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California TV broadcasts interrupted by armageddon prediction Thursday morning

September 22, 2017 - 2:16pm

Some Orange County residents were stunned Thursday, Sept. 21, when television programming was suddenly interrupted for about a minute with an ominous message predicting the end of the world.

Stacy Laflamme of Lake Forest said she was watching the HGTV channel via Cox Communications about 11:05 a.m. when suddenly an emergency alert flashed across her screen followed by a voice.

“Realize this, extremely violent times will come,” a man’s voice boomed, according to a video of the alert.

Laflamme said she was alarmed.

“It almost sounded like Hitler talking,” she said. “It sounded like a radio broadcast coming through the television.”

In addition to Cox, Spectrum cable customers in Orange County received the alert.

Erin Mireles of Diamond Bar was watching the Bravo channel on Spectrum’s cable system when her show was interrupted by the alert.

“I was definitely startled, ’cause the volume increased exponentially,” she said. “I wasn’t alarmed in the sense of thinking something was wrong, ’cause I assumed it was some sort of hack. My channel changed back to Bravo after a couple minutes.”

The mysterious alert became a hot topic on social media.

The problem occurred because of one or more radio stations conducting an emergency test, Joe Camero, a spokesman for Cox, said Thursday.

Cable systems pick up such alerts, and viewers should have seen just a typical emergency-broadcast test.

“With these tests, an emergency tone is sent out to initiate the test,”  Camero said. “After the tone is transmitted, another tone is sent to end the message. It appears that the radio station (or stations) did not transmit the end tone to complete the test.”

Then the broadcast picked up some audio feed that bled into the alert.

Camero said Cox technicians shut down the emergency test as soon as they became aware of the problem.

“We don’t want to alarm anyone with any false emergency alerts,” he said.

Cox and Spectrum are investigating who sent out the alert and whether it was done accidentally or on purpose. It was unclear where the audio came from.

“We have confirmed that we were fed an incorrect audio file,” said Dennis Johnson, a spokesman for Spectrum.

It hasn’t been determined if the audio in the alert is related to a prophecy by David Meade, a  self-described “specialist in research and investigations” who believes catastrophic events will occur Saturday.

He predicts a constellation – a sign prophesied in the Book of Revelation – will reveal itself in the skies over Jerusalem, signaling the beginning of the end of the world, according to the Washington Post.

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Hope Solo says she has settled grievance with U.S. Soccer

September 22, 2017 - 2:12pm

Hope Solo has settled a grievance with U.S. Soccer over her suspension from the women’s national team following comments she made at the Rio Olympics.

The settlement was first reported by the San Francisco Chronicle. The 35-year-old goalkeeper was suspended for six months and her contract with the federation was terminated after she called the Swedish team “a bunch of cowards” following the U.S. team’s quarterfinal loss.

Details about the settlement, reached last month, were not released. The U.S. Women’s Soccer Team Players Association filed the grievance on Solo’s behalf.

In a statement provided Friday to The Associated Press, Solo reiterated her regret over the comments.

“As I expressed in my apology to the Swedish captain immediately following the match, I have tremendous respect for the Swedish team, and in describing the style of play, I used a choice of words that was both offensive and not at all what I had intended to convey,” she said.

“We have amicably resolved the matter and are moving forward in a positive way,” she added.

U.S. Soccer did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The Women’s Soccer Team Players Association declined to comment.

Solo anchored the team in goal for the 2015 Women’s World Cup victory, allowing just three goals in seven games with five shutouts during the tournament — earning her a second straight Golden Glove Award.

For her career, Solo has made 202 total appearances with the national team, with 153 wins and an international-record 102 shutouts.

The defending champion U.S. women were ousted from the Olympics last summer when Sweden advanced 4-3 on penalty kicks following a 1-1 draw.

Solo’s “cowards” quote came immediately following the loss. Sweden went on to play in the gold-medal match against Germany.

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Solo told the AP in an interview late last year that she spoke to coach Jill Ellis and U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati following the loss, and felt that the issue was put to rest. After she returned to the United States, she said she was blindsided by the announcement about her suspension.

She said she believes U.S. Soccer wanted her off negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement. Solo has been an outspoken advocate for equal pay and was among the players who filed a complaint against the federation with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging wage discrimination.

“Let’s call it what is, which is a firing,” Solo told AP then. “It was a termination of my contract effective immediately with severance. That is a firing. It wasn’t a suspension, that’s what they told the media because it looked better. But I got fired. I got fired for what they say was using the word ‘cowards’ but in reality they got rid of an adversary in the fight for equal pay.”

U.S. Soccer said at the time that Solo was suspended following a culmination of actions, and separately her contract was also terminated with the team.

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Category 5 hurricanes have hit 6 land areas dead-on in 2017, more than ever before

September 22, 2017 - 1:49pm

The 2017 Atlantic has not only been super active so far, but also super unlucky. Whereas in some past busy hurricane seasons, land areas have avoided some of the most extreme storms – this year they have been a magnet.

Category 5 hurricanes have directly hit six land masses head on, leaving devastation in their wake almost every time. While just two separate hurricanes, Irma and Maria, did all the dirty work, they repeatedly found areas to target.

Brenden Moses, a researcher at the National Hurricane Center, found that of all Category 5 landfalls on record in the Atlantic since 1851, one-quarter have occurred this season. This is a remarkable statistic.

However, it’s important to remember monitoring of hurricanes was much more difficult prior to the advent of weather satellites in the late 1960s when storms may have been missed. That said, there is no precedent in the last half century of Category 5s striking land so frequently in the same season.
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Category 5 hurricanes are the most destructive storms on Earth, bearing peak winds of at least 157 mph. The National Hurricane Center offers this description of the destruction they leave behind, which is consistent with what we’ve witnessed with this year’s storms:

“A high percentage of framed homes will be destroyed, with total roof failure and wall collapse. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last for weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.”

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Jhabvala: Twitter just doesn’t understand. There are TWO Brandon Marshalls.

September 22, 2017 - 1:11pm

The confusion reaches a peak around this time every year. It has for at least the last three and will undoubtedly continue for as long as the two continue to play in the league. Despite what Twitter and sometimes national TV networks and magazines so often believe, Brandon Marshall, the sixth-year linebacker for the Denver Broncos, is not Brandon Marshall, 12th-year receiver for the New York Giants.

Seems simple enough, but whenever Marshall the receiver plays (he goes by @BMarshall on Twitter), Marshall the linebacker (@BMarshh54) gets an earful on social media.

When the Giants played the Lions on Monday Night Football and receiver Marshall caught one of five targets for 17 yards — a follow to his two-catch, 27-yard performance in the Giants’ season-opening loss to the Cowboys — the comments by fans turned sour quickly. There are few filters on Twitter and the opinions of all often turn into personal attacks.

So Marshall, the Broncos’ linebacker, decided to have a little fun with it.

