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5 Kansas City Chiefs roster battles fans need to watch this summer

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5 Kansas City Chiefs roster battles fans need to watch this summer


The Kansas City Chiefs’ work is never done, even with the first game not for many more months. While we wait for who they play in Week 1, the organization is readying for the dog days of summer where much of the roster takes shape.

If you pull up Kansas City’s depth chart on their team website, you will notice plenty of open spots in the starting roles. I mean, there is no point in updating the depth chart right now, but it is an ironic representation of how many jobs are up[ for grabs right now. Between departing free agents and underperformers, Chiefs Kingdom deserves to see some new blood in the starting 25.

Not all of these battles are for the top dog, but still important roles nonetheless. Let’s take a look at the five roster battles you need to watch this offseason.

Primary participants: Matt Araiza, Ryan Rehkow

The punting battle brewing in Kansas City is not your typical camp news—it promises to be an entertaining showdown. Chiefs Kingdom rejoiced when Veach added “Punt God” Matt Araiza to the roster, with his legal issues behind him. The Buffalo Bills released their 2022 sixth-round pick, who had been named their starting punter, following allegations from 2022, despite already having assigned him the role. With the lawsuits settled in December 2023, Araiza had a clear road back to the NFL.

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Araiza’s collegiate resume is impressive, boasting achievements like being a unanimous All-American and clinching the 2021 Ray Guy Award for the nation’s top collegiate punter. But professional sports is all about what a player has done lately, and it will be nearly two years between Araiza’s preseason with Buffalo and his performance in St. Joseph. Camp competition is always good, but Veach brought in an insurance policy for Araiza in rookie Ryan Rehkow.

The BYU alum signed as an undrafted free agent with the Chiefs after spending four years with the Cougars. He played in 50 games, landing on the Ray Guy Award watch list for three consecutive years from 2021 to 2023. In 2023, he concluded the season as the Big 12’s top punter, maintaining an average of 48.4 yards per punt, a feat that also secured him the second position nationally. His 31 punts greater than 50 yards led the conference by a wide margin as well. Rehkow has a powerful leg, one that could rival the rusty Araiza.

Tommy Townsend became a first-team All-Pro after the Chiefs signed him as an undrafted free agent a few years ago. Townsend signed with the Houston Texans at the beginning of the season, which opened up a spot alongside Harrison Butker. Araiza and Rehkow both have booming legs, with their drawbacks. In any case, Kansas City boasts two exceptional punting options to kick off the summer.



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Kansas City Chiefs kicker defends controversial commencement speech

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Kansas City Chiefs kicker defends controversial commencement speech


In his first public comments following a controversial speech at a recent college commencement, Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker defended his address and emphasized his Catholic faith.

“If it wasn’t clear that the timeless Catholic values are hated by many, it is now,” Butker said during a speech at the “Courage Under Fire” gala in Nashville on Friday night.

The Nashville speech was posted to X by right-wing media outlet The Daily Wire.

This is the first time the three-time Super Bowl champion has spoken publicly about his commencement address at Benedictine College, a small Catholic college in Kansas, on May 11. During his address, Butker made comments interpreted by many as homophobic and sexist, including calling Pride Month a “deadly sin” and saying that a woman’s accomplishments in the home are more valuable than any academic or professional goals, among other things.

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Friday night’s gala was hosted by Regina Caeli Academy – a hybrid campus/homeschool Catholic school group with several locations across the country. The gala boasted several other speakers including right-wing media personality and host at the Daily Wire, Matt Walsh.

“Over the past few days, my beliefs, or what people think I believe, have been the focus of countless discussions around the globe,” Butker, who is on the school’s board of directors, said.

Regina Caeli Academy did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment.

“At the outset, many people expressed a shocking level of hate. But as the days went on, even those who disagreed with my viewpoints shared their support for my freedom of religion,” Butker said Friday.

Butker reaffirmed his commitment to his Catholic faith, saying, “Our love for Jesus and thus our desire to speak out should never be outweighed by the longing of our fallen nature to be loved by the world.”

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During his speech, Butker referred to Saint Daniel, the biblical prophet who was thrown into a lion’s den for committing to prayer to God, despite a law that condemned worshipers to death.

“I can’t help but tremble at the thought of the courage many saints have shown in their lives,” Butker said.

Daniel was spared by God due to his commitment to faith, according to the Old Testament.

“Would I be so bold if the repercussion was what Daniel faced in being fed to lions? In reality, any courage I’ve shown will lead to some small suffering. And it will lead to some people maybe never liking me, but that could be God’s will,” the Chiefs kicker said.

