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Updated: 1 hour 56 sec ago

Broncos OL coach Mike Munchak on Garett Bolles’ penalties: “We’ll get it cleaned up”

1 hour 14 min ago

For Broncos left tackle Garett Bolles and offensive line coach Mike Munchak, it’s been a week of thoroughly looking at Bolles’ four holding penalties (two were declined) in the loss to the Chicago Bears and working to avoid a similarly poor performance at Green Bay on Sunday.

“You have to learn from it, move forward and not let it be a detriment,” Munchak told The Denver Post before practice Thursday. “We can’t let it be a drag on what he’s trying to accomplish or what we’re trying to accomplish or what the line is trying to do. You don’t want to hurt the team ever. You don’t know how the game would have turned out if those things didn’t happen.

“When negative things are happening, you do your best to keep guys on track. We can’t win with four. Not acceptable, we all know that, it goes without saying and we’ll get it cleaned up.”

Bolles’ 26 enforced holding penalties since he entered the NFL in 2017 as a first-round draft choice lead the league. His first penalty against the Bears was away from the play and negated a 20-yard run by Phillip Lindsay. His penalty on Bears pass rusher Khalil Mack was also enforced.

Munchak said he leans on his Pro Football Hall of Fame playing career and long coaching career as teaching points for Bolles.

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“I could tell him 10 stories about what happened to people and it’s not going to make him feel better; he shouldn’t feel better,” Munchak said. “Unfortunately, it happens in this sport and you have to clean it up quickly because you can’t win football games having negative plays. He knows that. It’s not like he’s not working hard in practice and technique isn’t important to him. He understands what he’s doing and what he’s trying to accomplish. He just needs to figure out a better way to do it if they’re calling certain things on you tightly. Don’t put yourself in that position – block that play a little differently.”

During his weekly appearance on the Broncos’ radio partner this morning, general manager John Elway said of Bolles’ penalties: “It’s got to stop, period. … The bottom line is, if he thinks he’s getting singled out, he is. He’s got to understand that. He’s got to understand what he’s doing. And that was the question (after the game) – ‘Does he know what holding is? Does he know what he can and can’t do?’ … He cannot do that because it’s beating us.”

This story will be updated.

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Josh Rosen to start at QB for Dolphins against Cowboys, source says

1 hour 18 min ago

DAVIE, Fla. — A person familiar with the decision says Josh Rosen will replace Ryan Fitzpatrick this week as the starting quarterback for the Miami Dolphins and try to jump-start a team that has been outscored 102-10 in the first two games.

The person confirmed the decision to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Thursday because the team had not announced the change.

Rosen, a second-year pro considered a potential franchise quarterback, will make his first start for Miami at Dallas on Sunday.

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Rosen was traded in April after only one season with the Arizona Cardinals, who took him in the first round of the 2018 draft. The rebuilding Dolphins are eager to stop a revolving door at the position that is on its 21st starter since Dan Marino’s last game 20 years ago.

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Denver minimum wage would be $13.80 in January under proposal

1 hour 23 min ago

A new proposal to set a local minimum wage for anyone who works in Denver would set the minimum at $13.80 per hour starting Jan. 1 and raise it to $15.87 a year later.

After that, the measure by Mayor Michael Hancock and Councilwoman At-large Robin Kniech would change the minimum annually based on the Consumer Price Index, not to exceed 15% or $1.75 an hour, whichever is greater.

Currently, all employers in Colorado must pay at least $11.10 an hour and is set to rise at a slower rate, reaching $12 next year. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, which hasn’t changed since 2009.

A new state law gives cities the right to raise local wages to higher rates, and Denver is the first to propose doing so.

Kniech and Hancock have promised a “robust stakeholder engagement” process. Dates for community meetings will be announced soon. In a written statement, Hancock said a wage hike would help families support themselves and stay in Denver.

The Denver City Council must vote on the proposal, which could happen in November.

Recent academic studies have come to contradictory conclusions about the effect of wage hikes in other cities. One study showed that employers in Seattle may have reduced hours for low-income workers, hurting their pay, while others based on different data have found no negative effects on employment.

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Aurora police arrest Smoky Hill High School student for investigation of having a gun on campus

1 hour 29 min ago

Aurora police arrested a Smoky Hill High School student on campus Thursday for investigation of having a gun at school, police and school officials said.

The name, age and grade of the suspect has not been released.

“This is a serious issue for a student to bring a gun to school,” Anthony Camacho, an Aurora police spokesman, said. “My understanding is that no one was threatened by the student with the gun.”

Cherry Creek Schools left messages with parents of Smoky Hill students on Thursday notifying them about the gun incident, according to a copy of the message provided by Abbe Smith, district spokeswoman.

A parent called the school Thursday to report that a student was potentially in possession of a gun, the message said.

“The student was located and the school immediately notified police, who responded to the scene. The student was searched and was found to be in possession of a gun,” the district message said.

RELATED: No one knows if Colorado programs are making schools safer, state auditor reports

Camacho said police arrested the boy, who will be taken to a juvenile detention facility.

Regardless of whether the student is 18, the legal age for possessing a gun, it is illegal for students to bring a gun to the school, he said.

“We want to thank Smoky Hill staff, district security and law enforcement for responding swiftly in this situation and keeping students safe,” the district message said. “We also want to thank the parent who alerted the school.”

The message urged parents to call Safe2Tell if they see or hear of potentially dangerous behavior.

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Nuggets sign veteran big man Tyler Zeller to non-guaranteed deal, source says

1 hour 54 min ago

A little under two weeks away from the start of training camp, the Nuggets are fortifying their depth in the post.

The Nuggets signed veteran big man Tyler Zeller to a non-guaranteed training camp contract, a league source confirmed to The Denver Post.

