Dwayne Bowe gave the football version of the time-honored clichéd spring training story when he announced after an OTA that he’s in the best shape of his life.
There is every reason to be skeptical about Bowe. He followed up a five-year, $56 million contract with perhaps the worst season of his career. He is paid like an elite receiver, and instead gave the Chiefs 57 catches, 673 yards, five touchdowns and an arrest for marijuana possession (it was later pleaded down, and he paid a fine).
When Scott Pioli was in charge of the Chiefs, part of his hesitation to pay Bowe big money was the fear of how the receiver would respond. The fear that Bowe would think of a big new contract as his personal Super Bowl, his moment of “I made it” and an invitation to stop working as hard.
If you’re inclined to think that way, then you look at last season as confirmation.
But if, like me, you’re inclined to believe that Bowe’s heart is almost always in the right place and that he cares about his teammates and views football as his identity (in a good way), then you look at what’s happened since last season as the appropriate response.
This isn’t just self-promotion. Three months ago, when Bowe told reporters he hired a personal trainer and nutritionist, he did it only after the third question about his offseason. And this week, it’s not just Bowe talking about how great of shape he’s in. Head coach Andy Reid, receivers coach David Culley, and others are noticing and complimenting.
None of this erases a disappointing 2013 season for Bowe. And being in good shape in June is nice, but it doesn’t matter without production in the fall and (the Chiefs hope) winter. So we don’t know what this means. We can’t know what it means, yet.
But — so far — Bowe is responding to a down year after a big contract in exactly the way you’d hope.