The NFL issued a statement earlier this month, saying Butker’s comments don’t reflect the views of the league.

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Butker’s May 11 speech sparked criticism from LGBT advocacy organization GLAAD, which called his comments “a clear miss” and “woefully out of step with Americans about Pride, LGBTQ people and women.”

The sisters of Mount St. Scholastica monastery, a founding institution and sponsor of Benedictine College, also distanced themselves from Butker’s message. “The sisters of Mount St. Scholastica do not believe that Harrison Butker’s comments in his 2024 Benedictine College commencement address represent the Catholic, Benedictine, liberal arts college that our founders envisioned and in which we have been so invested,” they said in a statement. “Instead of promoting unity in our church, our nation, and the world, his comments seem to have fostered division.”

Fellow Chiefs star, Travis Kelce, recently responded to the commencement address, saying he does not agree with “just about any” of Butker’s views but values him as a teammate.

“I cherish him as a teammate. I think Pat (Mahomes) said it best where he is every bit of a great person and a great teammate,” Kelce said on the latest episode of the “New Heights” podcast he hosts with his brother, Jason.

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Kansas City Chiefs star Travis Kelce responds to Harrison Butker’s commencement address

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Kansas City Chiefs star Travis Kelce responds to Harrison Butker’s commencement address


Kansas City Chiefs star Travis Kelce weighed in on his teammate Harrison Butker’s controversial commencement speech at Benedictine College earlier this month.

Speaking on the Friday episode of his “New Heights” podcast with brother Jason Kelce, the tight end said he does not agree with “just about any” of Butker’s views but cherishes him as a teammate.

“He’s treated family and family that I’ve introduced to him with nothing but respect and kindness. And that’s how he treats everyone. When it comes down to his views and what he said at Saint Benedict’s commencement speech, those are his,” Kelce said. “I can’t say I agree with the majority of it or just about any of it outside of just him loving his family and his kids. And I don’t think that I should judge him by his views, especially his religious views, of how to go about life, that’s just not who I am.”

Butker made waves in his address to graduates at Benedictine College when he suggested women should be homemakers, railed against LGBTQ+ Pride Month and took at President Joe Biden and abortion. His comments sparked widespread backlash and the NFL distanced itself from the kicker’s comments. 

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“Harrison Butker gave a speech in his personal capacity,” Jonathan Beane, the NFL’s senior vice president and chief diversity and inclusion officer told CBS News in a statement. “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.”

While people online condemned his words, his jersey became one of the top-selling after the graduation.

Harrison Butker of the Kansas City Chiefs warms up prior to Super Bowl LVIII against the San Francisco 49ers at Allegiant Stadium on Feb. 11, 2024, in Las Vegas.
Harrison Butker of the Kansas City Chiefs made waves with a commencement address at Benedictine College.

Perry Knotts/Getty Images


Travis Kelce’s comments echoed those of his chief teammate and three-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

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Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Mahomes said that while he doesn’t agree with all the beliefs espoused by 28-year-old Butker, the Chiefs quarterback nevertheless respects his teammate’s right to make them be known.

“I’ve known Harrison for seven years. I judge him by the character he shows every single day,” Mahomes said after one of the Chiefs’ voluntary practices in Kansas City, Missouri. “We’re not always going to agree, and there are certain things he said that I don’t necessarily agree with. But I know the person he is and he’s doing what he can to lead people in the right direction.”

Chiefs coach Andy Reid said that while he “talks to Harrison all the time,” he didn’t believe he needed to discuss the commencement address with his kicker when the team reconvened in Kansas City.

“We’re a microcosm of life here,” Reid said. “We’re from some different areas. Different religions. Different races. But we get along. We all respect each others’ opinions, and not necessarily do we go by those, but we respect everyone to have a voice.”

During Friday’s podcast, Jason Kelce added: “There’s always going to be opinions that everybody shares that you’re going to disagree with.

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“And make no mistake about it, a lot of the things he said in his commencement speech are not things that I align myself with. But, he’s giving a commencement speech at a Catholic university, and, shocker, it ended up being a very religious and Catholic speech.

“To me, I can listen to somebody talk and take great value in it, like when he’s talking about the importance of family and the importance that a great mother can make, while also acknowledging that not everybody has to be a homemaker if that’s not what they want to do in life.”