The 7-foot center is coming off a season in which he saw limited action with Atlanta and Memphis, averaging 7.7 points, 4.0 rebounds and 0.5 blocks in just six games.

Zeller has spent seven seasons in the NBA since being selected 17th overall in the 2012 draft by Dallas and immediately dealt to Cleveland. He has averaged 7.0 points, 4.4 rebounds and 0.6 blocks in 412 games during stints with Cleveland, Boston, Brooklyn, Milwaukee, Atlanta and Memphis.

With Nikola Jokic and Mason Plumlee both coming off runs at the FIBA World Cup, Zeller could get an opportunity at extended big man minutes during the preseason.

The Nuggets also have PJ Dozer on a training camp contract and enter camp with one open roster spot and both two-way spots filled by forward Tyler Cook and rookie big man Bol Bol.

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Colt suspends production of AR-15 for civilian market

2 hours 53 min ago

WEST HARTFORD, Conn. — Gunmaker Colt says it is suspending its production of rifles for the civilian market including the popular AR-15.

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Colt’s chief executive officer, Dennis Veilleux, says it is not permanently ending production but believes there is already an adequate supply of sporting rifles on the market. He said in a statement Thursday the company will concentrate on fulfilling military and law enforcement contracts with its rifle manufacturing.

The West Hartford, Connecticut-based company has received some criticism from gun rights advocates for moving away from the civilian market.

Veilleux said in the statement the company remains committed to the Second Amendment and is adapting to consumer demand.

A national gun control debate has focused on access to AR-15s and other assault-style rifles because of their use in mass shootings.

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Colorado Springs woman picks up injured bobcat, places wild animal in her SUV near a child

3 hours 3 min ago

A Colorado Springs woman picked up a wounded bobcat and placed it in her SUV near a child Wednesday, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife. CPW officers euthanized the animal because of its injuries.

“See this bobcat? Notice its large teeth. Imagine the claws within its big paws,” CPW wrote on Twitter. “A Colorado Springs woman picked up this injured wild cat and put it in her car where her child was seated! NEVER PICK UP WILD ANIMALS. She was lucky.”

This is the sight that greeted @COParksWildlife officer Sarah Watson when she responded to a call about an injured bobcat on Wednesday. An unrestrained wild bobcat in the back of an SUV under a blanket. A child's car seat was just feet away. NEVER PICK UP WILDLIFE! pic.twitter.com/x8GXL0zvNv

— CPW SE Region (@CPW_SE) September 19, 2019

 

The male adult bobcat was hit by a car and injured, said District Wildlife Manager Sarah Watson. The woman then covered the bobcat’s eyes and wrapped it in a blanket before placing it in the cargo area of her SUV. A child strapped in a car seat was in front of it.

The woman called CPW to explain what happened and wildlife officers met the woman at Academy Boulevard and Woodmen Road in Colorado Springs — a busy intersection — to remove the bobcat. It had been paralyzed and likely had internal injuries, so they euthanized it, Watson said. But even as Watson was removing the bobcat, it was hissing, growling and clawing at her, trying to protect itself.

When the woman had picked up the bobcat, it was dazed and too injured to react to being picked up and placed in the car, Watson said. She was lucky.

“It could have been a very dangerous situation for this woman if it had come to when she was picking it up,” Watson said.

Officials warned that nobody should ever attempt to pick up a wild animal and put it in a vehicle. They asked people to call any Colorado Parks and Wildlife office and have its officers handle the situation or even call 911 to report it.

CPW officials said bobcats can be seen throughout the city, which is why they wanted to raise awareness about keeping distance from wild animals.

“You never ever pick up wildlife whether it’s a fawn or bobcat or a bear cub,” CPW spokesman Bill Vogrin said. “You’re putting yourself in grave harm. This could have been a tragedy.”

 

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Rockies have played poorly away from Coors Field this year. Now they face a test on their final road trip.

3 hours 8 min ago

For the Rockies to be playoff contenders, they need to flirt with 50 wins at home and play at or around .500 baseball on the road.

They did so in 2017 and 2018 — including a franchise-record 44 road wins a year ago —  and made the playoffs both years. Heading into the Rockies’ final road trip starting Friday in Los Angeles, Colorado’s 26-49 road record is second-worst in the National League, better only than the Marlins.

“Obviously there’s not much stake in it for us, but we don’t feel that way,” shortstop Trevor Story said. “We’re going to attack this road trip, and try to be spoilers as much as we can.”

About the only thing left to play for is getting out of the National League West cellar. The Rockies are acutely aware they can help derail the Dodgers from securing baseball’s best regular-season record and, thus, home-field advantage in the World Series.

The team has shown life of late, with back-to-back series wins as the team’s positional core (Story, Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon) pad their statistics and September call-ups get a chance to perform on a big-league stage.

This road trip to Los Angeles and San Francisco will provide a solid litmus test for those prospects, such as outfielder Sam Hilliard, catcher Dom Nunez and infielder Josh Fuentes.

The Rockies will face a gauntlet of star pitchers in Los Angeles, with future Hall of Famer Clayton Kershaw going game one, Cy Young Award candidate Hyun-Jin Ryu going in game two and phenom Walker Buehler starting game three.

Manager Bud Black views that as a good thing.

“It’s all part of the process, to see their at-bats,” Black said. “It gives (the young guys) another box to check, to face Kershaw, face Ryu, face Buehler, so that awe factor can wear off. These are all steps.”

The same tests apply to the hoard of unproven arms Colorado has been using. Rookie Peter Lambert (11.12 ERA in three starts against the Dodgers) throws the opener and he’s backed by a bullpen laden with call-ups such as southpaws Sam Howard and Phillip Diehl.

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Which was worse: This Colorado man’s bachelor party hangover or the hangover from his $12,460 ER bill?

