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Chiefs kicker Butker says Pride Month is example of 'deadly sin'

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Chiefs kicker Butker says Pride Month is example of 'deadly sin'

Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker, speaking during a commencement speech at Benedictine College, referred to Pride Month, the events in June demonstrating inclusivity and support for the LGBTQ+ community, as an example of the “deadly sins” as he advocated for a more conservative brand of Catholicism.

“Not the deadly sins sort of Pride that has an entire month dedicated to it,” Butker said, “but the true God-centered pride that is cooperating with the holy ghost to glorify him.”

Butker spoke for more than 20 minutes to students at the Catholic school in Atchison, Kansas, saying he wanted the graduating class to prevent political leaders from interfering with social issues that impact their relationship with the church.

Butker, 28, criticized an Associated Press article on America’s Catholic Church, which detailed the institution’s shift “toward the old ways.” It highlighted Benedictine’s rules that “seem like precepts of a bygone age,” which include “volunteering for 3 a.m. prayers” and “pornography, premarital sex and sunbathing in swimsuits being forbidden.”

Butker said the story was an “attempt to rebuke and embarrass” places like Benedictine, and that it would be met with “pride” instead of “anger.”

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Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of GLAAD, a non-profit LGBTQ advocacy organization, said in a Wednesday statement Butker’s speech was “inaccurate, ill-informed and woefully out of step with Americans about Pride, LGBTQ people and women.”

“Those with expansive platforms, especially athletes, should use their voices to uplift and expand understand and acceptance in the world,” she said. “Instead, Butker’s remarks undermine experiences not of his own and reveal him to be one who goes against his own team’s commitment to the Kansas City community, and the NFL’s standards for respect, inclusion and diversity across the league.”

Benedictine, a college with more than 2,100 full-time undergraduates as of September 2022, describes itself as a liberal arts institution aimed at “the education of men and women within a community of faith and leadership.” Butker, who called on religious leaders “to stay in their lane and lead,” praised Benedictine for embracing what he called traditional Catholic values.

“When you embrace tradition, success, worldly and spiritual, will follow,” Butker said.

In October 2014, the school ordered basketball player Jallen Messersmith to remove a Pride flag from his dorm room window.

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Butker also used the speech to criticize President Joe Biden on several issues, including abortion and the coronavirus pandemic, and questioned Biden’s devotion to Catholicism. Butker also addressed gender ideologies and said a woman’s most important title is “homemaker.”

“It is you, the women, who have had the most diabolic lies told to you. Some of you may go on to lead successful careers in the world but I would venture to guess that the majority of you are most excited about your marriage and the children you will bring into this world,” Butker said.

The Chiefs did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

While the NFL isn’t in season during Pride Month, the league participates in LGBTQ+ initiatives. On the Wednesday before Super Bowl LVIII, the NFL hosted a “Night of Pride” event in partnership with GLAAD, the LGBTQ+ advocacy organization. The Chiefs are among the NFL teams that have a Pride selection of apparel with rainbow colors.

Kansas City is among the many North American cities that host Pride events during June, led by the KC Pride Community Alliance.

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Butker is a three-time Super Bowl champion with the Chiefs. He was a seventh-round draft pick in 2017 and made 33 of 35 field goals in the 2023 season.

(Photo: Chris Unger / Getty Images)

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Steelers QB Justin Fields shuts down kick returner rumor: 'I'm not here to do that'

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Steelers QB Justin Fields shuts down kick returner rumor: 'I'm not here to do that'

Justin Fields is one of the more athletic quarterbacks in the NFL, but don’t expect to see him fielding kick returns in 2024.

The Pittsburgh Steelers signal caller threw cold water on the idea that he would participate in any kick-return experiments. “Nah, I’m not here to do that,” Fields said on Tuesday, according to The Post-Gazette.

Fields was responding to the rumors that seemed to be sparked by Steelers running back Jaylen Warren’s recent appearance on his other teammate Cam Heyward’s “Not Just Football” podcast. 

Warren suggested that Pittsburgh’s special teams coordinator had floated the idea of putting Fields in the returner position during kickoffs this upcoming season.

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quarterback Justin Fields #1 of the Chicago Bears warms up prior to an NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings at Soldier Field on October 15, 2023 in Chicago, Illinois. (Todd Rosenberg/Getty Images)

But, Fields asserted that those comments were taken out of context.

“Nah, I think everybody kind of interpreted it wrong,” said Fields. “Coach Danny (Smith) was basically just trying to send a message that no matter who you are, you could be on special teams. He just used that as an example.”