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Jackie Robinson statue is rebuilt in bronze in Colorado after theft from Kansas park

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Jackie Robinson statue is rebuilt in bronze in Colorado after theft from Kansas park


As he coats a mold of Jackie Robinson with wax, metalsmith Alex Haines reflects on the extra importance of a project that will soon give the city of Wichita, Kansas, a replacement bronze statue of the baseball icon after thieves brazenly destroyed the original.

“Many sculptures come through here,” said Haines at the Art Castings studio in Loveland, Colorado, where the original statue was cast. “Some are a little bit more important than others. And this is definitely one of them.”

It all started in January, when thieves cut the original statue off at its ankles, leaving only Robinson’s cleats behind at McAdams Park in Wichita.

The bronze statue of legendary baseball pioneer Jackie Robinson was stolen from a park in Wichita, Kan., during the early morning hours of Jan. 25, 2024. AP

About 600 children play there in a youth baseball league called League 42.

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It is named after Robinson’s uniform number with the Brooklyn Dodgers, with whom he broke the major league’s color barrier in 1947.

The news spread wide, and a national outpouring of donations followed that enabled Wichita to quickly reorder a replacement.

“There’s been a lot of serendipity when it comes to League 42 throughout our entire existence,” said Bob Lutz, who is executive director of the Little League nonprofit that commissioned the statue.

“It’s almost like there’s somebody watching out for us. And certainly, in this regard, we feel like … there was a guardian angel making sure that we could do this statue again.”

Fire crews found charred remnants of his statue five days after the theft while responding to a trash can fire at another park about 7 miles away. AP

As news spread of the theft, the nonprofit was flooded with an estimated $450,000 to $500,000 in donations.

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That includes a $100,000 gift from Major League Baseball, which will cover the statue’s $45,000 replacement cost and other improvements, including landscaping and adding decorative bollards that will keep people from driving too close to the statue.

The rest of the money raised will go toward enhancing some of the nonprofit’s programming and facilities.

David Hobbs, an employee at Art Castings of Colorado, touches up a wax mold of Jackie Robinson’s head in Loveland, Colo. on May 8, 2024. AP

Last year, the group opened the Leslie Rudd Learning Center, which includes an indoor baseball facility and a learning lab.

There might even be enough money to add artificial turf and more lighting, Lutz said.

Another blessing for Lutz is that the replacement will look exactly like the original, which was created by his friend, the artist John Parsons, before his death in 2022 at the age of 67.

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That is possible because the original mold was still viable.

An employee at Art Castings of Colorado touches up a wax mold of Jackie Robinson’s jersey in Loveland, Colo. on May 8, 2024. AP

“If that wasn’t the case, I don’t know that I would feel as good about all this as I do,” Lutz said.

It looked dire five days after the theft, when fire crews found burned remnants of his statue while responding to a trash can fire at another park about 7 miles away from the scene of the theft.

One man has pleaded guilty, and the investigation continues into a crime that police have said was motivated not by racial animus but by plans to sell the bronze for scrap.

It was a stupid plan, said Tony Workman, owner of Art Castings of Colorado. The town where the business is located, around 50 miles north of Denver, is well known for its abundance of sculptors and artists.

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“The problem is you can’t get a fire in a dumpster hot enough to melt metal,” Workman said. “All you’re gonna do is burn the sculpture. So you’re still going to be able to tell what it was.”

Beyond rebuilding the statue, the severed bronze cleats from the original statue found a new home last month at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Missouri.

Brooklyn Dodgers’ infielder Jackie Robinson is photographed on April 18, 1948. AP

It is a fitting location. Robinson played for the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro Leagues before joining the Brooklyn Dodgers, paving the way for generations of Black American ballplayers.

He is considered not only a sports legend but also a civil rights icon. Robinson died in 1972.

“The outpouring of support that folks have gotten as a result of this, it reminds us that light indeed does come out of darkness,” said Bob Kendrick, the president of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.

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At the museum, the cleats are part of a display that also includes a gunfire-riddled plaque that had been erected outside Robinson’s birthplace near Cairo, Georgia.

The bronze Jackie Robinson cleats that were left behind during the theft. AP

“It renews our spirt and belief in people because sometimes people will do despicable things, and it makes you want to give up on people,” Kendrick said.

“But you know you can’t give up on people, even though sometimes you want to.”

On a recent morning, Emilio Estevez, a financial services worker from Miami, stopped to look at the cleats. He described Robinson as an inspiration — both because of this athleticism and his ability to put up with jeers while integrating the sport.

“We can all learn from that,” he said.

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And the thieves couldn’t take that away, Estevez said.

“He’s still in all our minds. He’s still very present, like here in the museum, very prevalent,” he said.



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