3 hours 11 min ago

By Markian Hawryluk, Kaiser Health News

Two days before his wedding, Cameron Fischer had one heck of a bachelor party, hitting a few bars in the Old Town section of Fort Collins, with his friends into the wee hours. The next morning, the 30-year-old IT professional from nearby Loveland woke up with a killer hangover.

“I couldn’t keep anything down,” Fischer said. “I just felt miserable.”

He was in such bad shape that, with their wedding day fast approaching, Fischer’s fiancée urged him to leave their rehearsal dinner in Denver and head to an emergency room to be rehydrated.

That resulted in an even bigger headache: a medical bill that was initially $12,460, all told. That was more than twice the cost of their wedding.

Fischer’s case is a sobering illustration of America’s health care system. With few constraints on how emergency rooms set prices, hospital systems have jacked up rates and coded patient visits as being more complex than previously, which increases the payments they receive from insurance plans. The result: ER services have some of the fastest-growing prices in the health care system.

Many health economists think free-standing ER facilities, like the one Fischer visited — which are banned in many states but thriving in Colorado — are particularly culpable. While such ERs maintain they can’t survive on rates paid by Medicare and Medicaid, data suggests they are profit-seeking engines built primarily in high-income ZIP codes.

“It’s because they’ve figured out that they can get away with it,” said Vivian Ho, an economist with the Baker Institute at Rice University in Houston.

Fischer might have avoided the big bill had he sought treatment earlier in the day. But by 7 p.m. on a Saturday, urgent care facilities were closed. He checked Google Maps for the closest emergency room and — clutching a trash can — headed to HealthONE North Suburban Medical Center, a free-standing ER in the Denver suburb of Thornton.

The ER appeared to be devoid of patients, just a doctor and a couple of nurses on duty. Fischer told them what had happened, that he didn’t do drugs and doesn’t often drink.

“I knew exactly why I was there,” he said. “It wasn’t that I had some unknown reason for my symptoms.”

A nurse started an IV, gave Fischer two bags of saline and a dose of Zofran, an anti-nausea medication. She drew blood, although Fischer said he wasn’t told what tests would be run on the blood sample. He was out of the ER within 45 minutes, feeling much better.

Facility fees as price of entry

A few weeks after Fischer’s April wedding, he received the medical bill.

It included a $7,644 “facility fee” — an expense hospital systems charge to cover their overhead costs of keeping an ER open 24 hours a day and ready for any emergency.

Facility fees are set on a scale from 1 to 5, depending on how severe the patient’s condition appears during the initial triage. The ER rated Fischer’s visit as a 4, one of moderately high complexity in terms of care needs.

“There are no limitations on the facility fees that they can charge,” said Adam Fox, director of strategic engagement for the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative, a nonprofit consumer advocacy group. “The facility fee for over $7,000 is simply obscene.”

The Health Care Cost Institute, an independent, nonprofit health research firm, recently analyzed millions of insurance bills to get a better sense of the facility fees ERs were charging. It found the charges nearly doubled from 2009 to 2016, outpacing overall health spending four times over. In Colorado, the average facility fee charged for a Level 4 visit grew from $1,064 to $2,336.

Insurance plans generally don’t pay the full charge but pay a negotiated rate for in-network hospitals. The Center for Improving Value in Health Care, which maintains a database of insurance payments in Colorado, found that insurance plans paid an average of $1,754 for a Level 4 facility fee in 2018.

Still, those prices pale in comparison to the fee charged to Fischer. “That seems like an outlier on the high end,” said John Hargraves, a senior researcher at the institute who led the ER study. “That’s more than triple what it was in 2016.”

Other studies have found that ERs are increasingly coding visits at the higher 4 and 5 complexity levels than in past years. It’s not clear whether that reflects a deliberate attempt by hospital systems to increase payments or a shift in the type of patients who visit emergency rooms. It’s possible the growth in urgent care centers is siphoning off less complex cases.\

Courtesy of Cameron FischerThe bill for Fischer’s emergency room visit was $12,460 — more than twice the cost of his wedding the next day. Treatment costs for a hangover

Fischer’s bill included $500 for a complete blood count, a test the online price comparison tool Healthcare Bluebook says could be had for less than $20 in a doctor’s office. He was charged more than $1,300 for a complete metabolic panel, a routine test that generally costs about $31.

The two liters of saline, which the ER billed at $700, are available at Walmart for $10.99 a liter.

And spa-like hydration services in Denver market IV fluids for hangover relief consisting of the same combination of saline and nausea meds that Fischer received in the ER for just $168.

The ER also charged Fischer $970 for a drug test, something he said he never consented to undergo. Medicare typically pays health care providers about $114 for the same test.

“When you look at the bill, obviously the prices are astronomical,” Fischer said. “But it was also the work that was performed without my authorization. That was pretty frustrating.”

HealthONE officials said the prices at its ERs are higher than at urgent care clinics or other outpatient settings because the ERs are staffed by board-certified emergency physicians and cannot turn away any patients regardless of their ability to pay. So the patients who pay for care at their ERs subsidize those who show up and can’t pay.

“The move toward higher-deductible insurance plans has put a strain on many of our patients, but we understand their choice to pay a lower monthly premium, and we also understand their frustration with the larger out-of-pocket expenses they may experience as a result,” HealthONE North Suburban Medical Center spokeswoman Betty Rueda-Aguilar said, in a written statement to Kaiser Health News. She added that Fischer presented with symptoms of alcohol poisoning and had to be treated accordingly. The company declined an interview.

Emergency rooms tend to lose money on critically ill patients, as well as on Medicare, Medicaid and uninsured patients, said Dr. Jesse Pines, national director of clinical innovation for US Acute Care Solutions, which helps staff more than 200 hospitals and ERs. These facilities try to make up the difference with less sick, privately insured patients, like Fischer.

“To make the economics of an emergency department work, those patients have to subsidize the system to make the difference balance out,” Pines added.

