Dwayne Bowe let me behind his public persona one time that I recall, but it was a revealing look. I caught him one-on-one in the Kansas City Chiefs locker room late in the 2012 season, when I was still working for the Kansas City Star.
The Chiefs were close to finishing a dismal season, and rumors were rampant that Bowe, whose contract was about to expire, was unhappy with the Chiefs and wanted out of Kansas City. I cornered Bowe to ask him about this, and he strongly denied it. He proved that a couple months later by signing a long-term contract to remain with the Chiefs, the same contract he was released from this week.
But more than for the story itself, Bowe and I talked for awhile otherwise. Bowe showed a vulnerable side that I’d only heard about, that people who knew him just from his on-field antics would never believe.
He was truly hurt about the perception that he wanted to ditch the Chiefs and leave Kansas City to play football for another team. He was deeply troubled that it made him look like he was above his teammates, coaches and everything else that makes up the Chiefs. He granted the interview, I suppose, for that reason alone.
That Bowe doesn’t line up with the one most fans saw, the one who pointed to the name on the back of his jersey after making a nice play, the one who predicted he would lead the NFL in catches before finishing that season with 57, the one who once called chairman Clark Hunt and his family "the Clarks" and the one who did all the other silly, attention-grabbing things that made up what he called the "D Bowe Show."
That wasn’t the genuine Bowe, I’ve been told by more than a few people close to Bowe. That stuff, they all said, was an act. Why he found it necessary I'll never understand.
Either way, Bowe was no diva. He never complained publicly when he didn’t get the ball enough or about the often-questionable quarterbacking for many of his Chiefs years.
I never had another player tell me anything but that Bowe was a good teammate, some of them emphatically. Matt Cassel chased me down after I thought an interview with him was over one time. He wanted to tell me yet another story about how much he enjoyed playing with Bowe.
Bowe had many faults as a player and some as a person, too. Now life at Arrowhead Stadium will go on without him.
But Bowe will leave a legacy behind, and it’s only a select few who will ever know what it really is.