“I was sitting on my couch. Actually my mom had just left my house and I was bored so I was like, ‘OK, let me go ahead and start messing with these people,” he said while at Swansea Elementary to kick off his student attendance challenge. “Fans, a lot of times, they talk reckless to us. They talk crazy and 99 percent of the time they would never say it to our faces. So I just took it as a time for me to get it back at them, talk crazy to them because they always talk to crazy to us.”

The crazy talk last Monday night went down something like this:

One fan tweeted to Marshall, the Bronco: “On my couch watching you drop eli’s passes.”

Marshall’s response during the game: “Meet me in the parking lot after the game chump!

Another, @per_the_bear, tweeted: “@BMarshh54 you’re the main reason we are 0-2. Go back to the jets nobody wants you here anymore.”

So I’m the reason we’re trash?” Marshall responded. “Nah.”

From @newyorknate1: “@BMarshh54 catch the ball dude”

Marshall: “Catch these …

From @RileyHarris2730: “@BMarshh54 high point the football!”

Marshall: “Come say that to my face!

And from @_BXBomber_: “How you tweeting and dropping passes at the same time?!”

Marshall: “Cuz I can do Bof

And then: Scott Kacsmar, a writer and assistant editor for Football Outsiders, posted, “A reminder that no team with Brandon Marshall has ever made the playoffs.”

The simple retort of Marshall, the linebacker, who has been to two Super Bowls and won one with the Broncos: “False.”

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The icing: Essence magazine ran a story about the Giants’ receiver and his work in promoting mental health awareness with his Project 375. They included a photo of the Broncos’ linebacker in addition to multiple ones of the receiver.

At this point, Marshall is used to the confusion.

“They handed it to me,” he said. “It was too good to pass up. I’m still getting tweets, but I’m pretty sure people are joking now. They want me to respond to them, but I’m actually over it. It was fun while it lasted.”

It may be over for at least this week. But on Oct. 15, the Broncos host the Giants in what should be known as Brandon Marshall Bowl. Neither will be able to respond to their critics in game. But Marshall, the linebacker, hopes to respond with something else.

“I’m looking forward to playing him,” he said. “I can’t wait. I get to play Brandon for the first time. Actually I played him my rookie year (with Jacksonville) but I didn’t play defense. So I’m gonna try to get him, try to tackle to him.”

Brace yourself, Twitter.

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Man dies after Adams County deputy-involved shooting near Mile High Flea Market

September 22, 2017 - 12:39pm

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – Authorities investigated a fatal deputy-involved shooting in Adams County Friday afternoon.

The shooting followed an altercation between the deputy and a roughly 30-year-old man, who has been identified as a white male, near the Mile High Flea Market at East 88th Avenue and Brighton Road.

Officers who provided a brief update just before 2 p.m. said the man who died was pronounced as dead on the scene and the deputy was treated for minor injuries.

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Read the full story at

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Avalanche tough guy A.J. Greer says his nastiness comes naturally

September 22, 2017 - 12:36pm

Avalanche rookie A.J. Greer emerged from the trainer’s room Thursday night with a bloody right hand, which was protected by a surgical glove. He said the wound was from a previous fight — not the one he had just been in with Dallas’ Greg Pateryn.

Pateryn got the better of Greer in that fight midway through the third period, but Greer, 20, wasn’t deterred from his game. After serving his five-minute major for fighting, Greer and the Stars’ Julius Honka drew roughing minors from an incident in front of the Dallas net.

Greer, 6-foot-3 and 204 pounds, is trying to break into the NHL as a power forward with an edge.

“It’s a big part of his game. He’s an abrasive guy out there,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said of Greer after Friday’s practice. “We saw it through rookie camp. We saw it in Burgundy/White (scrimmage). The key for him is to continue to do that against NHL opponents. We’ve talked about him. He’s a hungry guy. He’s pushing to make our hockey club and I think that’s the way he’s got to play.”

Greer says playing angry hockey comes naturally.

“I’m a big body out there and I have to disturb people to get under their skin,” he said. “It’s my job, and I play better when I’m able to get under their skin.”

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The Avalanche selected Greer with the 39th pick of the 2015 draft. He played five NHL games last season, and 63 for San Antonio of the American Hockey League. He amassed 38 points (15 goals) and 78 penalty minutes, second most on the team.

Because of guaranteed contracts, Greer might not make Colorado’s opening-night roster. But he seems to be among a handful of young forwards who will be called upon when injuries occur.

“Just happy to put on the Avs jersey,” Greer said. “We’ll see what happens.”

Footnotes. Forward Tyson Jost practiced Friday with the team for the first time in a week. He had been skating on his own since sustaining a minor groin injury. Bednar said Jost likely will play in at least two of the three upcoming preseason games. The stretch begins Saturday at Minnesota, and continues Sunday against the Wild at the Pepsi Center and at Dallas on Monday. … Defenseman Sergei Boikov suffered a dislocated shoulder in Thursday’s game and is out indefinitely. Boikov, 21, was pegged to play for San Antonio. … The Avs reassigned three players Friday, sending left wing Travis Barron back to his junior team and centers J.C. Beaudin and Julien Nantel to San Antonio. … Bednar said goalie Jonathan Bernier will start Saturday and Monday, with Semyon Varlamov playing Sunday.

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Russian state media says Morgan Freeman’s marijuana use behind his critique of Putin

September 22, 2017 - 11:40am

Morgan Freeman’s honey-kissed baritone has sound-tracked dozens of documentaries and public announcements in the Oscar-winner’s long Hollywood career.

But the 80-year-old star’s tenure in the business probably failed to prep him for the Russian reaction that greeted a two-minute online video he recorded recently for a group hoping to keep alive concerns over Kremlin meddling in the 2016 Presidential election.

Freeman is being portrayed as a tool of the U.S. establishment trying to bring down Trump, and as a man suffering from a “Messianic complex” from movie roles playing God and the president of the United States.

A “#StopMorganLie” hashtag is circulating aimed at discrediting the actor.

Read the rest of this story at

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Student deaths inspire suicide prevention conversation in Colorado communities

September 22, 2017 - 11:40am

The day after a second Littleton student in two days took his life, Arapahoe High School principal Natalie Pramenko started to cry halfway through her message on the school intercom.

“You are not alone,” she said through the 2,100-student suburban school’s sound system, her voice breaking. “You are all important. I love each and every one of you.”

Then she repeated the words of the parents of Claire Davis, who died in 2013 after she was shot in the school by a classmate who then killed himself. “Choose love and kindness always.”

After the suicides of two students in two days at the start of the school year, one a junior at Arapahoe and the other an eighth-grader at nearby Powell Middle School, administrators have been grappling with how much to say about suicide — a conversation historically kept in the shadows because of stigma and fear, and among the most terrifying for parents.

Suicide prevention resources

Colorado Crisis Line: 1-844-493-8255, Chat online or text TALK to 38255.

Mental Health First Get trained to recognize the signs and how to respond.

American Foundation for Suicide Join one of their upcoming walks for awareness in Colorado.

Crisis Text Text 741741 from anywhere in the nation to reach a counselor.

Second Wind Fund: Links students to mental health professionals and pays for up to 12 counseling sessions.

