Chiefs wide receiver Dwayne Bowe says he’s in the best shape of his career. But he’ll have to wait a week to debut his new self in the regular season after the NFL on Friday suspended him one game for a substance-abuse violation.
Bowe, who will miss the season opener against Tennessee on Sept. 7, will be eligible to return to the active roster on Sept. 8. He can continue to practice with the team in the preseason but cannot be in the team facility during the week of the Tennessee game.
The suspension is related to Bowe’s Nov. 10 arrest for allegedly speeding and possessing more than 10 grams of marijuana. Those charges were later amended.
“I am extremely sorry that I can’t be on the field for the first game of the 2014 season because I made an error in judgment,” Bowe said in a statement. “I take responsibility for my mistake, and it will not happen again. I hope that my teammates, coaches, and Chiefs fans accept my sincere apology.
“I will be supporting my teammates in week one, and I cannot wait to get back on the field to help us win in week two and beyond as we work towards our goal of winning the Super Bowl.”
Bowe had five days to appeal the suspension, but it appears he won’t take that route. The Chiefs play at Denver in week two.
The suspension creates an interesting situation for the Chiefs. According to salary-cap expert Joel Corry, it voids Bowe’s base-salary guarantees of $8.75 million and $1.5 million in 2014 and 2015, which makes it a little easier for the Chiefs to part ways with their star receiver, should they choose to do so.
For instance, if the Chiefs were to release Bowe this season, instead of being forced to carry a $12 million cap charge this season — as they would have if they cut him before the season — they’d instead gain $8.75 million in cap space.
Also, if the Chiefs decide to part ways with Bowe after the season, they could create $11 million in cap space by designating him a post-June 1 cut. Before the suspension, they could have created $9.5 million by doing the same.
The November arrest occurred when Bowe was pulled over for traveling 48 mph in a 35-mph zone, according to Riverside police. He was arrested after police found a black bag containing his wallet, driver’s license and two containers of what an officer suspected to be marijuana in the car, which also had two passengers.
According to the police report, the officer detected what he suspected was a strong marijuana odor and Bowe stated that “they had smoked a little” marijuana.
One of Bowe’s passengers, George A. Thompson, said the bag belonged to him, police said. During a search of Thompson, police also found two hand-rolled cigarettes containing 2.2 grams of suspected marijuana.
Thompson later indicated under oath that all the marijuana found in the car was his and that Bowe had no knowledge of its presence.
Bowe didn’t miss any games last season following the arrest. In April, he pleaded guilty in Riverside Municipal Court to charges of defective equipment and littering. He paid $610 in fines.
“We are disappointed in the situation and will miss him on the field, but we support the league’s decision,” the Chiefs said in a news release.
The NFL’s substance-abuse policy covers several illegal drugs, including marijuana, and allows the league to suspend players without pay for up to four regular and/or postseason games for a first-time violation that does not involve alcohol.
This marks the second time Bowe has been suspended without pay. He served a four-game suspension in 2009 for violating the NFL’s policy against performance-enhancing substances.
Bowe signed a five-year, $56 million contract last offseason and approached career lows with 57 catches, 673 yards and five touchdowns in 2013.
Bowe, who turns 30 in September, hired a nutritionist and a personal trainer for the first time this offseason and has earned praise from his coaches regarding his conditioning.
He caught one pass for 10 yards in the Chiefs’ preseason win over the Bengals on Aug. 7.