JEROME BETTIS CONFIDENT STEELERS WILL BE ‘TOP-TIER’ TEAM OPPONENTS FEAR IN 2024

The 25-year-old also implied that the whole ordeal was a joke.

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“It’s funny how serious social media takes everything,” Fields continued. “It was kind of funny to me when everybody was making a big deal about it for no reason.”

Justin Fields warms up

Justin Fields #1 of the Chicago Bears warms up before a game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on January 07, 2024 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

The Chicago Bears decided to trade Fields to the Steelers in March in exchange for draft picks. He is expected to back up presumed starter Russell Wilson, although Fields said he will compete for the starting job.

Justin Fields runs the ball

Justin Fields #1 of the Chicago Bears takes off running during the first half against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on January 07, 2024 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (John Fisher/Getty Images)

“I’m definitely competing,” Fields told reporters earlier this month. “Russ knows that. We’re competing against each other every day.

“I definitely don’t have the mindset of me just sitting all year. I’m coming in here every day giving it all I got and pushing him to be his best, and he’s pushing me to be my best every single day.”

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The NFL is set to introduce wholesale changes to its kick-return rules in 2024. The move comes following a series of rules changes to make kickoffs safer. But, those changes also had the unintended consequence of making returns virtually obsolete.

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Rams' Stetson Bennett is getting back in form after improving mental health

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Rams' Stetson Bennett is getting back in form after improving mental health

During the final rep of practice Tuesday, Rams quarterback Stetson Bennett dropped back and — under the watchful eye of coach Sean McVay — completed a long pass to a receiver.

It was only a developmental drill.

Still, it was another step forward for Bennett, who has returned to the Rams after spending his rookie season away from the team while on the NFL’s non-football injury/illness list.

“It’s been cool to get back,” Bennett said afterward, adding, “Great to get back to football. It’s what I love and so it’s been pretty sweet.”

Bennett, a two-time national champion at Georgia, declined to specify the reason for his season away from football, saying several times he preferred to keep it “in-house.”

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A reporter asked if it would be accurate to say it fell under the umbrella of mental health, and improving his mental health.

“Yeah,” Bennett said, “I’d say that.”

Bennett’s future with the team remains to be determined but McVay said last week that Bennett “had a couple good days and it’s been good having him out here.”

The Rams selected Bennett in the fourth round of the 2023 draft to serve as Matthew Stafford’s backup and, possibly, his successor.

Bennett showed positive signs during the first two preseason games but struggled in the preseason finale at Denver. Before the season opener, he was put on the nonfootball injury/illness list because of an unspecified issue, and McVay remained vague throughout the season about Bennett’s situation.

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Rams quarterback Stetson Bennett (13), who started strong last preseason and struggled in the finale, runs from Chargers linebacker Brevin Allen (90) in a preseason game.

(Ryan Sun / Associated Press)

At midseason, the Rams cut veteran Brett Rypien after he played poorly in place of Stafford during a loss at Green Bay. The Rams signed veteran Carson Wentz, and Stafford returned to lead the Rams to a 10-7 record and playoff appearance.

But the Rams’ need for a capable backup remained pressing, especially as they prepared for a season in which they will be regarded as a possible Super Bowl contender.

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Stafford, 36, has two years left on the extension he signed after leading the Rams to a Super Bowl victory. The 15-year veteran is pressing for guaranteed salary beyond this season, however, an issue that came to light during the draft, and one that McVay has acknowledged the Rams are attempting to work through.

In March, the Rams signed Jimmy Garoppolo, giving them a proven veteran who has won regular-season and playoff games. Garoppolo is suspended for the first two games, however — against the Detroit Lions and Arizona Cardinals — for violating the NFL performance-enhancing substances policy while playing for the Las Vegas Raiders.

So Bennett’s ability to step in for Stafford early in the season could be more important than last season.

On Tuesday, Stafford and Garoppolo took reps during full-squad drills, with Bennett and Dresser Winn getting most of the work during individual periods.

Bennett is in “a good place” Rams offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur said.

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“He’s come to work every single day focused, with the intent of getting better, and that’s all you can ask these guys,” LaFleur said. “If their intent is right, which Stet’s is right now, that’s all you can ask, and it’s definitely showing.”

Bennett, 26, said he was nervous last week during his first day of practice.

“Hadn’t played football in a while and hadn’t talked to dudes in a huddle,” he said. “A lot of nerves the first day, but it’s gone, I wouldn’t say seamlessly, but it’s gotten better each day just like you try to make it.”