Community reaction has ranged from handwritten, supportive notes sent to school leaders, to criticism from frightened parents asking why schools don’t do more to prevent suicide. “Some are still scared to talk about it,” Pramenko said in an interview. But many are calling for a wide-open, community conversation.

And not just in Littleton. In Denver’s northern suburbs, Adams 12 Five Star Schools lost a middle-school girl to suicide this month, prompting the district’s chief academic officer to warn parents about “continued exposure” to videos and photos circulated on social media as news of her death spread rapidly across the district’s middle schools. Both boys who took their lives in Littleton posted on social media just before they killed themselves, one at an elementary school playground.

Two decades ago, it was “almost unheard of” for school districts to delve into emotional and mental health, said Littleton Superintendent Brian Ewert. Now it’s a necessity.

“Mental health is absolutely our responsibility when it interferes with a student’s ability to learn or their ability to feel safe at school,” he said. When a student dies, whether by suicide or a drunken-driving accident, for example, the community immediately responds by asking, “What is the school doing to solve the problem?” Ewert said.

In Thornton, Adams 12 schools two years ago created the position of suicide-prevention and crisis-recovery specialist. The district four years ago began requiring its entire staff to take a half hour of training on signs of suicide. And new this year, four elementary schools are piloting a prevention program that doesn’t specifically mention suicide, but teaches kids about empathy and how to help friends who are having a hard time, said the district’s suicide-prevention specialist, Sarah Hunter.

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Littleton spent $800,000 to hire mental health counselors after Davis’ death and two years ago began a program that allows the district’s foundation to pay for mental health counseling for students who don’t have insurance coverage, “walking the line between public education and private mental health,” said Nate Thompson, Littleton’s director of social, emotional and behavior services. The district’s teachers are trained to recognize symptoms of depression and report them to counselors, and a “cyberparenting workshop” that began five years ago draws about 300 people each year who want to learn more about keeping kids safe online, including regarding depression and suicide.

The district counted 206 “suicide interventions” last year, meaning the number of times school staff learned of a student who was contemplating suicide and linked them to mental health help and informed parents. That compares with 36 interventions in 2009.

Suicide, self-harm and depression were the most frequently reported concerns in the district on Safe2Tell, an app and phone number for anonymous tips. The tip line received 127 tips regarding suicide and depression last year. In comparison, there were 114 tips regarding alcohol and drug use, and 50 tips involving bullying, the third-highest category.

Community outcry to talk about suicide, along with the district’s desire to show parents what programs they already have, has spurred two upcoming community meetings. Also, Arapahoe High and Powell Middle School were put on a fast track to start a new student-led suicide-prevention effort that probably would have remained in the discussion phase for months.

A parent-only suicide-prevention training session, originally planned for February, is happening Monday night at Arapahoe. The guest speaker, from the University of Colorado medical school’s depression center, will explain “three simple steps to help save a life.”

And on Oct. 10, the school district is holding a mental health fair at Mission Hills Church, an event that will include community counselors, clergy and mental health programs, emphasizing that suicide prevention is a community — not just a school — effort. The district is hoping 1,000 people attend.

Arapahoe principal Pramenko first heard about a program called Sources of Strength last year and said she planned to “explore” it this school year. But within days of the suicides of the two boys, Pramenko urged a school counselor to tell staff about the program at an already scheduled staff meeting.

Pramenko told her faculty that she hoped to have the program, which teaches students how to identify signs of depression among their peers on social media, running at full capacity within three years. It would require 20 teachers and 210 students to complete training.

Within 48 hours of the presentation to staff, more than 40 teachers had signed up. More than 300 students have asked for training or been nominated by staff, who were instructed to look not just for high-achievers but those who struggle academically and those who appear isolated. Students are taught how to respond if they see a social media post that reveals depression or thoughts of suicide, and how to link that person to a “trusted adult.” The idea behind it is that not all kids have an adult they trust, but they probably have a friend who does.

A week after the suicides, Pramenko also went to student council with another idea: a voluntary pledge to give up social media for a week and return to it “only with kindness.” The response was lukewarm, in part because it was 6:30 a.m. and also because homecoming was around the corner, she said.

A social media blackout would not succeed if it was organized by the principal, Pramenko acknowledged, leaving it up to student leaders.

Seniors Sophie Engel and Molly Galloway, who is class president, like the idea of a social media blackout, but wanted a schoolwide assembly to introduce it, including a speech by the parent of the junior who killed himself. A week after the suicides, they wanted to hold a raw, intense rally that would demand attention.

Instead, the girls said, they were upset that some teachers, probably out of caution, returned to normal almost immediately, as in “Please pass in your homework” and “We have a test on Friday.” They were grateful for teachers who strayed from reading the “half-sheet,” what the students consider a canned response, to the “unexpected tragedy” that included the commonly used phrase of “Warriors take care of each other.”

“The change that needs to occur consists of bringing meaning to that motto,” said Galloway, who ended up with 40 students at her house — including some she didn’t know — on the night of the second suicide. “We need to get to the kids who don’t have friends to talk to.”

“We just need to hit it on the nose,” Engel said. “Don’t wiggle around it. We need to go for it instead of saying no to anything scary.”

Both girls said the pressure in high school to participate in multiple activities and sports and excel at academics is intense. “Students don’t have time to relax, to focus on mental health,” said Galloway, who besides student council plays lacrosse and field hockey. She punched a few numbers into her smartphone and noted that for people who live until their 80s, high school makes up 4.7 percent of their lives, a fact she wishes had impacted the boys who died this year, as well as other Araphoe students who died by suicide in recent years.

Parents, too, shared the sentiment that mental health of students is especially important in a middle-class suburb where sports and college admittance are often the focus.

“I really don’t care at this point if someone is a gifted and talented kid,” Heidi Schlossberg, whose son was at Arapahoe during the 2013 shooting, told school board members this month, asking them to take football money and put it toward kids who are struggling. “It’s more important that we’re known as a school system that doesn’t have suicides and shootings rather than children who made it through and did well.”

She and others want to keep the conversation at the forefront, a difficult task that goes against the typical pattern of initial community concern that fades — until the next suicide or traumatic event.

“People tend to move on,” said Ken Wiig, who lost his 17-year-old daughter to suicide and for 10 years has worked with Second Wind Fund, which pays for mental health counseling for teenagers and is available in about 90 percent of school districts, including Littleton. “In society, we tend to react to events and as time goes on, we tend to forget.”

Second Wind matches kids with mental health therapists across the state who have agreed to see at-risk teenagers within days and for a reduced fee. Students are referred to the nonprofit, which will pay for up to 12 sessions, by school counselors, psychologists and other staff.

“I wish we could bring down the stigma of people asking for help,” Wiig said. “It’s got to be OK to ask.”

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Garett Bolles questionable to play vs. Bills; Shane Ray progressing in wrist recovery

September 22, 2017 - 11:39am

Five days after being carted off the field with what was later determined to be a lower-leg bruise, Broncos rookie left tackle Garett Bolles was listed Friday as possibly being able to suit up for Denver on Sunday at Buffalo.

