill." He played a cat and mouse game with investigators and reporters for decades before he was caught in 2005. He is serving 10 life terms in the neighboring state of Kansas, one for each of the victims he confessed to killing. Ridenour released the statement one day after Osage County, Oklahoma, District Attorney Mike Fisher raised questions about how Sheriff Eddie Virden was handling the investigation.
Osage County sheriff's officials, including Undersheriff Gary Upton, have recently called Rader a "prime suspect" in Kinney's disappearance and the death of 22-year-old Shawna Beth Garber, whose body was discovered in December 1990 in McDonald County, Missouri. In August, the sheriff's office also released information from Rader's journal entry in which he used the phrase "PJ-Bad Wash Day." The entry said laundry mats were a "good place to watch victims and dream."
A bank was installing new alarms across the street from the laundromat where Kinney was last seen, Virden has said. Rader was a regional installer for security system company ADT at the time, but Virden wasn't able to confirm that Rader installed the bank's systems. But Fisher said he hadn't seen anything "that at this point arises to the level of even reasonable suspicion" and called his relationship with the sheriff "broken." He added that he asked the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation to open a formal investigation into Kinney's disappearance because of the public interest in the revived cold case.
Virden said at a news conference Tuesday that he was "absolutely furious," following up on a news release Monday in which his office accused Fisher of attempting to "derail the investigation" by contacting the prison where Rader was held in an attempt to halt further interviews. The sheriff's office said a task force has been created to help with the investigation.
High Court Skeptical of Wichita Ordinance Used to Arrest Protester
TOPEKA, Kan. (KMUW/KCUR) — Kansas Supreme Court justices seem skeptical about a Wichita city ordinance used to arrest a protester in 2020. The court heard legal arguments Tuesday and will decide if the ordinance violated the protester’s First Amendment rights. Police arrested Gabrielle Griffie during a protest over the killing of George Floyd. The city says Griffie blocked traffic and had an interaction with a car delayed in the traffic. The city says that counts as disorderly conduct. Griffie’s lawyers say she shouldn’t face charges for anything related to the protest. Nate Johnson, an attorney for the city, says the ordinance prohibits "noisy conduct tending to arouse alarm, anger or resentment in others." He says Griffe’s conduct violated the ordinance. Griffie’s attorney told the court that people can be alarmed, angered or resentful about a lot of things and that the ordinance is too broad. Some of the justices hinted that they agree the ordinance is too broad, and that constitutionally protected protests could violate it. The Kansas Court of Appeals previously upheld the local ordinance. (Read more.)
Authorities Identify Man Who Died While Fishing in Southeast Kansas
WEST MINERAL, Kan. (KSNF) — Cherokee County authorities have identified a man who died at a southeast Kansas strip pit while fishing. The Cherokee County Sheriff's Office says the body of 84-year-old Richard Girton, of Galena, was recovered from the water near West Mineral Tuesday afternoon. KSNF TV reports that Girton was fishing with his son when he slipped off the bank and into the water.
Three Pedestrians Hit in Construction Zone on Kansas Turnpike
WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – A crash on the Kansas Turnpike this (WED) morning injured three pedestrians south of Wichita. The southbound lanes of the turnpike between Mulvane and Belle Plaine were closed for several hours after a crash involving a semi-truck and a van. The collision happened in a construction zone around 9:30 am. KSNW TV reports that one person is in critical condition. Two others are in serious condition.
Coalition Promotes Cost-of-Living Adjustments for State Retirees
TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) — Higher inflation in recent years has eaten up the value of pension payments for thousands of retired teachers, first responders and other public employees in Kansas. Cost-of-living adjustments, or COLAs, are meant to supplement pension payments that are shrinking because of inflation. Yet the Kansas Legislature has not provided a cost-of-living adjustment in decades. Alan Conroy, executive director for the Kansas Public Employee Retirement System, known as KPERS, recently told state lawmakers that the most recent payment increase was in 1998. “So, that means 90% of our retirees and their beneficiaries have not received a cost-of-living adjustment," he said. A coalition of retirees wants those adjustments and is proposing a plan that would provide an increase to the pensions. Kansas lawmakers have been reluctant to take up the issue because the plan could cost the state more than $250 million annually. (Read more.)
