If you want to summon up some benefit of the doubt in the arrest late Sunday of Chiefs receiver Dwayne Bowe on an allegation that he was in possession of more than 10 grams of marijuana, you could concoct a scenario wherein he was just so zeroed in on the showdown this Sunday at Denver that he already was visualizing himself in Colorado.
As it happens, the accusation against Bowe would not have been afoul of the law even in that state, where Amendment 64 legalized marijuana within a private residence or carrying only up to one ounce (which is a little more than 28 grams) when traveling.
But more to the point, the claim against him suggests something entirely different:
It implies that Bowe was brazenly oblivious to his responsibility to his teammates and the Chiefs organization, just as the team has surged back to life at 9-0 and prepares for its highest-profile game in years on Sunday at Denver, 8-1.
Now, an athlete smoking pot would be less than shocking and hardly an atrocity, even if it’s not what you might want emphasized about those we often still insist on viewing as role models despite their human vulnerabilities.
And if Bowe partook, it certainly was more about bad judgment than malice.
But it still would be a dereliction of duty to allow himself to be in the public eye this way, especially after he was awarded with a $56 million contract in the offseason, and one that carries with it some hard questions:
Was he impaired while driving? If so, the notion of it being a victimless crime may have hinged only on fortune.
Is this an emerging habit, and if so, more than an occasional escape?
If it is, does it account at all for a season in which he’s had a fair number of dropped passes and only 33 catches, putting him on a pace for a career-low 59 catches for a full season?
He had 59 in 13 games before a rib injury ended his 2012 season, and he had 47 in 2009 when he missed one game with a hamstring injury and four for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs.
And how will this affect the Chiefs, especially since at minimum it will pose a “distraction,” a word and concept that coaches despise, at least until it’s resolved?
The league may wait until Bowe’s scheduled Dec. 18 court date to take action that could mean a suspension from one to four games. The Chiefs are allowed to suspend Bowe, but at least initially they don’t appear so inclined: A team spokesman told The Star that Bowe practiced Monday.
So this will be hovering for a while, regardless of whether Bowe plays Sunday at Denver.
Chiefs coach Andy Reid and players weren’t available to comment on Tuesday, but the guess here is that when they speak today no one will condemn Bowe.
Instead, some will express disappointment even as the overriding message will be that Bowe made a mistake, he’s forgiven and he’s still family to us.
And, really, that’s what they should say and should feel, isn’t it?
Especially if all this harmony and positive chemistry that we’ve seen Reid and general manager John Dorsey instill in the team has seeped through the way it appears to have.
What happens now will illuminate the reality of that in ways that the prosperity of going 9-0 can’t.
So will the Chiefs be galvanized by this, or will they be, in fact, preoccupied by it?
Bet on the former. This is a strong-willed, veteran group, led well and still extracting the misery of the last few seasons from its craw. It’s come too far to let this silliness get in the way.
It’s not as simple as they’ll beat the Broncos if they are together or that they’ll lose if not. Because, of course, they could win or lose that game with or without Bowe.
But how they perform will offer a clue to how this is being felt deep inside the locker room, too.
The Chiefs have been revived this season because of a spectacular defense, terrific special-teams play and an offensive game plan contoured to those strengths and sparked by Jamaal Charles.
Notably, Bowe is only their third-leading receiver in terms of yards per catch and third in yards gained.
Though there’s no way to calculate his value in terms of drawing defenders away to open up opportunities for others, he hasn’t been their best or most reliable receiver.
They’ve also enjoyed a few helpings of good fortune, plenty of which they’ve created because they’ve come to believe they will.
“You’ve just got to make it happen,” cornerback Brandon Flowers said after the Chiefs beat Cleveland 23-17 with some help from a muffed punt that Frank Zombo outwrestled the Browns for. “Last year, the ball didn’t bounce our way. This year, we feel like we’ve got to take it by force.”
Now for the first time this season, the Chiefs go into a game with the ball bouncing away from them.
But don’t expect them to do anything but try to seize it back just because Bowe has some explaining to do.