Bolles, along with receiver Bennie Fowler, were both listed as questionable to play on the injury report. Bolles was limited in practice Thursday and formally listed as limited Friday, though practice was simply a walkthrough.

“Your concern is obviously with him missing practice on Wednesday, that was our first second-down run-game install,” head coach Vance Joseph said. “So your concern is always with his mental preparation versus his physical. If he’s ready to play physically, you’re OK. But the mental reps that he missed on Wednesday, that’s a concern.”

Fowler suffered a concussion in the second quarter of the Broncos’ win against the Cowboys and is still in the protocol, Joseph said. Should he not be cleared in time, the Broncos would likely turn to Jordan Taylor, who has been inactive the last two games.

Cornerback Brendan Langley (knee) and quarterback Paxton Lynch (shoulder) were ruled out for the game.

Defensive end Zach Kerr, who has been working his way back from a knee bruise, practiced all week and said Friday that he’s “good to go.”

The status of running back Devontae Booker, who is working his way back from a wrist injury, is uncertain. Though he’s been cleared to practice and has all week, Joseph said Booker needs to get “back in football shape” and is unsure if he will play at Buffalo.

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Ray’s progress. Outside linebacker Shane Ray was placed on injured reserve at the start of the season with the expectation he will be recalled in time to play at Kansas City on Oct. 30.

He’s been counting down the days to his return (39 to go, he reminded the Broncos’ locker room Friday) since suffering a wrist injury early in training camp and undergoing surgery to have pins inserted in his left thumb.

Ray, still wearing a protective brace on his wrist, resumed on-field work Friday with individual drills and said he is expected to get the pins removed in early October, around the Broncos’ Oct. 8 bye week.

Footnotes. The Bills ruled out left tackle Cordy Glenn (food/ankle) and defensive tackles Marcell Darius (ankle) and Jerel Worthy (concussion). … The Broncos were set to travel to Buffalo on Friday afternoon so they could have a full Saturday for practice and meetings. … Joseph said recently acquired defensive lineman Ahtyba Rubin is “ready to go.” Rubin was inactive last Sunday.

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John McCain says he cannot “in good conscience vote for the Graham-Cassidy proposal”

September 22, 2017 - 11:12am

U.S. Sen. John McCain on Friday said he does not back the GOP’s so-called Graham-Cassidy legislation to unwind the Affordable Care Act, a revelation that means Republicans are looking increasingly unlikely to have the votes needed to pass the measure.

“I cannot in good conscience vote for the Graham-Cassidy proposal,” the Arizona Republican said in a written statement. “I believe we could do better working together, Republicans and Democrats, and have not yet really tried. Nor could I support it without knowing how much it will cost, how it will effect insurance premiums, and how many people will be helped or hurt by it.”

He added: “Without a full (Congressional Budget Office) score, which won’t be available by the end of the month, we won’t have reliable answers to any of those questions.”

BREAKING: Republican Sen. John McCain announces opposition to health care bill, dashing hopes for GOP leaders.

— The Associated Press (@AP) September 22, 2017

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The Graham-Cassidy proposal, as it has come to be known, is seen as the GOP’s last-ditch effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

Republican leaders in the U.S. Senate have been trying to drum up support for the proposal, brought forth by Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana. It calls for undoing the Obama-era law’s individual insurance mandate and would also give states block grants and thus broader authority on how to spend money to address their health care needs.

McCain has been a focus of those trying to get the 50 votes needed to pass the measure.

McCain’s July “no” vote on another Republican health care bill killed the GOP’s last proposal to unwind Obamacare. That makes Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner’s vote — along with McCain’s — must-haves if Republicans want the legislation to pass.

Gardner, R-Yuma, has not definitively said if he supports the measure, telling reporters earlier this week that he was still “trying to get some more information on it.”

Michael Bennet, Colorado’s Democratic senator, vehemently opposes the proposal.

Because Republicans in the Senate are trying to pass Graham-Cassidy using convoluted rules for budget “reconciliation” that require only 50 votes to succeed, they have to bring it to the floor by the end of the month. Beyond then, they would need 60 votes to pass the legislation.

McCain’s announcement likely leaves GOP leaders at least one vote short for the bill, which they had hoped to bring to the floor next week. Democrats are unanimously opposed.

GOP Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky has announced his opposition and GOP Sen. Susan Collins of Maine said Friday she, too, was leaning against supporting the bill.

Along with McCain, that would leave Republicans with only 49 votes for the bill; they would need 50, plus Vice President Mike Pence to break a tie, in order to prevail.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Man charged in serious beating of JeffCo toddler faces court

September 22, 2017 - 10:59am

Joshua James Gonzales, a man arrested in connection with the beating of a toddler who was found unresponsive in her mother’s lap, appeared before a Jefferson County judge Friday morning.

Gonzales, 21, has been charged with one count of child abuse with a serious bodily injury. If convicted, he would face a mandatory prison sentence of 10-32 years, according to the First Judicial District Attorney’s Office. He remains in custody at the Jefferson County jail on a $100,000 bond.

Gonzales surrendered to authorities on Sept. 17. Investigators had been looking for him after a bystander called 911 to report an injured child outside Doull Elementary School. They discovered the girl lying in her mother Melissa Mangeri’s lap. Mangeri and Gonzales were dating.

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The toddler had bruising on her genitals and elsewhere on her body, according to Gonzales’ arrest affidavit. She had a lacerated liver, severe head trauma and fractures to two ribs. She faced a substantial risk of death.

Mangeri told investigators that she and Gonzales had been arguing in the living room when the toddler began to cry, according to the affidavit. She said Gonzales yanked the girl’s arm, hit her and threw her against a couch. He then kicked her.

Gonzales’ preliminary hearing is Oct. 25.

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Watch: Valor Christian vs. Pomona football preview on Post Preps Gameday Show

September 22, 2017 - 10:04am

Post Preps Gameday Show is out at Valor Christian High School on Friday to preview their game against Pomona High School.

The Denver Post’s Preps Editor Kyle Newman previews the marquee No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup, which will be broadcast live at 7:30 p.m. on the Post Preps Game of the Week.

“Like” Denver Post Prep Sports on Facebook and turn on page notifications to ensure you never miss a live broadcast.

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Seen: Fundraiser nets $200,000 for The Gathering Place

September 22, 2017 - 9:50am

In 1986, when two University of Denver Graduate School of Social Work students founded The Gathering Place on what basically amounted to a wing and a prayer, they knew they were helping to meet a critical need for homeless women.

Overnight shelters would send everyone on their way every morning, a situation that is less than ideal for women, especially those with children.

With a $6,000 loan, Toni Schmid and Kathy Carfrae opened a one-room storefront on Santa Fe Drive that would be a safe place for them, meaning they wouldn’t have to spend the daylight hours tramping along the city streets in the freezing cold or sweltering heat. It would keep them safe from muggings, assaults and other dangers.

As Denver grew, so, too, did The Gathering Place.

In 1990, the nonprofit organization headed by Leslie Foster moved into larger quarters at 1535 High St. There, services were expanded to include meals; shower facilities; a food pantry; diaper distributions; a clothing bank and a greeting card business where those with an artistic bent could earn money by crafting and selling cards.