School Bus Driver Suspected of Failing to Yield Before Crash that Killed High School Student
TOWANDA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities suspect a school bus driver is at fault in a crash the killed a high school student riding in a car. The bus was crossing Kansas state highway 254 on Friday afternoon when another high schooler who was driving the car slammed into it, Butler County Sheriff Monty Hughey said in a news release. It is believed the school bus driver “failed to yield the right of way,” the sheriff said. The Wichita Eagle reports that the car's passenger later died at a hospital. The car's driver was seriously injured. Circle Public Schools Superintendent Don Potter identified the passenger as Halie Friesen, a junior at Circle High School. He provided no information about the injured passenger. There were 14 children on the school bus at the time of the crash, the sheriff’s office said, and none reported any injuries. An investigation into the crash is ongoing. Circle High School, in Towanda, is about 25 miles northeast of Wichita.
North KC Couple to Open Museum Featuring Children's Books
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCUR) — A long-awaited new museum dedicated to children’s books will open in Kansas City in March. The immersive museum, called The Rabbit Hole, will have more than 30 exhibits with scenes from books like “Goodnight Moon” and “Last Stop on Market Street.” Co-founders Pete Cowdin and Deb Pettid say the museum will open March 12 in a renovated North Kansas City warehouse. Cowdin says connecting people to children’s books and their creators is at the heart of the effort. “We believe deeply in the art and the meaning of the literature that’s been created for young people, and our goal is to honor that in the deepest way," he said. The Rabbit Hole has taken more than eight years of fundraising, planning and construction. When it opens, it will include a full-service bookstore, print shop, and resource library.
Missouri's Pro Sports Teams Push for Legal Sports Gambling
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP/KPR) — A coalition of Missouri's professional sports teams is backing a new effort to legalize sports betting that could put the issue to voters on the 2024 ballot. After missing out on millions of dollars in betting revenues over the past several years, the sports teams decided they are done waiting for the Missouri Legislature to act and instead have taken the first step toward an initiative petition drive that would circumvent lawmakers.
The effort is spearheaded by the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team, and also includes the Kansas City Chiefs football team, the Kansas City Royals baseball team, the Kansas City Current and St. Louis City soccer teams, and the St. Lous Blues hockey team. Gathering petitions signatures and running an advertising campaign for a ballot measure can cost millions of dollars — a price the teams are committed to collectively help cover, said Mike Whittle, the Cardinals' senior vice president and general counsel, on behalf of the coalition. Legalized sports betting would "provide our fans a good, new exciting way to enjoy sports and root for our teams," Whittle said Tuesday.
Sports betting has expanded rapidly — it's now legal in all but one of Missouri's neighboring states — since the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for it five years ago. Kentucky became the 35th state with active sports betting when the NFL season began last week. Maine and Vermont have legalized it but are still working to set up their betting systems.
The last state to put sports betting on the ballot was California, where supporters and opponents of two competing proposals raised a record of around $460 million last year. Voters defeated both measures.
Earlier this year, the Missouri House voted 118-35 in favor of sports betting legislation, but it never received a Senate vote. Similar bills have repeatedly stalled in the Republican-led Senate because of a dispute about whether to pair sports betting with the regulation of slot-machine-style games that have been popping up in convenience stores.
"We're not optimistic that kind of dynamic within the Missouri Senate will change," Whittle said.
Several versions of a sports betting petition were filed Friday with Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft's office, which must approve an initiative summary before supporters can start gathering the roughly 180,000 signatures needed to qualify for the ballot by a May deadline.
Under the proposed initiative, Missouri would impose a 10% tax on adjusted gross sports betting revenue, after the payout of winnings and promotional bets to customers. A similar legislative proposal had been estimated earlier this year to generate around $30 million annually when fully implemented. The proposed initiative would allot $5 million to a compulsive gamblers prevention fund, with much of the rest going to K-12 schools and higher education institutions.
USDA Offers Schools Funding for Fresh, Local Foods
WICHITA, Kan. (HPM) — More schools are offering students fresh, locally grown food in their cafeterias. And there’s a lot of federal investment behind the Farm to School food movement. That money aims to reshape school lunch menus and strengthen local farm economies. It seems like a simple idea that benefits everyone involved. But according to Harvest Public Media, getting local food into schools has proven frustratingly complicated. Cindy Long administers the Farm to School program at the USDA. Long’s agency has been funding farm to school efforts at the federal level for more than a decade. She says challenges have included the cost of local food, training cafeteria staff and an admittedly bureaucratic purchasing system. "Schools and producers really just needed an ongoing source of support to help take folks from interest to actually being able to execute," she said. Recent policy changes at the federal level make providing that support a new priority. Last school year, the USDA started funneling unprecedented amounts of money to states specifically to get more local food into schools. At least $260 million directly funds local food purchases and related farm to school infrastructure. There’s just one catch: that firehose of extra funding isn’t permanent. It runs out at the end of this school year.