But as more privately insured patients have high-deductible plans, he said, it’s been harder and harder for hospitals to collect on their bills from patients who don’t pay.

Free-standing ERs

Free-standing ERs, such as North Suburban, may have found a way to skew their patient mix toward those who can pay. A report from the Colorado Health Institute found that free-standing ERs tend to set up shop in high-income neighborhoods. There, residents are more likely to have higher-paying commercial insurance, rather than Medicare or Medicaid, and are likelier than other patients to be able to pay for out-of-pocket costs their insurance doesn’t cover.

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Colorado has more than 50 free-standing ERs, according to the report, trailing only Texas and Ohio. They are licensed as “community clinics and emergency centers,” a designation originally developed to help rural and underserved communities in Colorado that could not otherwise afford inpatient hospitals. But the report identified only eight free-standing emergency departments in rural Colorado — all in affluent ski resort towns.

For Fischer, the negotiated rates under his health plan knocked the $12,460 bill down to $4,694. The plan paid $2,102. That left Fischer with a bill of $2,593, an amount he said he cannot afford to pay.

“That’s quite the expensive bachelor party,” Fischer said.

Kaiser Health News is a nonprofit news service covering health issues. It is an editorially independent program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, which is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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Stock Show names Bruce and Mary Benson 2020 Citizens of the West

3 hours 12 min ago

The National Western Stock Show on Tuesday announced Marcy and Bruce Benson have been named the 2020 Citizens of the West.

The annual award recognizes “those who embody the spirit and determination of Western pioneers and perpetuate the West’s agriculture heritage and ideals,” according to a press statement from the Stock Show, following last year’s naming of Greeley businessman Robert G. Tointon.

The Bensons will receive their award at a dinner on Jan. 13, 2020, at the National Western Events Center, which coincides with the National Western Stock Show.

Bruce Benson recently retired as president of the University of Colorado, while Marcy Benson has worked for Republican presidents in Washington, D.C., and served on various local and national boards and fundraising committees.

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Xcel Energy-Colorado’s proposed rate increase to face public scrutiny

3 hours 17 min ago
Xcel Energy-Colorado’s requested rate increase would go into effect Jan. 1, 2020 if approved by the Public Utilities Commission.

The Colorado Public Utilities Commission will begin taking public comment next week on a rate increase Xcel Energy-Colorado proposed in May.

The increase would net the company an additional $158 million a year, which would be used to offset the costs of upgrading its infrastructure. The Minneapolis-based utility has made $4.1 billion in investments in the past five years, including “in next-generation technology to strengthen and improve the resiliency of the electric grid,” according to a news release from the PUC.

Xcel Energy said if the increase is approved, residential customers’ bill would rise an average of about 6.5 percent for an average monthly increase of $4.46. Typical small-business customers would see their bill increase by about 6.7 percent, or $6.75 a month.

In the news release, the company also said the new revenue would go toward preventing wildfires and reducing the risk of damage because of fires.

Xcel has about 1.5 million customers in Colorado. It last sought a rate increase in 2014.

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The public hearing will be from 4-6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 26, at the Mesa County Commissioners Public Hearing Room, 544 Rood Ave., in Grand Junction. A second hearing will be from 4-7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 6, at the PUC, 1560 Broadway, Suite 250, in Denver.

An evidentiary hearing is also scheduled for Nov. 4-8 and 12-13 at the PUC.

The company wants the new rates to go into effect Jan. 1, 2020.

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Denver’s Adeline Gray becomes first American wrestler to win five world titles

3 hours 34 min ago

Denver’s Adeline Gray, who has dominated women’s wrestling for the better part of a decade, made history Thursday by becoming the first American to win five world championship titles.

Gray, a graduate of Bear Creek High School, defeated two-time bronze medalist Hiroe Minagawa Suzuki of Japan 4-2 at the world championships in Kazakhstan. With her fifth world gold, Gray broke a tie for most U.S. world titles at four with John Smith, Tricia Saunders and Jordan Burroughs. Burroughs could win another this weekend.

Gray, 28, figures to be a major player next year at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

“When you’re becoming that person that breaks records and (is) making legends instead of just hall-of-fame-type stuff, she’s making her mark again,” said her father George, a Denver police officer who was in Kazakhstan to watch Adeline compete. “She’s beat up and sore and hurting all the time, but we know that’s the sport. When you get this age, it hurts more and more. She’s 28, we still think that’s pretty prime (age). She was able to win early on in her career. The longevity of this is amazing.”

Gray previous won world titles in 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2018. She claimed bronze medals in 2011 and 2013.

The only thing she lacks is an Olympic medal. She failed to make the Olympic team in 2012 and was upset in the quarterfinals at the Rio Games in 2016. She didn’t make excuses that day, but disclosed months later that she injured one of her shoulders a month before Rio. Surgery to repair the damage prevented her from competing in the 2017 world championships.

Gray no longer is based at the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, her longtime home away from home. She has a home in Georgia with her husband, U.S. Army Capt. Damaris Sanders, but spends most of her time traveling.

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Aramark finalizes concessionaire contract with Empower Field at Mile High; mobile ordering debuts in club level

3 hours 46 min ago

A new service provider for food and drink service at Broncos games debuted against the Raiders last week with the unveiling of a $7 million investment for concession upgrades at Empower Field at Mile High.

Aramark and the Metropolitan Football Stadium District finalized a 10-year agreement Wednesday for the Philadelphia-based company to serve as the stadium’s general concessionaire after Mile High’s previous contract with Centerplate expired. Aramark, recently replaced as the concessionaire at the Pepsi Center, had operated on an interim contract at Mile High since February.

