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Old 11-29-2010, 02:33 AM  
Tribal Warfare Tribal Warfare is offline
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Mellinger: Bowe still building trust

Bowe still building trust
By SAM MELLINGER
The Kansas City Star

SEATTLE | Dwayne Bowe is a star now, his “I AM THE GREATEST” hat looking at least a little truthful, which is this Chiefs season’s defining story and the team’s most encouraging development going forward.

So long as it doesn’t turn awful.

Bowe is the new leadership’s masterpiece, the face of a transition from punks to playoffs, the shining example of the organization’s emphasis on character, and the knucklehead receiver playing like an honest-to-goodness MVP candidate is a dream come true.

So long as it doesn’t turn into a nightmare.

Bowe made 13 catches for 170 yards and three touchdowns in the Chiefs’ 42-24 win over the Seahawks on Sunday, as good a game as any NFL receiver will have this season, and today team officials cross their fingers and hope that Bowe doesn’t start acting like a superstar now that he’s finally playing like one.

Because if he fails this test, Bowe’s 13 touchdowns in the last seven games will feel more like an agonizing reminder of what could’ve been.

And if he passes, we’re seeing the emergence of perhaps the most productive receiver in franchise history and an absolute key to everything the Chiefs are trying to do.

“My job is to keep my head down, run, block and catch,” he says.

So, do you trust him?

• • •

Brian Waters is encouraged. He’s also cautious.

This is Waters’ 11th professional season, and the way things are going it’s easy to imagine him making his fifth Pro Bowl. He is the NFL’s reigning Man of the Year and in that rare place of career achievement reached only through mind-blowing, body-numbing consistency.

Bowe is as good as the NFL has had over his last seven games. That’s great and all, but also less than 5 percent of Waters’ career.

“We still have five games left this season, plus the playoffs hopefully,” Waters says. “So this is something he’s going to have to continue.”

Bowe is acting more professional, less like a clown. Waters and everyone else in the organization sees this. Bowe gets to practice early and stays late. The game film that used to expose all of Bowe’s faults now shows him blocking downfield and running crisp routes even when the ball’s not coming his way.

So much has been done to get Bowe on a better path. He’s never been a bad guy, just an airhead. His faults are more stupid than malice, more goofball than diva, so the Chiefs stripped him of that “D-Bowe” moniker and treated him more like a college freshman than a four-year professional.

The results are breathtaking. With either Verran Tucker or Terrance Copper serving as the No. 2 receiver, Bowe has reshaped the Chiefs’ passing game.

Quarterback Matt Cassel averaged 163 yards and threw four touchdowns with three interceptions the first four games. During Bowe’s seven-game Jerry Rice imitation, Cassel is averaging 237 yards with 18 touchdowns and one interception. An offense that averaged 19 points through four games is averaging 30 the last seven.

Bowe leads the NFL with 14 touchdowns, more than Tony Gonzalez ever had in a season, and it’s telling that the league’s best rushing team threw him a fade route on a key third-and-1 play in the fourth quarter and there was absolutely no doubt it was the right call.

So, do you trust this to last?

Do you think he’s now an elite receiver?

“He’s working his way there,” Waters says carefully.

This would all be so much simpler if Bowe hadn’t started in such a hole.

• • •

Six months ago, a lot of you wanted Bowe cut. That’s when he dropped the “importing” quote to ESPN The Magazine and then issued that ridiculous non-apology.

Fifty days ago, a lot of you still wanted Bowe cut. That’s when he dropped that touchdown pass that might have changed a loss into a win and then dropped another pass on the very next play in Indianapolis.

Heck, even just 22 days ago, some of you still wanted Bowe gone. That’s when he dropped a pass in Oakland that turned what would have been a win in regulation into a loss in overtime.

We still remember all of this, right?

So, do you trust him?

These are different situations, but Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli already guessed wrong on one of these men-can-change questions when he stuck with Larry Johnson too long.

Bowe has earned at least some trust. He is in the best shape of his life. His practice habits are better than ever. He’s far from perfect, but two game-changing moments aside, he isn’t dropping nearly as many passes as a year ago.

The reality is the Chiefs have no choice but to believe this is a legitimate evolution, to believe that Bowe is finally understanding the connection between weekday professionalism and Sunday success.

For all the Chiefs’ talk about character and solid citizens, this is still a bottom-line business, and Bowe is too good for business to do anything but smile and hope that what he says is more genuine than programmed.

