Drunken driving charge latest in setbacks for winless Chiefs

Originally Published: September 21, 2004
Associated Press

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Their star running back is wearing an ankle brace and their best defensive back just got arrested.

That's the latest from the winless Kansas City Chiefs, a team that's opened the year 0-2 by missing tackles, dropping passes and looking nothing like the savvy collection of skilled veterans -- fresh off a 13-3 season -- that many fans expected would end their season in the Super Bowl.

"There'll be some teams 2-0 that will fold and there will be some teams that are 0-2 come on strong," coach Dick Vermeil said Tuesday. "These guys have been through adversity before."

The latest dose of bad news came early Monday when cornerback Eric Warfield was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving a few hours after intercepting two passes and returning one for a touchdown.

Johnson County, Kan., District Attorney Paul Morrison said he intends to file charges against Warfield. It would be the third time Warfield faced such a charge in the past three years. Under Kansas law, a third drunken driving charge is a felony that comes with a sentence of up to a year in jail.

Morrison, who said the case could be delayed until after the season, said professional athletes can expect no special leniency.

"We try to treat them like we would any other person," he said. "They sure don't get any special treatment."

Warfield could also be subject to a league suspension as a repeat violator. NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said Commissioner Paul Tagliabue would decided on any punishment, but not until the criminal case is finished.

Vermeil said he plans to start Warfield on Sunday at home against the Houston Texans.

"The only thing is I've been instructed by the Players Association and the NFL to make no comments in regard to Eric Warfield," Vermeil said. "It all goes into the legal world on both sides, and that totally eliminates a guy like myself.

There also was no good news on the status of running back Priest Holmes, who has led the NFL the past three years with 4,590 yards rushing, 6,566 total yards from scrimmage and 61 touchdowns. Holmes came out of Sunday's 28-17 loss to Carolina with about eight minutes left, and doctors said Monday he had an ankle sprain.

Without him, the Chiefs' already-struggling offense could be devastated. Holmes hurt his hip in the 14th game of the 2002 season and the Chiefs totaled only 97 yards rushing in their next two games.

"What it amounts to is how long it takes for the ankle to feel comfortable and go back to work on," Vermeil said. "It's not a severe sprain. I think we have to list him at questionable."

Even more pessimistic is the report on Eddie Kennison, the Chiefs' best receiver. He hurt his hamstring on a fly pattern Sunday, further weakening a position that's already been hurt by the loss of Marc Boerigter and versatile rookie Kris Wilson.

"He's our fastest receiver," Vermeil said. "You take him out, it doesn't help you in any way. But I still have a degree of optimism he might be able to go."

The mistakes that cost the Chiefs in their first two games haven't been limited to players. Vermeil admits he made bad decisions in the Carolina game, when he twice elected to have rookie placekicker Lawrence Tynes try for a field goal on fourth-and-1. Tynes went 1-for-2.

"I should have had more confidence in my offensive line to make 1 yard," Vermeil said. "The rule of thumb is ... if you're playing a good football team make sure you get three points. I should have shown more confidence in my football team to let them go ahead and try to make it."

After this week's home game against the 0-2 Texans, the Chiefs take to the road for what could be tough games at Baltimore and Jacksonville.

"The overall team morale is good," Vermeil said. "They certainly don't consider themselves out of the race. And it's my job to let them know that we aren't the only team that's started out 0-2 and ended up being successful."

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press

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