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As part of the 164-page contract, a $20 million commitment from Aramark is required for concession upgrades, including the $7 million rollout Sunday. New concession advancements included self-service checkouts, walk-through drink coolers, digital menu boards and more. Jay Roberts, Stadium Management Company general manager, said it was the first in a multi-phase improvement plan with new food/drink items also available for purchase.

Additionally, Sunday’s game was the introduction of mobile food and drink orders for club level guests with in-seat delivery offered at no additional charge.

“Eventually, guests will be able to access the service through the Broncos App, but that is still in development,” said David Freireich, Aramark’s senior director of corporate communications. “In the meantime, guests sitting in these designated sections/seats receive instructions on how to access the app via text or a QR code.”

Aramark will pay the SMC a commission of 26.5% from the gross receipts of all sales from each event held at Mile High. Its concessionaire contract with the stadium runs through March 31, 2029.

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In diverse Toronto, the Raptors’ sports hijab is hailed as a win for inclusivity

3 hours 49 min ago

TORONTO — As Paul Jones browsed through the Toronto Raptors’ apparel shop at Scotiabank Arena on Tuesday afternoon, the team’s radio and TV broadcaster spotted a rack of hijabs bearing the Raptors’ claw logo along with the Nike swoosh.

The head coverings, worn in public by some Muslim women, have not always been accepted by major sports organizations. Now, they are being marketed and sold by the Raptors and Nike as part of an inclusive initiative inspired by Muslim women basketball players in Toronto.

“It’s part of our world — including people,” said Jones, who has been with the franchise for 24 years. “I like it. It says to me, ‘We include you. You’re part of this.’ ”

The Raptors unveiled their team-specific Nike Hijab Pro on Friday with a promotional video, becoming the first NBA team to license officially branded hijabs. In the days since, the headwear has inspired reaction across North America, but especially among the Muslim community in Greater Toronto, which numbers more than 400,000, according to the latest census data in 2011.

“People who aren’t Raptors fans or who aren’t Muslims or who aren’t female are seeing this as a step in the right direction for multiculturalism in Toronto and celebrating diversity,” said Amreen Kadwa, the founder of the Hijabi Ballers, the Muslim women’s basketball group that was founded in 2017 and plays every Sunday in Toronto.

Inspired by those brave enough to change the game.

The Toronto Raptors Nike Pro Hijab is available now.#WeTheNorth pic.twitter.com/D1fY1mWGhy

— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) September 13, 2019

Sports governing bodies have been slow to embrace the hijab. Until a rule change in 2017, head coverings, including the hijab and Jewish yarmulkes, were banned by the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) due to concerns that they might pose safety risks during game play. A Change.org petition, which was accompanied by the “#FIBAAllowHijab” campaign, received more than 132,000 signatures in support of Muslim women athletes. Similarly, the International Soccer Federation (FIFA) banned head coverings until 2014, a rule that restricted the Iranian women’s team from competing in multiple international tournaments.

The idea to conceive and sell the hijab was a “Raptors-led initiative,” according to an NBA spokesperson, but the league, which has focused on tolerance and diversity under Commissioner Adam Silver, expressed no reservations. Although it’s not yet clear whether other NBA and WNBA teams will follow suit with their own versions, executives from both leagues have prioritized creating products that appeal to their global fan bases and to their diverse player pools. The feedback from the NBA has been “very supportive and positive,” said Jerry Ferguson, senior director for marketing for Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, the Raptors’ parent group.

In May, as the Raptors were advancing in the playoffs en route to their championship, Ferguson read a newspaper feature about the Hijabi Ballers and wanted to know what the group thought of wearing a Raptors-branded hijab. The players liked it and agreed to appear in the promotional video.

“We think it’s beautiful film that shines a bright, beautiful spotlight on those young women who are playing basketball,” said Ferguson, who also asked the Hijabi Ballers to assist with some messaging through the large Muslim community, many of whom have become Raptors fans.

The National Council of Canadian Muslims praised the Hijabi Ballers for inspiring the Raptors.

“One of the beautiful things about sports is that everyone can play,” Mustafa Farooq, the council’s executive director, told the Associated Press. “We thank the Raptors for taking this step.”

Jones, the team broadcaster, is also a former elementary school principal, and said he foresees the message of including others filtering down through schools in Canada.

“You can now have kids in grades five and six playing in their school tournaments wearing them. Why? Because Nike and the Raptors have said it’s okay,” he said. “Before, people who didn’t know or who didn’t accept would look and say, ‘Why is that kid wearing that?’ Now it’s a powerful endorsement.”

About a half-hour drive west of Toronto in the suburb of Mississauga, Heba Mousa has already seen such benefits. Her 14-year-old daughter was concerned about volleyball tryouts because she was set to wear a hijab for the first time. But she felt better after watching the video featuring the Hijabi Ballers. Her mother took her to a Nike outlet, where there was only one hijab left.

“She was really worried about wearing a hijab because she really wanted to continue to pursue playing volleyball,” Mousa said of her daughter. “It’s nice to see other role models on social media who have decided to continue to wear or start wearing a hijab.”

Shireen Ahmed, a member of the Hijabi Ballers’ advisory board and a sportswriter, activist and podcaster, said having the item sold by the massively popular, title-winning Raptors certainly helps, too.

“There are high school teams and varsity teams in the U.S. and Canada that have purchased sports hijabs to match their uniforms, but this is a pro sports teams selling merchandise,” she said. “I am not surprised it was the Raptors because this is one of the places where this will fly. But I hope it is really something that other leagues take note of. I’d really love to see the WNBA do it.”

The WNBA has not yet had a player request to wear a hijab during games, but the league would allow it, according to people familiar with the matter.

Ferguson, the Raptors marketing executive, said he wanted the team to represent more of its fans.

“This is why this thinking makes this so powerful and special,” Ferguson said.

Even though a pro basketball team is selling the product, the Nike hijab has found buyers in other sports since first hitting shelves in 2017.