Bennett, a Georgia native, said his time spent at home was valuable and that he was thankful general manager Les Snead and McVay, “and everybody involved” allowed him to leave and now return.

The time away, he said, reinforced that he loved football.

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“You get to kind of see the world for the first time without football — like the first time ever and what that might be like,” he said. “It did make me, like, ‘Hey, this is, you want to do this and you want to work hard every single day and get better. It was different without it.‘ ”

How did he know he was ready to return?

“I’d say that one’s probably ‘piss or get off the pot,’” he said. “You kind of had to get back at some point.”

Now he is happy to be back, and playing the game he said he always has loved.

“I saw it for I think how I’ve always seen it,” he said of how he viewed football during his time away, “just a beautiful game, create relationships with your teammates, and then you go and you compete against the best and find out if you can, which I’m excited to get back to doing.”

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In the 'Mile of the Century,' Josh Kerr adds fuel to the Olympics' hottest rivalry

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In the 'Mile of the Century,' Josh Kerr adds fuel to the Olympics' hottest rivalry

EUGENE, Ore. — With about 700 meters to go in the Bowerman Mile, Josh Kerr, Great Britain’s star middle-distance runner, flipped the script in one of track’s most riveting rivalries. Because a message needed to be sent. Because Kerr had heard enough from Jakob Ingebrigtsen, the superstar from Norway, declaring he had no equal. Because beef brings something extra out of competitors.

So Kerr made his move early.

“I think it scared the coaching staff because they told me specifically not to do that,” Kerr said afterwards. “And I said, ‘If I feel like it’s time, I’m gonna go.’ … I don’t really listen to other people when it comes to race strategy. I’m going to go with my instinct.”

By the start of the second turn, Kerr was in the front. He’d surged past the UK’s Jake Wightman. Past American Yared Nuguse. Past Ingebrigtsen. Past Kenya’s Abel Kipsang. For the final 600 meters, in the marquee event and ultimate race Saturday at Hayward Field in the Prefontaine Classic, Kerr put his fiercest foe behind him. A rebuttal without words. He flaunted his confidence and training. He dared the world No. 1 to catch him.

Ingebrigtsen couldn’t. Not on this day.

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Kerr’s 3:45.34 established a new world-leading time in the mile and set a new British record. Most intriguing, though, was the layer of novelty it adds to the rivalry. Kerr’s move Saturday tweaked the board in this developing chess match between the greatest middle-distance runners in the world, adding more suspense to what’s possible when they duel for medals in Paris this August.

What a run by Josh Kerr!

It’s a new British record in the men’s mile race.#BBCAthletics #EugeneDL pic.twitter.com/lDnHddRWEe

It was Ingebrigtsen’s second consecutive loss to his fellow elites. So you just know his A-game is coming. The reigning Olympic gold medalist in the 1,500-meter will respond as champions do.

He ran 3:45.60, in Saturday’s mile, his first action since an Achilles tendon injury forced him to skip the indoor season.

“I tried to fight him,” said Ingebrigtsen, whose last race was the 3,000-meter at the 2023 Prefontaine Classic in September. “But to me, today was all about time trial. Of course, we’re racing but it’s definitely some difference in terms of approach to this race. For some people, this is their final test even before the Olympics in Paris. But this is not my final test. So it’s definitely a big difference the way that we all kind of see this race. But it’s a good fight.”

This race was so stacked with talent it was being dubbed the “Mile of the Century.” Amazon is following Ingebrigtsen around with cameras, documenting the Norwegian star’s run-up to Paris. This was the most hyped showdown of the year. The eyes of a global sport were on them. And it was Kerr’s Prefontaine debut.

He made it abundantly clear Friday that he came to the University of Oregon looking for some Norwegian smoke.

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“I’m not here to settle tension,” Kerr said. Sitting to his left when he said it: Ingebrigtsen. Kerr’s stern expression, the absence of reconciliation in his tone, revealed his level of fed up.

“I’m here to run a fantastic mile that will hopefully go down in the century. I’m here trying to be the best in the world. … And if that annoys people or ruffles up competitors, I’m sure it will because the whole world is trying to do what I’m doing.”

Settle tension? Nah. This is the hottest beef since Kendrick Lamar and Drake.

And, yes, Kerr listens to Kendrick.

“Yeah, of course,” he said, smiling to affirm he understood the reference.

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Kerr had every intention of turning the tension all the way up. He is convinced of his superiority in the discipline. Going out front so early was the kind of flex that fuels this juicy soap opera.