Missouri Clinic Halts Transgender Care for Minors in Wake of New State Law
ST. LOUIS (AP/KPR) — A Missouri clinic will stop prescribing puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones to minors for the purpose of gender transition, citing a new state law that the clinic says "creates unsustainable liability" for health care workers.
A statement released Monday by the Washington University Transgender Center at St. Louis Children's Hospital said patients currently receiving care will be referred to other providers. The center will continue to provide education and mental health support for minors, as well as medical care for patients over the age of 18.
"We are disheartened to have to take this step," the statement read. "However, Missouri's newly enacted law regarding transgender care has created a new legal claim for patients who received these medications as minors. This legal claim creates unsustainable liability for health-care professionals and makes it untenable for us to continue to provide comprehensive transgender care for minor patients without subjecting the university and our providers to an unacceptable level of liability."
As of August 28, health care providers in the state are prohibited from prescribing gender-affirming treatments for teenagers and children under a bill signed in June by Governor Mike Parson. Most adults will still have access to transgender health care under the law, but Medicaid won't cover it. Prisoners must pay for gender-affirming surgeries out-of-pocket under the law.
Parson has called hormones, puberty blockers and gender-affirming surgeries for minors "harmful, irreversible treatments and procedures." He said the state "must protect children from making life-altering decisions that they could come to regret in adulthood once they have physically and emotionally matured."
The American Medical Association has opposed bans on gender-affirming care for minors and supported the medical care for youth when administered appropriately. Lawsuits have been filed in several states where bans have been enacted this year.
Governor Parson also signed legislation in June to ban transgender girls and women from playing on female sports teams from kindergarten through college. Both public and private schools face losing all state funding for violating the law.
Shira Berkowitz, of the state's LGBTQ+ advocacy group PROMO, said in a statement that Parson, Attorney General Andrew Bailey and the state legislature "blatantly committed a hate crime against transgender Missourians."
The St. Louis clinic fell under scrutiny early this year after former case manager Jamie Reed claimed in an affidavit that the center mainly provides gender-affirming care and does little to address mental health issues that patients also faced. Missouri GOP Senator Josh Hawley and Attorney General Andrew Bailey announced investigations after Reed's claims.
Missouri is among nearly two-dozen states to have enacted laws restricting or banning gender-affirming medical care for transgender minors.
Dry States Taking Mississippi River Water Isn't a New Idea. But Some Mayors Want to Kill It
ST. LOUIS (AP/KPR) — Community leaders along the Mississippi River worried that dry southwestern states will someday try to take the river's water may soon take their first step toward blocking such a diversion. Mayors from cities along the river are expected to vote on whether to support a new compact among the river's 10 states at this week's annual meeting of the Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative, according to its executive director Colin Wellenkamp. Supporters of a compact hope it will strengthen the region's collective power around shared goals like stopping water from leaving the corridor." It is the most important working river on earth," said Wellenkamp. "It's a matter of national security that the Mississippi River corridor remain intact, remain sustainable and remain ecologically and hydrologically healthy."
The Southwest has long struggled to find enough water for its growing population in a region prone to drought that climate change is making worse. Transporting water from the Mississippi River basin, which drains roughly 40% of the continental United States, has always been a long shot that many say isn't practical or remotely cost-effective. But Wellenkamp worries that conversation around the idea hasn't stopped.
A formal compact is still far off. The mayors' support would be just the first step in a lengthy, politically fraught process that would require buy-in from all 10 states along the river and federal approval, experts said. Those states range from left-leaning states like Minnesota, where the river begins, to thoroughly conservative states like Louisiana, where it empties into the Gulf of Mexico. The others are Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi.
Proponents say a compact would protect the river's water levels and ecology, make it easier to coordinate when floods or other disaster strikes and provide a way to resolve conflict among the river states. A favorable vote would ask the Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative to pursue a new river compact, according to a draft copy of the motion. "This is not going to be easy and it's not going to happen overnight," said Wellenkamp. "But, you know, every journey begins with a first step and a cash advance, I like to say."
Fear of water export has ignited political action before. Plans by a Canadian company in the 1990s to fill up tankers with Great Lakes water and ship it to Asia "was probably the tipping point" for establishing the Great Lakes Compact that went into effect in 2008. It strengthened cooperation among Great Lakes states that work with two Canadian providences to manage water from the lakes effectively, monitor its use and prevent it from leaving the basin. "The Great Lakes are better protected today than they ever have been before," said David Strifling, director of Marquette Law School's Water Law and Policy Initiative.