When she’s sparring and in competition, Lareb Hussain, a boxer in Toronto, puts a scarf around her head with the head gear atop. In training, she wears a toque, but she said that’s “sweaty and gross,” so she is looking forward to trying this new hijab under her head gear.

“This will open up the field of sports for women who wear the hijab,” Hussain said. “There’s a whole range of combat arts that involve Muslim women around the world. We’re part of this whole society of Muslim female fighters.”

Mehnaaz Bholat also sees possibility in the new hijab. She didn’t play basketball in high school because her parents wouldn’t allow her to wear shorts, which would go against her religious views by displaying her legs. Now a 29-year-old mother of two, she wears track pants and a hijab when playing with the Hijabi Ballers, which she joined this year.

“I wish I had a girl, so she could see all this,” said Bholat, who has 4-year-old and 19-month-old boys. “But I hope when my boys grow up they will see that sports are not just meant for boys and that being Muslim doesn’t stop you from playing sports.”

The Washington Post’s Ben Golliver contributed to this report from Los Angeles.

Categories: All Denver News.

Paxton Lynch: “I have gotten a humbling,” former Broncos QB says after signing with Steelers

4 hours 12 min ago

It’s been a long, winding road for Paxton Lynch since he was selected by the Broncos in the first round of the 2016 NFL draft.

On Tuesday, the 6-foot-7 quarterback was signed to the Pittsburgh Steelers‘ practice squad. In an interview with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, he said: “I never really had a big ego or felt like I needed to be humbled, but I have gotten a humbling.”

After being cut by the Broncos prior to the start of the 2018 regular season, Lynch worked out with a number of teams before being signed to the Seahawks in the offseason. He lost the backup job to Geno Smith and was cut at the end of preseason.

Pittsburgh signed Lynch after starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger went on the injured reserve after suffering an elbow injury Sunday that ended his season. Lynch is the third quarterback on the team behind starter Mason Rudolph and backup Devlin Hodges.

“It feels good to get on a team and kind of get back in the rhythm of a season,” he told the Tribune-Review.

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Lynch said he wasn’t sure why the Broncos cut him prior to the start of the 2018 regular season, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

“Teams move on,” Lynch told the Post-Gazette. “They make their decision. It’s a business. I don’t have any hard feelings over it. I really enjoyed my time with those guys. It was really good to be around them. I wish things would have worked out.”

Lynch, 25, played in three preseason games with the Seahawks this year, completing 18 of 37 passes for 180 yards and a touchdown. He also had 43 yards rushing on 11 carries and a TD.

In two seasons in Denver, he played in five games (four starts), completing 61.7% of his passes for 792 yards, four touchdowns and four interceptions.

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Merriam-Webster adds non-binary pronoun “they” to dictionary

5 hours 5 min ago

Merriam-Webster added a new definition of the word “they” to its dictionary, declaring the pronoun may be used to refer to a “single person whose gender identity is nonbinary.”

“They” is a liberating pronoun for many non-binary individuals who identify as genders other than male or female. For many Americans, the use of “they” as a singular pronoun can be ungrammatical and confusing.

But Merriam-Webster’s announcement, made on Twitter on Tuesday, marked an official stamp of approval on a term that has become increasingly common as non-binary identities become more visible than ever.

State and city governments, including in the District of Columbia, California and New York, have begun offering a gender option of “X” on identification cards. Airlines, school districts and colleges nationwide are also allowing alternative gender markers.

“Language responds to social change. Things that need to be expressed get expressed,” said Dennis Baron, professor emeritus of English and linguistics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In recent years, a number of journalism style guides have allowed the gender-neutral pronouns. The Associated Press in 2017 announced it would permit journalists to use the singular “they” in limited cases, and The Washington Post has formally recognized the new pronouns since 2015.

But in a blog post written before Tuesday’s announcement, Merriam-Webster noted that “they” has been used as a singular pronoun since the late 1300s, “and that regardless of what detractors say, nearly everyone uses the singular they in casual conversation and often in formal writing.”

“There have always been people who didn’t conform to an expected gender expression, or who seemed to be neither male nor female. But we’ve struggled to find the right language to describe these people-and in particular, the right pronouns,” the blog post stated. The singular “they,” it said, is “not quite as newfangled as it seems: we have evidence in our files of the nonbinary they dating back to 1950, and it’s likely that there are earlier uses of the nonbinary pronoun they out there.”

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Many English speakers consider dictionaries to be “constitutional,” authorities, Baron said. “They want to have some kind of stability in language that they can point to and say ‘here’s the rules.” In reality, Baron said, dictionaries are not intended to set rules on how people should behave. “They’re a general indication of how language is being used at a particular time,” Baron said. But the inclusion in Merriam-Webster of a singular “they” for non-binary individuals is a significant recognition that the new pronouns have reached the mainstream. Baron, who is publishing a book next year called “What’s Your Pronoun?: Beyond He and She,” said he knew the singular “they” was “here to stay” as soon as people started arguing about its correct grammatical usage. For example, should the reflexive form be “themself” or “themselves?” The question is still under debate. “If people are already worried about how you express singular ‘they’ correctly, then it is already established,” Baron said.

In recent months, a number of celebrities have come out as non-binary. Last week, Sam Smith declared on Twitter that the singer has decided to go by the non-binary pronouns they/them, adding that “after a lifetime of being at war with my gender I’ve decided to embrace myself for who I am, inside and out.”

“I understand there will be many mistakes and mis gendering but all I ask is you please please try,” Smith tweeted. “I hope you can see me like I see myself now.”

The new definition of “they” was among 530 new words added to the dictionary, Merriam-Webster said Tuesday. Among the other new words were “deep state,” “dad joke” and “free solo.”

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Healthy Akil Jones making impact on CU Buffs defense

5 hours 6 min ago

The way things were going for Akil Jones, it was beginning to feel like he might not ever make an impact on the Colorado defense.