By 2005, Foster recalled at a fundraising gala held at Denver Museum of Nature and Science, an average of 300 women, children and transgender individuals experiencing homelessness or poverty were visiting the center each day, and “Our building became an inhibiting factor in our attempt to serve more individuals in need.”

A year later, the building was torn down and replaced  with a 28,800-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility that allows for greater numbers to take advantage of services that have been expanded to include physical and mental health screenings, job-readiness workshops, computer literacy classes and other programs tailored to individual needs.

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The gala, emceed by Foster and Phillip Infelise of P-Cubed Partners, was held on the 10th anniversary of The Gathering Place’s grand reopening. The theme was A Building for Dreams: Transforming Lives for Ten Years.

“The most important service we provide is our building,” Foster added. “It’s a space that means ‘home’ and ‘safety.’ It’s a place where kids have a safe place to play while the moms take care of their pressing needs. It’s also a catalyst for re-building lives and for establishing the relationships that are part of the solution.”

The evening began with cocktails, a silent auction and music by Spinphony. Following a filet mignon dinner, Eric Goodman called a live auction that helped bring the total amount raised to $203,051.

Guests included such longtime supporters as Lucy and Rick Kissinger and Sue and Steve Engle. Board chair Christina Saunders and chair-elect Sandra Storey helped Foster and her spouse, Jane Berryman, welcome such friends as state Rep. Alec Garnett; Jim Brown, who was representing his wife, Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne; Shannon Brooks, Kendal Norris and Sarah Sparks, who are part of a women’s giving circle from the cannabis industry; retired Hope Center director George Brantley and his wife, author Peg Brantley; attorneys Steve Hensen and Karen DuWaldt; Bank of the West execs Blake Brown and Amy Legaard; and Aaron and Sandee LaPedis, who recently hosted a reception at their Fascination St. Fine Art for another Gathering Place self-sufficiency initiative, Art Restart.

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Lower PERA benefits, higher taxpayer and worker contributions proposed to close Colorado pension system’s $32 billion gap

September 22, 2017 - 9:49am

COLORADO SPRINGS — The governing board that manages the public pensions of 566,000 Coloradans on Friday endorsed a sweeping package of financial reforms that would cut retirement benefits and require public employees and taxpayers to contribute significantly more in the coming decades to bring the plan’s finances back from the brink.

The effort represents the second major reform attempt in the last decade for the Colorado Public Employees’ Retirement Association, or PERA, after a prior wave of austerity measures following the Great Recession fell short.

Today, the pension is just 58.1 percent funded, down from 64.7 percent in 2010. At current projections, it would take 78 years to pay off the pension’s $32.2 billion unfunded liability.

The board’s recommendation sets the stage for what’s sure to be a bitter fight at the politically split state legislature next year — in an election year, to boot.

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Specifics vary from division to division, but for public school teachers, whose pension fund is in the most financial peril, the changes look like this:

Retirees would see less money in their paychecks, because annual cost-of-living raises will be capped at a maximum of 1.5 percent instead of the current 2 percent.

Beginning in 2020, current school employees would have to contribute 11 percent of their salaries to the pension, a 3-percentage-point increase from today. Teachers hired after 2020 would contribute 10 percent, but wouldn’t be able to draw retirement benefits until age 65.

Jesse Paul, The Denver Post fileThe view from the pool at the Garden of the God’s Club and Resort in Colorado Springs taken in May 2014.

Taxpayers would contribute 22.15 percent, an increase of 2 percentage points. For school districts, that amounts to an extra $86 million a year. For the state government division, the second largest pension fund, it adds up to $54 million in additional pension costs.

In many ways, the proposal mirrors that of Senate Bill 1 in 2010, when lawmakers voted to cut benefits and boost contributions over a period of years.

But in other ways, the latest plan goes even further, asking the legislature to give up some of its authority in setting rates. One critical piece of the proposal would set up a trigger mechanism that would automatically increase contributions, and cut cost-of-living raises by small increments if the pension’s fiscal situation deteriorated.

Friday’s board vote came at the tail-end of a 3-day planning retreat at the Garden of the Gods Resort, a private country club overlooking the picturesque park in Colorado Springs.

This story is developing and will be updated.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported when the proposed contribution increases would take effect. The board discussed phasing them in over a period of time, but instead endorsed a plan that would increase contributions all at once, effective Jan. 1, 2020.


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How a six-second play provided a glimpse into the growth of Broncos defensive end Adam Gotsis

September 22, 2017 - 9:41am

Tyron Smith put his massive hands on Adam Gotsis‘ shoulders and attempted to march the Broncos defensive end toward the sideline.

Discarding defensive linemen with ease was how Smith, the 320-pound left tackle for the Dallas Cowboys, earned an all-pro nod last season. And being too easily shoved to the side in 2016 was how his rookie season became an exercise in frustration for Gotsis.

But as the clouds hovered above Sports Authority Field at Mile High last Sunday, Gotsis closed the daylight. On the second play of the game, Gotsis absorbed a chip block from Cowboys guard Chaz Green and then, with a violent swing of his arms, shook free from Smith. In a blink, Gotsis balanced himself and torpedoed back toward the line of scrimmage, helping teammate Derek Wolfe level all-pro running back Ezekiel Elliot before he could gain a yard.

The play was a six-second show of strength Gotsis may have not been able to display one year ago. Back then, he was 20 pounds lighter, still recovering from an ACL injury and generally overmatched.

“The first two games, he’s looked like a different guy,” Broncos defensive coordinator Joe Woods said. “He’s looking like the guy we drafted. He has to continue to play at that level. He’s a big piece to our defense in terms of having big success.”

To grow confidence, Gotsis had to grow his biceps and his chest and his legs and various other parts of his anatomy that make up the tools of the trade for defensive linemen. Entering the offseason healthy, Gotsis took up residence in the weight room, adding 20 pounds to his frame. By June, he weighed 306 pounds, up from his 287-pound playing weight as a rookie.

Joe Amon, The Denver PostDak Prescott (4) of the Dallas Cowboys fires a pass as Domata Peko (94) of the Denver Broncos and Adam Gotsis (99) defend during the first quarter on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017. The Denver Broncos hosted the Dallas Cowboys.

The weight gain came after a stern challenge from defensive line coach Bill Kollar, who didn’t mince words when he told Gotsis he had to get stronger.

“I think he really wanted to pressure me into an opportunity where I could push myself to try and be a starter on this team,” said Gotsis, who will celebrate his 25th birthday Saturday in Buffalo, preparing for the Broncos’ first road game against the Bills. “I took a lot of that on myself, just to keep working and know that I need to do this for myself. I needed to do what I had to do to get on the field, and he wants me to be on the field. Even though it might sound like he’s coming at me, he’s trying to give me the best opportunity. I just had to work my butt off.”

As the Broncos began organized team activities in June, bigger muscles brought increased confidence. Gotsis noticed he was more often dictating movement in the trenches, not simply trying to survive as he often did during his rookie season.

