Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Dwayne Bowe was suspended for the season opener against Tennessee on Friday for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy.
Bowe was pulled over for speeding in a Kansas City suburb on Nov. 10, and was arrested after police found a black bag containing his wallet, driver's license and two container of suspected marijuana. He later pleaded guilty to amended charges of defective equipment and littering, and his attorney said there was no admission of guilt for the marijuana charge, which was dismissed.
Bowe, who signed a $56 million, five-year deal last off-season, issued a statement through the NFL Players' Association shortly after the suspension was announced.
"I made an error in judgment. I take responsibility for my mistake and it will not happen again," he said. "I will be supporting my teammates in Week 1, and I cannot wait to get back on the field to help us win in Week 2 and beyond as we work toward our goal of winning the Super Bowl."
The one-game suspension is in line with punishments that have been handed down by the league in similar cases. Bowe will still be eligible to participate in preseason practices and games.
The loss of Bowe, even for one game, is significant for the Chiefs, who have struggled to find reliable wide receivers for years. They have several young players trying to earn a job in training camp, but Donnie Avery provides the only other veteran presence in the entire corps.
"We are disappointed in the situation and will miss him on the field," the Chiefs said in a statement, "but we support the league's decision. The club will have no further comment."
This isn't the first time that the 30-year-old Bowe has proven to be a distraction.
He was suspended four games in 2009 for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing drugs after taking what his agent called an unapproved weight-loss supplement. He also made questionable comments to a magazine a few years ago about womanizing that allegedly occurred at team hotels, and then misstated the name of Chiefs ownership family in his apology.
Bowe struggled to adjust to new coach Andy Reid's offence last season, catching just 57 passes for 673 yards and five touchdowns. But he showed up to training camp in better shape this fall, and Reid has expressed confidence that his top wide receiver will be able to bounce back.
Those efforts have been hampered by a recurring injury to one of his fingers. Bowe caught just one pass for 10 yards in the Chiefs' preseason opener against Cincinnati.
"His finger is shot. It's been thrown out of place about 15 times," Reid said, "so now he's not catching the ball but he's getting his work done. You can practice with that kind of thing."
Bowe is second in franchise history with 472 receptions, and last season he became the fastest to surpass 6,000 yards receiving for his career. He capped the year by catching eight passes for a franchise-record 150 yards in the Chiefs' wild-card loss to Indianapolis.
""He's in the best shape he's been in," Chiefs wide receivers coach David Culley said this week. "I know from last year this is completely different. When he came back from the off-season, he was in great shape. At 30, that's a mindset kind of thing. There are old 30s and there are young 30s — which do you want to be? Right now, when he came back, he came back as a young 30."