Finally healthy, however, the junior linebacker has stepped up in the past two games, coming off the bench to deliver from key plays for the Buffaloes.

“I feel like we have a ton of guys who could step up and fill the role like at any second, but I’m just thankful that the coach saw me and gave me the opportunity to step up, and I’m just happy I made some plays,” Jones said.

Jones recorded a career-high 10 tackles in 41 snaps played off the bench during Saturday’s 30-23 overtime loss to Air Force. It was a performance that could lead to more playing time for Jones as the Buffs (2-1) prepare for Saturday’s Pac-12 opener at No. 24 Arizona State (3-0).

The 6-foot, 230-pound Jones, from San Jose, Calif., is in his fourth season with the Buffaloes, but up until this year he spent his time behind veterans, while also dealing with injuries. Coming into this year, he had played a total of 40 career snaps on defense, with seven tackles.

Now, for the first time, the Buffs are leaning on him in crucial situations.

During a Sept. 7 win against Nebraska, Jones came off the bench to record four tackles in 13 snaps. He’s also got two tackles for loss and three third-down stops this season.

Despite the lack of overall experience, Jones has displayed no hesitation as he has relieved starter Jonathan Van Diest in the last two games.

“I just got enough reps in practice,” he said. “I feel like practice is honestly harder than the game; that’s just being honest. So when I stepped out there on the field, I was like, ‘Our scouts are giving us a better look than our own opponents.’ It’s really great. We got everybody working together to get better and it’s just become second nature.”

In 2017, Jones dealt with a sports hernia. Last year, it was ankle injury that bothered him. Then, this year, on the third day of fall camp, he suffered a deep laceration to his leg after, he believes, a teammate’s cleats ripped through the skin below his knee. The injury was similar to what CU safety Aaron Maddox experienced last week against Air Force.

“It took me out for longer than I thought it would,” he said. “I ended up being out for pretty much the entire fall camp.”

Jones credits CU’s medical staff for getting him back on the field as soon as possible, but with all of his bad luck, Jones wasn’t sure when he’d get an opportunity to play.

“Everyone comes from high school as the star player and everybody thinks they’re going to play (in college),” he said, “but then once the reality hits, you have to go back to humbling yourself and understanding, ‘How did you get there in the first place to be in that star in high school?’ and it was hard work just sticking with it. I feel like I came back to that and coaches are recognizing it and I’m just happy to be a part of this program.”

Coming back from his latest injury, Jones needed a few weeks to return to football shape, but said during the Air Force game he felt like he was in much better shape.

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Going forward, Jones will continue to battle for playing time. Junior Nate Landman is the Buffs’ leader at inside linebacker, but Jones and Van Diest will fight for playing time.

“I’m pretty confident (in knowing the defense),” he said. “I’m still learning a few of the packages. For the most part I feel pretty confident out there being able to make calls and checks and everything. But you know, I’m trying to get to the next level and not only know what I’m doing, but the guys next to me.”

For Jones, it feels good to put his injury frustration aside and focus on his job on the field.

“Nobody wants to be injured, but it’s just something you can’t think about when you’re out there,” he said. “You just gotta go 100 percent and just hope for the best because the moment you start dwelling on it and hoping you don’t get injured, that’s when it happens.”

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Colorado Rapids podcast: Recapping the loss to Toronto FC, looking ahead to Sporting KC

5 hours 14 min ago

Hello Rapids fans! This week on Holding The High Line, Rabbi and Red are discussing the weirdest trophies in American Soccer. The guys review the loss to Toronto FC with Good Thing Bad Thing, Big Thing, We discuss missed opportunities for the Pids, a poor start, and yes, that Jozy Altidore foul.

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We then turn to Sporting KC. Mark and Matt recap what’s gone wrong for Sporting in 2019, where they’re at after their rotten week last week, and what they could look like against Colorado Rapids on Saturday.

Holding The High Line has partnered up with the Denver Post to sustainably grow soccer journalism in Colorado. Listeners can get a three month trial of the Denver Post digital for 99¢/month. Go to denverpost.com/hthl to sign up. This will give you unlimited and full access to all of the Post’s online content and will support local coverage of the Rapids. Each month after the trial is $11.99/month. There is a sports-content-only option for $6.99/month.

If you like the show, please consider subscribing wherever you get your podcasts, reviewing the show on said podcatcher, and telling other soccer fans about us. It really does help. For a full list of where to find us, click here. Follow us on Twitter @rapids96podcast. You can email the show at rapids96podcast@gmail.com. If you love us and want to give us money, head on over to our Patreon page. For full transcripts of every episode, check us out on AudioBurst.

Our artwork was produced by CR54 Designs. Juanners does our music.

Categories: All Denver News.

Boulder e-scooter demos helping city officials craft regulations to end ban

5 hours 49 min ago

E-scooter businesses have their sights set on Boulder, and city officials are prepping for their arrival.

Despite a temporary ban on e-scooter companies operating in the city, packs of riders have been rolling up and down streets for a couple hours at a time over the last two weeks, including midday Wednesday.

The Boulder Chamber hosted one of five demonstrations on Wednesday in the Flatiron Business Park off of 55th Street with several e-scooter companies present with vehicles ready to test ride. Dozens of workers in the multi-building office complex turned out to take a spin, and some tried more than one or all of the five e-scooter brands featured at the event.

“This saves a lot of time, especially for a person like me who doesn’t own a car,” Monkek Thind said after testing a scooter. “This is going to help a lot (during lunch hour), actually.”

University of Colorado Boulder last week held similar e-scooter test runs on campus, while the city hosted two Monday and Tuesday on 13th Street near the Dushanbe Teahouse. A final e-scooter demo is planned for 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday at the Center for Community, 2249 Willard Loop Drive.