But just as he was hitting his stride, Gotsis was hit with a setback. A sore knee led to a scope in late June that kept the native of Australia out of action for a month. He was ready to practice at the start of training camp in late July, but he wasn’t yet himself. It wasn’t exactly the way he envisioned beginning his quest for a starting job.

“I felt like I was playing at a high caliber,” Gotsis said. “I felt like I had a great OTAs. It was like, ‘Damn, just when I’m feeling good.’ But it’s football. You’re going to have injuries. It’s about how you bounce back.”

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Gotsis has quickly come to understand that injuries are a way of life in the NFL. The trick, he has also learned, is to avoid allowing an injury to stall progress. When the knee issue kept him out in July, Gotsis still lifted and conditioned where he could and immersed himself in film. It was part of an overall growth that Gotsis had to make heading into his second season to become the player Kollar and the Broncos envisioned he could be when they used a second-round pick to draft him out of Georgia Tech, despite his limited American football experience.

“You’ve got to get a little different mindset,” Kollar said, relaying some of what he told Gotsis in the offseason. “You’ve got to have a tougher mindset. You can’t just be a nice guy and go out there. You’ve got to have a different type of attitude. I think he’s changed that a little bit also.”

After finding his feet in the first two preseason games, Gotsis came on strong at the end of August. He then registered five tackles in a season-opening win over the Chargers. He added four tackles against the Cowboys. Each of those was against Elliott (three rushes, one reception) on plays that totaled just seven yards for the running back.

“I think it’s confidence,” Broncos coach Vance Joseph said. “It’s just playing more football. He’s obviously a talent. I mean, physically, he can do a lot of special things. He’s a big man. It’s just confidence. Just believing you can do it. That’s where he is right now.”

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What is Graham-Cassidy and how would it change health care in Colorado?

September 22, 2017 - 9:30am

The hottest name in health care — and politics — right now is Graham-Cassidy (or perhaps you’ve heard it as Cassidy-Graham or Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson or GCHJ, for short).

What is it?

It’s the bill proposed in Washington, D.C. that would repeal the Affordable Care Act — you know, Obamacare — and replace it with … something much different that would have enormous consequences for Colorado and every other state. Though it is the latest in an alphabet soup of Republican-backed plans to repeal the ACA — remember the AHCA and the BCRA? — it may be the most consequential of the group.

The staid Fitch Ratings, a financial information services firm, says Graham-Cassidy’s provisions, “are more disruptive for most states than prior Republican efforts. States that expanded Medicaid access to the newly eligible population under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) are particularly at risk under this latest bill. ”

That means, for Colorado especially, this bill could be a big deal.

Why? We’re here with answers.

Question: What’s in the bill?

Answer: Let’s start instead with a quick primer on Obamacare. Most people know that the ACA required people to buy insurance, prohibited insurers from charging people more if they have pre-existing conditions and also required insurance plans to cover broad areas of care, like cancer treatments, mental health services or maternity care. Those are key for this bill.

The ACA also did two other things that are important for understanding Graham-Cassidy. First, it allowed states — but didn’t force them — to expand access to Medicaid for people who are slightly above the poverty line. Second, the ACA set up a system where people with modest incomes and who buy health insurance on their own can receive tax credits to help pay their premiums and, in some cases, also receive help paying deductibles.

OK, so here’s how Graham-Cassidy changes that:

First, it ends the Medicaid expansion and the insurance subsidies in 2020. It would replace them with a block grant — which is D.C. speak for one large chunk of money. States could use their block grants to provide insurance subsidies to low-income people or to set up a fund that helps pay the medical costs of the sickest and neediest patients. Or they could use the money for any number of other health-related purposes that the bill doesn’t spell out in great detail.

The onus would be on the states to craft their own plans, and the goal, as the bill’s supporters have repeatedly said, is to give states flexibility to meet their own needs.

GCHJ is a fundamentally different approach to health care than Obamacare. We are giving the power over health care to the states, not DC.

— Bill Cassidy (@BillCassidy) September 15, 2017

.@LindseyGrahamSC & @BillCassidy‘s plan allows Governors to do what they think is best for their individual state.

— Leader McConnell (@SenateMajLdr) September 19, 2017

I hope Republican Senators will vote for Graham-Cassidy and fulfill their promise to Repeal & Replace ObamaCare. Money direct to States!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 20, 2017

Looking at it another way, as Larry Levitt, a senior vice president at the non-partisan Kaiser Family Foundation, puts it: “It’s hard to think of any other bill that commits so much federal money with so few details as Graham-Cassidy.”

It’s hard to think of any other bill that commits so much federal money with so few details as Graham-Cassidy.

— Larry Levitt (@larry_levitt) September 19, 2017

So that’s one part of the bill.

Graham-Cassidy does a couple other major things, too, when it comes to Medicaid and those protections for pre-existing conditions.

On Medicaid, it completely changes how the program is funded. Right now, states and the federal government split costs based on pre-set percentages; when costs go up, the states and the feds share in the burden. Graham-Cassidy would cap the federal government’s contribution starting in 2020 based on the number of people enrolled in the program. The feds’ contribution would increase after that only based on inflation, not on need, which critics say could leave states holding the bag in the event of a disease outbreak or other health emergency. (You may remember this idea for “per-capita caps” from previous GOP-backed proposals.)

On the pre-existing condition protections, it gives states the option to do away with them. Same, too, with the types of care required to be covered. To do so, states would have to say how they plan to provide affordable coverage to people with pre-existing conditions. But the bill doesn’t specify how that requirement would need to be met.

In past analyses, Congress’ own nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has estimated that states covering one-sixth of the U.S. population would choose to waive Obamacare’s coverage protections if given the chance.

The bill would also eliminate the individual mandate — that requirement that everyone have health insurance.

Q: What impact does this have on federal spending?

A: This is where it gets murky because the Congressional Budget Office — normally the most-watched authority on this subject — won’t have time to analyze the bill fully before the Senate is likely to vote on it. But there have been some independent analyses and, for Colorado, the numbers aren’t good even if they aren’t exactly in agreement.

The Kaiser Family Foundation says Colorado would see nearly $2.9 billion less in federal health care spending between 2020 and 2026 compared to under the current law.

The group State Health & Values Strategies, which is funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, says Colorado would receive $3 billion less in that time, even without considering the impact of Medicaid caps.

The health care consulting group Avalere says it will mean $6 billion less for all federal health spending in the state over those years.

And the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities says Colorado would see more than $800 million less in federal health care spending in 2026 alone than it would under current law.

Nationwide, the above groups estimate the federal government will spend somewhere between $160 billion and $243 billion less on health care between 2020 and 2026 than it would under current law. But some states — mostly those that didn’t expand Medicaid — are in line to receive more money than they would under current law. Oh, and also the block grants would expire in 2027, so Congress would have to renew them or every state would lose billions more.

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Q: How would these funding changes affect me, if the bill passes?

A: It’s too soon to really say. It’s clear that the bill would require Colorado to make major decisions about where it spends health care money and who it spends those dollars on. But nobody really knows how Colorado — or any other state — would respond.