Chiefs coach Todd Haley likes to reference the old Bill Parcells line about success being the biggest obstacle to success, so now the team must wait to see whether Bowe can be the exception.

• • •

The Chiefs’ PR man leans into Dwayne Bowe’s ear and promises to cut off the questions before they go too far. Even with success, nobody can be sure how this will go. Bowe nods his head, but looks utterly unconcerned as he puts on a plain black T-shirt and sparkling diamond watch and turns around to smile at the reporters.

“Hello,” he says, and he speaks quietly.

Bowe doesn’t like to know his stats until Monday, but when he hears the final tally — 13 catches for 170 yards and three touchdowns — he says there is “still more to go.” He dropped that last pass, you remember, and when he watches video today he expects to see more he could have done better.

I ask whether he sees a direct link between what his teammates say is an improved attitude and what everyone else sees is improved performance, but he doesn’t answer directly, instead talking about keeping his head down and that “our main goal is to win it all.”

He says he “won’t feel right until we at least make it there,” so I ask what that means. He says “the big dance” but says he doesn’t know whether that means the playoffs or the Super Bowl.

The rest of a five-minute group interview is disjointed, the team-endorsed talk about being professional juxtaposed with what sounds more like the old D-Bowe talking about his different touchdown celebrations.

It’s a winding road, full of contradictions, right up until the last question, when I ask whether he thinks he needed the problems of his past to achieve his current success, and maybe the answer was programmed, but it sounded sincere.

“I just think everything happens for a reason, no matter what it is,” he says. “I think everything happens for a reason, to put you where you are right now. Who knows what could’ve happened back then, or if it wouldn’t have happened, what kind of player would I be? I just think everything happens for a reason.”
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Old 11-29-2010, 02:37 AM   #2
A1DonkKiller A1DonkKiller is offline
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Herm needs a little props for the players he drafted.
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Old 11-29-2010, 02:50 AM   #3
Phobia Phobia is offline
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This is a good column. I have many of the same questions. It's going to be interesting to watch. My nightmare is that this team actually makes a big game and Bowe drops a game-winner. So, I guess my answer is "no" - I don't trust him. Yet.
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Old 11-29-2010, 03:04 AM   #4
BryanBusby BryanBusby is offline
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Originally Posted by A1DonkKiller View Post
Herm needs a little props for the players he drafted.
Yes, because the rest of that draft class netted so many talented NFL players. The only good draft the Chiefs had was when Kuharich took over in the war room.
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Old 11-29-2010, 05:20 AM   #5
Chiefs4TheWin Chiefs4TheWin is offline
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Originally Posted by Phobia View Post
This is a good column. I have many of the same questions. It's going to be interesting to watch. My nightmare is that this team actually makes a big game and Bowe drops a game-winner. So, I guess my answer is "no" - I don't trust him. Yet.
Yeah pretty much all of this.
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Old 11-29-2010, 06:17 AM   #6
MichaelH MichaelH is offline
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I'd say the best way to build trust is to catch the ball, run with it after catching the ball and no fumbling it. And after this is accomplished, get up and act like it's normal and part of your job.
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Old 11-29-2010, 07:44 AM   #7
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Bowe needs to do it for more than one year...lets see him act professionally in the offf season and then come back with another productive year. I'll wait on the trust factor.
I could see him turn into a headcase.
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Old 11-29-2010, 08:18 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phobia View Post
This is a good column. I have many of the same questions. It's going to be interesting to watch. My nightmare is that this team actually makes a big game and Bowe drops a game-winner. So, I guess my answer is "no" - I don't trust him. Yet.
Precisely! Just finish the season "playing clutch" showing me he has rid himself of ADD of the hands and mind when a "clutch play" is needed and do it consistently until at least the end of the season is all I am asking

Bowe finally lives up to his first rd pick and Cassel finally earns 'some' of his 63 mil yesterday and yes it was a breath of fresh air but let's not go overboard "Rose colored Chief homers". It was only ONE game where we finally had the chemistry flowing that "SHOULD'VE BEEN FLOWING" against a poor team. BUT it least it has started flowing!! Let's see if this continues the next 2 weeks when it "really counts" with good "clutch play".
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Old 11-29-2010, 08:25 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by A1DonkKiller View Post
Herm needs a little props for the players he drafted.
Fail... That is the equivalent of saying "I know I killed that entire family during my botched robbery of their home but at least I gave the money to charity."
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