“I was a little bit terrified at first,” Jillian Morrow said after a test drive Wednesday. “It was faster than I thought. Once I got the hang of it, it was lots of fun.”

City council in May imposed a moratorium on issuing business licenses to e-scooter companies through February 2020, giving Boulder staffers time to propose regulations on where, when and how the electric vehicles can be ridden.

“We know we don’t want them on sidewalks,” Boulder Senior Transportation Planner Dave Kemp said.

He added city officials are looking into regulatory proposals that could prohibit e-scooter use on major arterial roads lacking bike lanes, in addition to disallowing e-scooters before dawn and after dusk, to prevent, in part, drunken operation as well as riding in the dark. But all the considerations are preliminary, and any rules will have to gain council approval to trigger an end to the moratorium.

“Safety is paramount,” Kemp said. “… It would behoove us to have, if not a law, encouragement of helmet use. Denver is playing catchup on building regulations for e-bikes and e-scooters. We’re going to build the most constructive regulations for council consideration.”

Boulder resident Caitlin Jacobsen earlier this year was involved in an e-scooter crash after leaving Coors Field in Denver, and was in a medically induced coma for some time after the incident. Her sister, Jennifer Jacobsen, last month testified to Boulder City Council that the woman’s condition remained serious and urged the city to approach e-scooters with extreme caution.

Despite the tragedy, hopes are high for e-scooters, along with e-bike sharing and micro-transit options, such as cars smaller than buses, to be part of the formula to deter Boulder-based employees from driving into work, Kemp and Boulder Chamber leaders said.

Their availability near Boulder bus stops for regional routes could tilt the scales in favor of transit over single-occupancy vehicles, giving bus riders a convenient option to complete the “first and last miles” of their trips without walking or sweating through their work clothes while pedaling a standard bike, and help draw down transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions from Boulder residents and workers.

In 2018, people took 38.5 million trips on shared e-scooters in the United States, according to a National Association of City Transportation Officials report.

“Our goal is to fully explore all possible opportunities to improve mobility for Boulder’s workforce and residents,” Boulder Chamber Director of Public Affairs Andrea Meneghel said.

Kemp also said the city will be looking to e-scooter companies to gear their smartphone applications to promote good behavior by riders when it comes to parking and cruising in properly designated areas, perhaps by warning users they could be charged higher fees for bad placement or riding habits picked up on by companies’ location tracking technology.

The city also is looking to ensure equitable access to e-scooters and e-bike sharing programs by finding ways to get them into the hands of residents and employees who could use them, but may not have a smartphone model able to start up a scooter, or a credit card to plug into a mobile application, Kemp said.

“They’re getting the full shakedown, but ultimately we see the value,” Kemp said.

Categories: All Denver News.

After back-to-back homicide and shooting on same Denver block, neighbors reckon with 24 hours of violence

5 hours 54 min ago

Keith Strickland tossed a handful of bullet casings at the feet of one of Denver’s highest-ranking police officers and challenged the division chief.

“How are our kids supposed to trust you guys if you’re never here?” Strickland demanded at a community meeting held Wednesday night on the street.

Elise Schmelzer, The Denver PostBullet casings sit on a post outside Keith Strickland’s Denver home on Sept. 18, 2019. Strickland collected the casings from the street outside his house after people fired guns at his next door neighbor’s home.

In a 24-hour period this week, bullets sprayed two of the houses on Strickland’s Montbello block. Strickland picked up the bullet casings from the street outside his home after his next door neighbor’s house was shot at late Monday night. The following night, he awoke again to police sirens as officers investigated a gun homicide a few houses down.

Neighbors, community organizers and police gathered Wednesday night on Lackland Place to discuss the recent violence and vent their frustrations. Some residents were angry at the police — for not patrolling the street often, not coming fast enough when called, or not coming at all. Other longtime residents said they were looking to move. They didn’t feel safe there anymore.

RELATED: Our kids are dying: Gun violence killing increasing number of teens in Denver and across Colorado

Around midnight Monday, shooters fired bullets through the front windows of Shermaine Taylor’s home, striking the couch where her 11-year-old daughter lay and peppering the girl’s bedroom. The shooting didn’t physically injure anybody, but Taylor now fears the place she’s lived for 11 years.

The shooting Monday was the second time in six months Taylor’s home had been struck by gunfire, she said. Bullet holes remained in the front windows and in the air conditioning unit on the windowsill from this week’s shooting.

“I’m afraid for my babies,” Taylor said. “I was very close to losing a child.”

The next night, a man was shot and killed in a home down the street.

The conversation in the group Wednesday soon turned to the impact of violence among teens. The number of teens killed in gun homicides in Denver has spiked over the past five years.

“Our babies are dying out here,” said Joel Hodge, founder of Struggle of Love Foundation and who lives nearby. “That’s why we come out today.”

Autumn Lawrence‘s 14-year-old son, Aiden, was shot and killed Aug. 9 in Stapleton, one neighborhood west. She urged people to become involved in violence prevention and to protect their children. No other mother should have to pick out funeral clothes and a burial site for a child, she said.

“I am sick to my stomach every day,” she said.

Twenty people have been killed in homicides in Montbello since 2015 — tying with Five Points for the Denver neighborhood with the most killings in that time period. Two people were killed in the neighborhood this year and at least six people were wounded in shootings, police data show.

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Denver Police Department Division Chief Ron Thomas listened Wednesday night as residents explained their problems with police. He listened as the neighbors grieved the loss of their sense of safety. He urged them to call 911 when they hear something.

Toward the end of the gathering, the group of about 100 joined hands in a giant circle. They bowed their heads to pray.

“We trust you God to heal us, to move us,” Glenn Garcia, of Safe Haven Denver, prayed. “We are not standing here alone.”

Categories: All Denver News.