“This bill essentially forces every state to build its own system from scratch because it wipes out the federal infrastructure,” said Aviva Aron-Dine, a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

The Commonwealth fund took a stab at estimating how many people would drop out of the insurance market and came up with 15 to 18 million people nationwide becoming uninsured in the bill’s first year. The Center for American Progress, a liberal group, ran its own analysis and estimated a 468,000 person net coverage loss for Colorado by 2027.

Q: What do Colorado’s elected officials think?

A: Sen. Michael Bennet, a Democrat, hates it, calling it a, “partisan attempt that cuts funding and threatens coverage.”

I can’t decide whether this is Groundhog Day or the definition of insanity: every attempt is worse than the last. #GrahamCassidy

— Michael F. Bennet (@SenBennetCO) September 19, 2017

Gov. John Hickenlooper, also a Democrat, signed a letter with a bipartisan group of nine other governors opposing the plan.

Sen. Cory Gardner, a Republican, has said he is,” trying to get some more information” on the bill. Gardner has voted in favor of every other ACA repeal bill to come up for a vote in the Senate this year.

Q: So when will we know if this passes or not?

A: There’s actually a firm deadline for this bill. Because the Senate is trying to pass it using convoluted rules for budget “reconciliation” that require only 50 votes to succeed but also come with time limits, it has to be approved by the end of the month. That’s one loudly ticking clock.

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International Trade Commission makes finding on solar panel imports that industry group says could cost Colorado 2,000 jobs

September 22, 2017 - 9:28am

A U.S. trade panel on Friday found solar panel imports are hurting domestic businesses that operate in the industry, a decision that could lead to tariffs on the clean-energy parts that one group says could cost Colorado 2,000 jobs annually.

The International Trade Commission said it has determined that the imports are coming into the U.S. “in such increased quantities as to be a substantial cause of serious injury, or threat of serious injury, to the domestic industry.”

The panel will now determine how to remedy the issue — potentially through tariffs that would go before President Donald Trump for approval.

The decision comes a day after Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper joined three other governors in urging the commission not to support tariffs on the imported panels, saying the levies might eliminate 88,000 across the country.

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Bloomberg reports solar developers have already halted construction as the looming threat of the tariffs — requested in April after a bankrupt panel manufacturer filed a trade complaint — has already driven up prices and caused supply issues. Trump can ultimately decide whether to impose the tariffs, according to the news service, after they go before the trade commission.

The commission will send its findings to Trump to make a decision.

The Solar Energy Industries Association estimates Colorado would lose 2,000 solar jobs if the tariffs are granted.

Colorado’s solar power sector has grown quickly as the state works to drastically cut back carbon emissions In 2016, Colorado’s solar power capacity increased by 70 percent over the previous 12 months.

Clean-energy groups immediately denounced the trade commission’s findings.

“This misguided petition by a bankrupt, Chinese-owned company has the potential to stop Colorado’s and the nation’s solar industry dead in its tracks,” said Paul Spencer, CEO and founder of the Colorado-based Clean Energy Collective.

The Washington, D.C.-based Solar Foundation said the decision “brings yet more uncertainty to an industry that has created real value for the United States.”

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After 16 starts, Broncos’ QB Trevor Siemian defying the “seventh-round stigma”

September 22, 2017 - 9:19am

Colleen Siemian and her husband Walter sat in section 128, just above the visiting team’s tunnel and next to a group of Cowboys fans wearing cowboy boots and cowboy hats and speaking with thick Texas accents.

Her stomach was queasy with nerves, as it always is on game days, but it was especially so last Sunday because she knew it was a big game. The some 30 members of the unofficial Trevor Siemian fan club — college and family friends — who joined them at Sports Authority Field knew it, too.

And of course the four fellows next to them knew it. Early on, one quipped that the stadium’s scoreboard was likely the size of Jerry Jones’ home television. Another asked Walter and Colleen which player they were there for. When Colleen told them Trevor Siemian, the Broncos’ quarterback and their son, the four men played dumb: “Who is that?”

“As the game progressed, one of the guys said, ‘They don’t believe that that’s your son because you would be sitting in the boxes,’ ” Colleen recalled. “I said, ‘No. Trevor’s not there. As a matter of fact, he’s the lowest-paid quarterback in the NFL.’”

Welcome to Siemians’ strange reality, a reality that still doesn’t feel like their own, even after two-plus years.

Their son is the quarterback few in Denver truly believed could be an NFL starter. He was the successor to Peyton Manning by appointment in 2016 but not by unanimous decision from the fans. He wasn’t the veteran signed in the offseason to be the bridge to the future, and he wasn’t the first-round draft pick drafted to be the future.

He was just that seventh-rounder.

For a long time, Siemian’s Broncos teammates could see what others didn’t, and could read between the lines of a story changed daily, if not hourly, about the team’s quarterback competition. For some, it was noticeable long before Siemian was noticed.

“I knew Trevor had potential when we would see him scout-teaming in 2015,” safety Darian Stewart said on a recent radio appearance. “He always had a strong arm. He was always smart. Him learning from Peyton in 2015, I thought that was the best thing for him and that took him into year two with a confident mindset and he’s continuing to grow.”

It’s only Week 3. But through his first 16 starts, Siemian has not only become The Guy for the Broncos, but has also taken a seat among elite NFL company and has forced a collective about-face from those fixated on his draft status.

The longest longshot

Trevor Siemian’s 2015 draft profile is empty.

It has his mug at the top, his height and weight listed to the side and a throw-away line about John Elway’s diligence “in finding a competitor for the backup quarterback position.” But the rest of the page that should be cluttered with Mike Mayock-isms is curiously blank.

Then a kid from Northwestern still hobbled by an ACL injury, Siemian’s future was blank too. He gave thought to moving on from the game entirely and accepting a promised position at a commercial real estate firm.

But former Broncos coach Gary Kubiak saw something.

“Kubes pointed him out to me during his first year in camp and said, ‘Take a peek at this kid we drafted in the seventh round,” former Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer said. “Kubiak has a pretty good eye for talent and finding guys who, in the quarterback position, can do a little bit of everything. And Kubes was real high on his abilities.”

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High enough that the injury that turned off the majority of NFL teams fortuitously landed Siemian in Denver, where he beat out Zac Dysert in the 2015 preseason and learned from Manning on a run to the Super Bowl.

“I was lucky,” Siemian said. “I got to see how he went through the week and his day to day and how he progressed watching tape through the week. You just get better knowing what to look at, knowing what tendencies to look at, as you go. When you’re in college you think you know what you’re doing but I really didn’t.”

But Siemian’s studies went beyond the film room in 2015.

“He once said to Peyton, ‘After a game does the younger quarterback go up to the older quarterback? How does that work? What is the etiquette?’ ” Colleen said. “And Peyton said, ‘Trevor, I’ll tell you this, when you win the game, you wait for the other quarterback to come up to you. When you lose, you go up to the other quarterback.’”