He usually plays the role of the kicker. It’s Ingebrigtsen who takes off early and dares the rest to keep up with him. It’s a power move. If his competitors get to conserve energy while he bears the brunt of pace-setting, and they still can’t catch him, it only proves his dominance. But Kerr didn’t hang back this time. He was trying to strike a chord, and it would likely be major.

“I’m having fun with it,” Kerr said. “At this point in your career, you’re always going to look back and think, ‘Those were the glory days.’ And I know they are right now. So I’m just enjoying it as much as possible.”

It was a stacked field. The world-leading time — the best in the calendar year — entering Prefontaine was 3:47.83 by Nuguse at the Millrose Games in New York in February. Saturday at Hayward Field, Wightman matched that time and finished fifth. Seven runners posted sub-3:49.

But after three of the four laps, Kerr, Ingebrigtsen and Nuguse had moved out ahead. It was underscored how this trio, heading into Paris, is the Big Three of middle distance.

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Nuguse, the American record holder, finished third at 3:46.22. He is for sure the J. Cole in this. Easily the most delighted of the trio, Nuguse has stayed out of the animosity. He keeps a smile worthy of an amusement park, as if it were painted by a caricature artist. Fitting for a future orthodontist. He consumes positive vibes only. He’d much rather break down Pokemon or vibe out to Taylor Swift than get into the competitive banter.

Getting to run in the shadows as an underestimated threat is, Nuguse said, one of the benefits of all the attention focused on the tension between Kerr and Ingebrigtsen. He believes it makes him dangerous in Paris.

“I’ve always believed that happiness is such a stronger emotion than anger,” Nuguse said Friday. “Especially when you race. Anger is something that kind of comes and goes and peters out really fast. But I think if you’re really enjoying what you’re doing, having fun, I think that’s what propels you on to keep moving and what really helps those last 200 meters. I’ve always thought that, and it’s always worked out for me.”

The track and field magazine Citius has a full timeline of the Kerr-Ingebrigtsen beef, which began in earnest in August 2023.

But for the sake of a crash course, it began at the Tokoyo Olympics in 2021. Ingebrigtsen became a global star when he blew away the field to win gold in the 1,500 meters in 3:28.32, besting Kenya’s Timothy Cheruiyot. Kerr used a late surge to capture the bronze.

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Then at the 2022 world championships in Eugene, with Ingebrigtsen still sparkling from golden glory, Wightman stunned him in the 1,500, pulling away in the final 300 meters to snatch the gold from Ingebrigtsen.


Josh Kerr leads Jakob Ingebrigtsen during the 1,500-meter final at the 2023 worlds. Kerr bested his rival again Saturday in Eugene, Ore. (David Ramos / Getty Images)

This made the 2023 world championships in Budapest the next massive stage for Ingebrigtsen to reclaim his status as superior. But a late surge by Kerr, similar to Wightman’s, pushed Ingebrigtsen to silver again. After he lost, Ingebrigtsen said he wasn’t 100 percent, taking a bit of luster from Kerr’s breakout victory.

When asked later if he looked forward to the rematch with Kerr, Ingebrigtsen revealed he wasn’t fully healthy and dismissed the notion of Kerr being on his level by calling him “just the next guy.”

In November, Kerr fired back. He said Ingebrigtsen’s ego is pretty high and he had major weaknesses he’d better address or he wouldn’t win gold in Paris.

In February, Ingebrigtsen told a Norwegian-language publication he’d win “98 out of 100 times” against Kerr and Wightman.

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Then two weeks later, after Kerr set a new world record in the two-mile in the Millrose Games, Ingebrigtsen — out with an injury at the time — declared he would’ve beaten Kerr blindfolded.

In March, Ingebrigtsen declared his rivals irrelevant and said to The Times UK, “The biggest issue is giving people like Kerr attention. That’s what he is seeking. He is missing something in himself that he is searching for in others.”

Yeah, the tension has been building for nearly a year now. Saturday was not the time to tone it down. But let feet do the talking. The packed house of savvy race fans at Hayward Field all but salivated over the palpable tension. Olympic-level drama at a Diamond League meet. What went down at Prefontaine on Saturday only makes it more captivating when they meet again in August.

“Some of my competitors,” Ingebrigtsen said, “have clearly taken a step in the right direction. But not as big of a step that maybe is needed to be a favorite in Paris.”

(Top photo of Josh Kerr beating Jakob Ingebrigtsen Saturday in the Bowerman Mile: Steph Chambers / Getty Images)

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