I am one of those people that have to reflect on something for a while involving the Chiefs before rational thinking prevails. I am reactionary, passionate; in short, I am a fan. So after Dwayne Bowe’s deadline came and went for the Chiefs to reach a long-term deal with him, I decided to take a day to see how I felt about it. Surprisingly enough, over that 24-hour span, my opinion on it didn’t change: I was just plain indifferent.
But I shouldn’t be.
My indifference most likely exists because at no point this summer has positive chatter existed about the contract negotiations between Bowe and the Chiefs. With this lack of information, it was hard to feel disappointment when the realization sunk in that this could be Bowe’s last season with an Arrowhead on his helmet.
But I should have.
It should always pain a fan a little bit inside when a player that your team gave the franchise tag to can’t reach a long-term agreement (unless that team did so in order to get value out of a trade like what occurred to our beloved Matt Cassel). If the Chiefs and Tamba Hali had been unable to reach a long-term agreement before his franchise tag deadline, I would have been TWEETING IN ALL CAPS AND USING EXCLAMATION MARKS LIBERALLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Instead, I am now writing this post in an attempt to piss myself off about the Bowe situation.
Maybe the Hali example should have given fans a clue. When Tamba was tagged, this is what Scott Pioli had to say in the Chiefs press release: “Tamba is a key contributor to our football team, and we have a tremendous amount of respect for him both personally and professionally. We want Tamba to remain a member of the Chiefs, and we will continue to work together with the hope of reaching a long-term agreement.”
This is what the press release for Bowe’s tag said: “Today was the league’s deadline to designate a franchise player and we felt it was in the best interest of the Kansas City Chiefs to place the tag on Dwayne.”
It seems that Scott Pioli was about an indifferent as I am now in regards to the Chiefs’ leading receiver. And that’s exactly why I should be upset.
Pioli lead us to believe (or we heard what we wanted to hear) that retaining both Bowe and cornerback Brandon Carr would be tough. When Bowe was given the franchise tag and Brandon Carr’s value was appreciated on the open market, we convinced ourselves that this loss wouldn’t be in vain; that by letting Carr leave for his mega-bucks in Dallas, we would have the financial flexibility to sign the guy who accounted for 36 percent of our passing offense the last two seasons to a long-term deal.
We were mistaken.
I don’t blame Bowe for not signing a long-term deal. Since being a first round draft selection in 2007, he has only been a part of one winning season. If Bowe is seeing where the direction of the franchise is heading – and 2012 will be a fantastic litmus test for determining how close the Chiefs are for perennial contention – before making a decision, then more power to him; who wouldn’t do the same in his position?
What I should be upset about is how the organization preaches the retention of home-grown talent and yet in consecutive years we could be losing two mainstays of our team. What I am upset about is how we hope that Pioli and Bowe are having productive negotiations behind closed doors and now I am reading articles about how we shouldn’t expect to see Bowe back with the team in 2013 (here’s one by Kansas City Star writer Kent Babb and another one by NFL.com insider Jason La Canfora).
But alas, I am still stuck on indifferent. Is it because the hidden magnitude of this event hasn’t sunk in? Is it because I have faith that it will work itself out during the year and Bowe will get the money he seeks? Is it because he still has 2012 with the team so the pain will not reach me until he is truly a free agent? Or is it because I think the Chiefs are at the point in their offense where a single player, no matter how good, can’t hold the team hostage anymore?
Perhaps the latter.
As good as Bowe is, he is no longer the lone receiving threat on the team. The Chiefs have been quite active in, well, seemingly replacing him. The team has drafted three receivers in two years (Baldwin, 2011; Wylie, 2012; Hemingway, 2012), and it could have been their plan from the beginning to replace Bowe with Jon Baldwin. Maybe this is just part of the master plan we, as fans, are not privy to.
Whichever reason it is (I’m still not certain myself), I hope this lack of feeling is not the sign that I’m losing touch with the Chiefs fan base having lived in Steelers country for two months now.