Don't Kill the Mellinger

Columnist Sam Mellinger's thoughts on sports and other important stuff

On Dwayne Bowe, marijuana, grandstanding and the real problem here


11/12/2013 12:29 PM

05/16/2014 10:42 AM

The problem with Dwayne Bowe speeding through Riverside with a small amount of marijuana in his Audi A8 isn’t that he was speeding or had a small amount of marijuana in his car.

Weed is increasingly being legalized throughout the United States — including Colorado, where the Chiefs play the Broncos this weekend in the biggest game of the season so far — and if those who smoked weed could not play sports, the games we watch from the NFL all the way down to junior high soccer would look a lot different.

So, no. The problem with

his arrest

is not weed.

The problem is Bowe.

He has lost the benefit of the doubt, and a $56 million contract signed this offseason made him among the NFL’s highest-paid receivers and symbolized a trust that he would act like an adult.

Those who make too much of the arrest from a moral or legal standpoint are either grandstanding or unrealistic. Unless there is something more behind the drug use —harder stuff, for instance, or a Tamarick Vanover-like drug ring — then Bowe was basically doing what that a lot of high school or college kids do, only in a much nicer car.

So save the moral and legal outrage.

But Bowe has a personal history that makes it fair to criticize him for making a very stupid mistake.

Bowe was suspended four games in 2009 for violating the league’s banned substance policy, which he blamed on a mix-up with some pills his grandmother sent. He told the infamous "

importing" story to ESPN Magazine, initially claiming to be either misquoted or misunderstood, then mostly going silent when an editor at the magazine offered to play tape of the interview. There is enough of a history here that a few years ago, Pro Football Talk quoted a league source

calling Bowe "the single biggest dumbass in the NFL."

Bowe’s mistakes have been mistakes of stupidity, not malice. Bowe doesn’t have a history of being a bad guy, in other words. He’s a beloved teammate,

trusted enough to convince coaches to change plays mid-game.

There have never been questions about his work ethic.

But Bowe is 29-years-old now, proud owner of an enormous contract. This is his seventh year in the NFL. He let his team down, and at a critical point.

That’s not moralizing.

That’s just reality.



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