But Strifling said it was difficult to get an agreement together decades ago and it would be even harder to do so now "just due to the increased level of political polarization that exists." Wellenkamp said a Mississippi River compact, besides blocking diversions, would ensure that nearby water users also act in a sustainable way.
The river's water levels can be precarious. Last fall, they fell so low that they disrupted ship and barge traffic that moved soybeans, corn and other goods downriver for export. Much of the river is once again facing drought. People realize that the river "is not some stable resource," said Melissa Scanlan, director for the Center for Water Policy at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. "People are aware of how those low levels on the Mississippi River affect commerce and the communities," she said.
There are protections against some water diversions now. If one of the five states on the upper portion of the river wants to move large amounts of water out of the basin, it must notify and consult with the other four states first. The Upper Mississippi River Basin Association has existed for decades to foster cooperative management of the river. Currently, there's an effort to quantify water use among the upper basin states and understand how that use affects the river, officials said.
John Fleck, a water expert at the Utton Center at the University of New Mexico School of Law, said he is rooting for a Mississippi River compact so that what he calls the unworkable idea of a water pipeline to the west will die. "This is a waste of our time because (diversion) is magical thinking and it will never happen," he said.
Jennifer Gimbel, senior water policy scholar at Colorado State University, said the obstacles to a pipeline are high. It would need approval from Congress and from legislatures in each state it passes through, payments for landowners and condemnation procedures for those who didn't want the pipeline through their properties, and expensive permitting. Then there is the engineering nightmare and huge costs of moving huge amounts of water west. "It becomes pretty complicated real fast," Gimbel said.
The talk of diverting water to the Southwest will hopefully "light a fire under some states" to approve a Mississippi River compact, said Olivia Dorothy, director of river restoration with the conservation group American Rivers. Diverting water can harm the river's ecology, depriving species of the water they rely on. It could also slow the movement of sediment that's vital to the health of Louisiana and the Gulf of Mexico, among many other problems, she said. Dorothy said a compact would be a good way to say, "this is our water."
"If you want the Mississippi River water, you can move here," she said.
According to Kansas Public Radio, similar proposals to divert river water have surfaced in Kansas. One proposal would divert water from wells near the Missouri River during times of flooding and send it to much drier parts of western Kansas to recharge the Ogallala Aquifer. The idea has already been studied. Part of the problem is the cost. Shipping water from eastern Kansas to western Kansas would be expensive. It would involve pushing large amounts of water uphill for hundreds of miles and would require a number of pumping stations along the way. The idea is also fraught with legal and environmental concerns.
Kansas Book Festival Coming to Topeka
TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) — Dozens of authors will gather in Topeka next weekend for the 12th annual Kansas Book Festival. The festival's executive director, Tim Bascom, says organizers work to focus the festival on Kansas authors. "We're always trying to feature people who are somehow connected to Kansas," he said. "We've got a lot happening here." The Festival takes place Saturday, September 16th at Washburn University in Topeka. All events are free and open to the public. Learn more at KansasBookFestival.com.
2029 U.S. Senior Open to Return to Hutchinson
HUTCHINSON, Kan. (KPR) — The United States Golf Association has announced that the U.S. Senior Open will be returning to Prairie Dunes Country Club in Hutchinson. The last U.S. Senior Open at Prairie Dunes took place in 2006. It's coming back in 2029. The USGA also announced that the 2032 U.S. Women’s Senior Open will be held on the same course. Though both events are several years away, club president Keith Hughes says he’s happy that Prairie Dunes is back on the USGA calendar. "A tournament like this in the state of Kansas will be one of the biggest fan sporting events that the state has," he said.
Big 12 Aims for 3-Game Sweep of Mighty SEC After Longhorns' Win at Alabama
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Big 12 is aiming for a three-game sweep of the mighty Southeastern Conference when No. 15 Kansas State visits Missouri and BYU heads to Arkansas this weekend. The league already has a signature win after Texas won at Alabama. The Longhorns will soon be joining the Crimson Tide in their conference. The SEC won four of its six games against the Big 12 last year. Now the league is out for some revenge. FanDuel Sportsbook says the Wildcats are 4 1/2-point favorites. The Cougars are 8 1/2-point underdogs as they prepare to face the Razorbacks.
