Here was a guy who had a knack for dropping passes all over the place. A guy who didn't seem to take things very seriously. A guy who although blessed with all the physical tools, it appeared at times as though he really didn't want it. And he was on pace to becoming another first round bust.
Harsh, I know, but when a receivers averaging almost a drop a game for most of his career, what else am I supposed to think?
Sure Bowe would dazzle Kansas City fans one game, and then look like he was trying to karate chop the ball the next. Sometimes watching him, it just looked unnatural when he was trying to catch the ball. That's not exactly the impression you want to have watching a wide receiver your team has picked in the first round of the draft.
Bowe's first season was full of promise. He caught 70 passes for 995 yards and five touchdowns. The Bowe show was kicking off, and Kansas City fans were eating it up. Bowe followed up that first season with 86 catches ( a Chiefs record) and over 1000 yards, but something wasn't quite right. Bowe had 13 that year, most of them not pretty. Especially troubling was that it didn't exactly appear to bother him.
The young star seemed more concerned with telling people how good he was, rather than showing them. The Bowe Show was in full swing, and D-Bowe was the center of it, all smiles and biceps poses, mugging for whatever camera was turned his way.
The next year, when head coach Todd Haley arrived in KC, it appeared he was not impressed by his number one receiver. Bowe showed for offseason workouts overweight, further causing concerns about his desire to succeed.
Dwayne Bowe is having a career year in Kansas City.
Haley did just about everything to get his young star going. He had Bowe's vision checked. He verbally assaulted Bowe. Haley even dropped Bowe to third string that summer, behind Terrance Copper, Devard Darling, Mark Bradley and an aging Amani Toomer. Bowe managed to earn his starting job back, battled a hamstring problem for most of the year, missed five games, and dropped 11 passes in the 11 games he played.
In October of that year, while the Chiefs were 0-5 and struggling, it looked like the Chiefs might trade Bowe for more picks to rebuild. They had picked up quarterback Matt Cassel that offseason, and it was obvious that they were going to need to fill some additional holes for 2010. Especially at wide receiver. Bowe looked to be the Chiefs most valuable expendable asset, and the Ravens and the Dolphins were rumored as trade partners. Both teams needed wide receiver help, and might have been willing to part with a couple of draft picks to get Bowe.
I was firmly in the camp to get him out of KC as soon as possible. Get rid of him while he still had value. The ghost Larry Johnson's extension was still hanging over the franchise, and I saw Bowe in a similar light-supremely talented, but in many ways flawed. I was convinced Bowe's apparent lack of focus was going to submarine his career.
Before this season, I was talking to WPI's Nick Athan on the phone. He was convinced that this was going to be the year number 82 turned things around. I laughed. "You're crazy," I told him. "Have you been watching the last couple of years? There's no way."
The first San Diego game cemented it for me. "One catch for 13 yards," I scoffed. "Get him out of here." I won't even mention the Indianapolis game. As the season progressed, I noticed something. Bowe plays with determination now. That smile is still there, but there's something different behind it. A new energy. A new…focus. This season, Bowe has been spectacular. He catches big passes. He breaks tackles. He blocks downfield like a man possessed.
Now, Bowe averages a touchdown a game. After 15 games, he's caught 67 passes for 1094 yards, averaging almost 17 yards a game. The Chiefs are a running team, but he's a huge part of the offense. Almost indispensable. Bowe is the number one receiver on one the NFL's most potent offenses, and his turnaround is a big reason for why the Chiefs have gone from a 4-12 AFC doormat to AFC West Champions.
Pro Bowl receiver Dwayne Bowe is a leader on the AFC West Champion Kansas City Chiefs. It looks like the joke is on me.
WARPAINT ILLUSTRATED MESSAGE BOARDS:
What do you think of Bowe's All Pro selection?