During the preseason, when Manning stood in full uniform with a helmet on the sideline, he was asked by a reporter why he bothers dressing when he isn’t playing. With Siemian standing nearby, Manning said, “because I have too much respect for the guys that are on the field.”

Now the starter, Siemian arrives at the Broncos’ facility around 6:15 a.m. and follows a daily script and arduous routine similar to Manning’s. On game days, he’s adopted a few of Manning’s ways, too.

In the first quarter against the Cowboys, Siemian threaded the needle after a play-action fake to hit Emmanuel Sanders over the top in the end zone.

“That’s a big-time throw with the right placement of the ball,” head coach Vance Joseph said. “That’s hard to do.”

In the second quarter, Siemian recognized a mismatch in coverage on a third-and-9 and found running back C.J. Anderson, who cut inside and left Cowboys safety Jeff Heath on his back as he sprinted into the end zone.

“We knew we were getting man coverage in the red zone and Trev gave me a little double move route out of the backfield,” Anderson said. “Thank God we worked on that route in practice multiple times.”

Then in the third quarter, Siemian changed the call on a third-and-6, yelled “Omaha” and handed the ball off to Anderson, who skated around the right guard and up the middle of the line for a first down.

“The third-and-6 run check was something that 18 would have done,” Anderson said. “… The things he has seen, you can definitely see him go, ‘Hey, I’ve seen that before’ and puts us in the right position.”

  • Joe Amon, The Denver Post

    Trevor Siemian (13) of the Denver Broncos rolls out against the Dallas Cowboys during the first quarter on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017. The Denver Broncos hosted the Dallas Cowboys.

  • Steve Nehf, The Denver Post

    Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian hands off to C.J. Anderson in the first quarter against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.

  • Steve Nehf, The Denver Post

    Denver Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian throws a pass over the pass protection by Garett Bolles in the first quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017.

  • Joe Amon, The Denver Post

    Trevor Siemian (13) of the Denver Broncos runs into the locker room before the first quarter on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017. The Denver Broncos hosted the Dallas Cowboys.

  • Steve Nehf, The Denver Post

    The Denver Broncos offensive line fires off the ball as Trevor Siemian takes the snap in the first quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017.

  • Jack Dempsey, The Associated Press

    Denver Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian (13) warms up prior to an NFL football game against the Dallas Cowboys, Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017, in Denver.

  • Joe Amon, The Denver Post

    Trevor Siemian (13) of the Denver Broncos takes the field in front of offensive coordinator Mike McCoy against the Los Angeles Chargers during the first quarter on Monday, Sept. 11, 2017. The Denver Broncos hosted the Los Angeles Chargers.

  • Joe Amon, The Denver Post

    Trevor Siemian (13) of the Denver Broncos throws as Melvin Ingram (54) of the Los Angeles Chargers pressures during the first quarter on Monday, Sept. 11, 2017. The Denver Broncos hosted the Los Angeles Chargers.

  • AAron Ontiveroz, The Denver Post

    Trevor Siemian (13) of the Denver Broncos stands on the field before the first quarter on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017 in Denver.

Show Caption of

Expand Returning from surgery

Three days after the Broncos’ 2016 season ended, Siemian flew to Los Angeles to have his left shoulder repaired. It was crushed in a Week 4 game at Tampa and for nearly three months he played in pain and with an ugly bump atop his joint. It was his separated clavicle pushing up under the skin.

Colleen, a nurse, and Walter, a surgeon, knew he needed to get it repaired and knew he would need help after surgery, so they flew him back to Orlando for a month of their care. By then Siemian was a bona fide NFL starter, with plenty of bruises as proof. But he still carried around a perceived stain on his record.

“I think he’s always going to have that stigma that he was a seventh-rounder,” Colleen said. “He even said to us when he was home after his shoulder surgery, ‘I’m going to have to get that seventh-round stigma off my back.’”

When he was cleared to return, Siemian was tasked with re-earning the job he had already won once before. And he’d do so with a new coaching staff and another offense, and amid another summer of noise, dramatically titled The Decision by local sports talk radio.

At the start of the year, when Mike McCoy was hired as offensive coordinator and began to rebuild the playbook, he spoke to his quarterbacks about their preferred plays. He wanted to know what they liked and disliked so he could tailor a system to fit both Siemian and Paxton Lynch. Now, when McCoy asks Siemian to review playsheets before game days, Siemian liberally uses his red pen.

“Mike gives me a hard time sometimes because we highlight our favorite plays on the call sheet and sometimes I give it back to him with freaking 70 percent of the call sheet highlighted,” he said. “I think I’m just comfortable with a lot of the stuff we’re doing. I don’t speak for myself, but everybody’s really comfortable at any given time of the game with what’s being dialed up. We’re just doing our best to execute.”

With a revamped offensive line and revitalized run game, the Broncos lead the league in third-down percentage (56.7 percent) through two weeks. They lead the league in rushing yards (159 per game), too. And, they are tied for third in average scoring (33 points per game).

And Siemian, the seventh-rounder? He’s tied for the league lead in touchdown passes (six) and has the company of Frank Tripucka and Manning as the only Broncos quarterbacks in history with at least 24 touchdowns in their first 16 starts with the team.

“I mean, it’s good,” Siemian said coyly, always quashing attempts to goad him into boasting. “It’s Week 2. We have a lot of guys that are doing a really good job within the scheme. For me, you drop back and you throw it to the open guy. It’s worked out so far.”

After the Broncos win over Dallas, those four men wearing cowboy boots and cowboy hats and speaking with thick Texas accents begged Siemian’s parents for a photo. One called his wife and told her the Cowboys got their butt kicked “but we met the nicest people!” And one even extended an offer to have Trevor join him on his sprawling Texas ranch for hunting. Colleen had told them during their day of friendly banter that Trevor was “a good ol’ boy” who loved hunting and fishing.

She had also told them not to underestimate that seventh-round pick out of Northwestern.

Joseph issued a similar warning days later.

“In my opinion,” Joseph said, “he is in total control of the offense right now.”


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6-year-old girl dies after being hit in Colorado Springs crosswalk

September 22, 2017 - 9:16am

A 6-year-old child riding her bike was killed by a van in a crosswalk Thursday evening in northeast Colorado Springs, police said.

The girl was riding her bicycle on the sidewalk on Cottonwood Tree Drive shortly before 6:30 p.m. She tried to cross the intersection at Silver Birch Drive, when she was hit by a Ford van that was making a right turn from Cottonwood Tree Drive onto Silver Birch Drive. Her parent was also hit and injured.

The girl was taken to a Denver hospital via helicopter, police said, where she later died from her injuries.

Police said neither speed nor alcohol or drugs are considered factors in the case. No charges have been filed.

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Read the full story at

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Lunch Special: Denver sports chat with Mark Kiszla

September 22, 2017 - 9:14am

Want to chat about the latest in Broncos Country, or the Rockies’ September slide? Columnist Mark Kiszla is talking all things Denver sports, beginning at noon on Friday. Mobile users, if you can’t see the live chat, tap here.

The chat window will open at 11 a.m. so that readers can submit their questions to the queue early.

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