Chiefs' Chris Jones: 'I Would Change It' if Given Another Chance to Avoid Holdout
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Given another chance, Chris Jones acknowledged Wednesday that he would have changed the way he approached his holdout with the Kansas City Chiefs, which the All-Pro defensive tackle carried through the offseason, training camp and preseason right through their season-opening loss to the Detroit Lions.
Exactly how would he change it? Jones didn't really say.
“When you have a lot of new guys, it's kind of tough to be away, especially in the defensive line room,” said Jones, who was back at practice two days after agreeing to a reworked one-year deal that could amount to a raise if certain incentives are hit.
“These are the decisions you have to live with," he continued. "I would change it, but I’m grateful for how it turned out.”
Chiefs coach Andy Reid said he expects Jones to be on the field in some capacity Sunday in Jacksonville.
“He's an important part of it and you know, I'm glad he's back. We'll just see where he's at physically as we go,” Reid said. “He normally keeps himself in pretty good shape. We'll see how he does out there.”
At least he will be out there.
Jones spent the Chiefs' opener against Detroit last Thursday watching from a suite — his suite.
It wasn't exactly a view he enjoyed, either, as Kansas City stumbled to a 21-20 loss. Jones was powerless to help his teammates after they celebrated their latest Super Bowl triumph with a pregame banner-raising ceremony, and he mostly spent the game “biting my nails” and feeling like the other 80,000-some fans jammed into Arrowhead Stadium.
“It all felt crazy," Jones said. "First time I ever sat in my suite. I see what I pay so much money for. Food was amazing. But it was a different viewpoint. I could see from a fan's viewpoint how stressful it is.”
It's been a stressful offseason for the Chiefs, who have been trying to reach an agreement with Jones on a long-term deal; he is finishing a four-year, $80 million pact.
But the sides were never close, and as negotiations dragged on, Jones racked up millions in fines for missing mandatory minicamp, training camp and the preseason. He also forfeited his Week 1 game check.
Jones said his reworked contract allows him to recoup the fines, but did not discuss the details of it. He also said that he would not continue negotiations during the season but was open to revisiting them once it is complete.
“I don't want to go back and forth during the season,” Jones said. “My focus right now is being the best me I can be for this team; being the best player on this defense, the best player in the league. Anything less than that is a disappointment to myself.”
Jones also said he wasn't necessarily trying to become the league's highest-paid defensive tackle. That honor that currently belongs to the Rams' Aaron Donald, who is playing on a three-year, $96 million contract.
“Not at all,” he said. “Is it important to be the best at my position? Absolutely.”
There's an argument to be made that Jones was exactly that last season. He had 15 1/2 sacks to match the best season of his career, picked up his first postseason sacks and won his second Super Bowl ring in the past four years.
His ability to produce pressure from the interior of the line is unique, and it was sorely missing in the Chiefs' loss to the Lions. They were already playing without defensive end Charles Omenihu, who is serving a six-game suspension handed down by the NFL, and wound up sacking Detroit's Jared Goff just once.
Goes without saying that the group up front will need to do better against Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence on Sunday.
Just how much Jones will play in Jacksonville remains to be seen, but he was welcomed back Wednesday by a Kansas City locker room that consistently said throughout the offseason that it would stay out of his business.
“Happy to have him. Chris is not only a great player but a great person in the locker room,” Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes said. “Always has a smile on his face. Like I said early in training camp, whenever he gets back here, we're going to welcome him with open arms, and now we're going to try to get out there and get a win.”
NOTES: TE Travis Kelce was back at practice after hyperextending his knee last week. He missed the game against Detroit but Reid was optimistic he will be available in Jacksonville. “It's like Chris. They're good football players. We welcome them back in and we go,” Reid said, “but on the other hand, I expect the other guys to step up and do the job.”
Jaguars Coach Doug Pederson Seeking 1st Win Against Mentor and Close Friend Andy Reid
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Doug Pederson has known Andy Reid for nearly 30 years. He played for Reid in Green Bay and then Philadelphia in the late 1990s. He spent seven years coaching under Reid in Philadelphia and then Kansas City. They share offensive philosophies, coaching principles and core beliefs. They’ll share the field for the third time in 10 months when Pederson and the Jacksonville Jaguars host Reid and the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday. And Pederson is still looking for a breakthrough victory against his mentor and close friend.
This summary of area news is curated by KPR news staffers, including J. Schafer, Laura Lorson, Tom Parkinson and Kaye McIntyre. Our headlines are generally posted by 10 am weekdays and updated throughout the day. These ad-free headlines are made possible by KPR members. Become one today. You can also follow KPR News on Twitter.