Dwayne Bowe: The Sonic conspiracy

Kevin C. Cox

The official story is that the Kansas City Chiefs receiver was holding and speeding en route to Sonic. But the full story is not yet known.

Even what we know is in shadow. A plane touches down late at night on a runway outside Kansas City. The brief shriek of the wheels, the low thrumming of the taxi to the jetway — all of this is effectively secret. It is right there to see and hear, it happened, but this part of Missouri is asleep. It's Sunday night. It's late. And now further down. Deeper into the dark.

Sirens, and two cars on a quiet road. In one, German-crafted and sleek, are three men and 14.6 grams of high-performance marijuana. In the other, a police officer who would take that marijuana from them and shine a light — not the faint ripple in the dark presented by his flashlight, but illumination that may yet brighten even the strangest corners of this still-emerging story — on what really happened that night.

That first dim beam was not much, but it was a start, the beginning of the answer to a question that still haunts: What was Dwayne Bowe doing on Sunday night on West Platte Road, somewhere just outside Kansas City and somewhere just beyond our knowing.


Satellite photos of the mysterious area known as "West Platte Drive."

Don't just imagine it. Try to see it. Try to be there, as midnight rushes up on Sunday night. Dwayne Bowe's Audi A8 is clocked by a police officer on Northwest Platte Drive, traveling at 48 miles-per-hour on a road with a speed limit of 35. The lights start to flash somewhere around where you see the little green "A" above.

Now follow that blue line up along the stretch of road that Dwayne Bowe never got to travel that night, up past the slumbering industry and over rustling Lane Creek, toward the little green "B." That marks the location of the Sonic to which we can only assume — given that Bowe is alleged to have asked the officer who pulled him over if he knew whether "the Sonic [was] open" — Bowe was headed.

That's 2707 NW Vivion Road. Bowe, as we know now and he could not have known then, would not make it to Sonic that night. There was an odor of marijuana in the car, and all those grams of marijuana — 6.5 grams of Bubba Kush, 4.2 grams of Apollo 11, 3.8 grams of Fire 0.6, and a pair of comically large, 2.2 gram "hand-rolled cigarettes." An arrest was made.

This is the official story. It is an answer, of sorts, but it is not the only answer. It is, the more we look, just an invitation to ask new questions still unanswered. A door that opens onto a dark room, with doors of its own.

Let's start with that destination unreached, the Sonic on 2707 NW Vivion Road. We know what we know about Sonic, which is what television shows us: the suspicious ice-chipped drinks, the tot-style taters, the two dudes in the car being weird about their fried cheesecake bites. And we know, about the Sonic on 2707 NW Vivion Road, that something is not as it should be.

"It's your basic Sonic restaurant. I'm only writing this review because they do not know basic food prep and cooking. I have never had hot or even warm french fries, tator (sic) tots or onion rings at this address."

This, we're asked to believe, is the food Dwayne Bowe wanted to eat that night.

And then there is that marijuana, all containers of which were labeled Medical Cannabis from California. Bowe admitted to the arresting officer that he had "smoked a little marijuana" while waiting at the airport, which is important as far as it goes, but also seems a bright and shining red herring — a distraction from the hazy strangeness that fills the rest of this story. There is, for instance, the fact that those containers of marijuana were explicitly labeled as coming from California — a state that Bowe and his Chiefs won't visit until Week 15 of this season, more than one month into the future.

Then there are those "hand-rolled cigarettes," each nearly four times the proscribed ideal size for a joint. The story asks us to believe that Bowe — an admitted user of marijuana — chose to roll marijuana cigarettes that looked more like fungo bats than blunts. There are those strains of marijuana themselves, all of which carry putative pain relief powers in their descriptions. But most notably there are those grams of Bubba Kush, a hybrid strain that, "provides an intense and relaxing sensation that starts in your head and moves down into your body." Even those who believe the official story can believe that description. It's an indica-heavy hybrid strain of Cannabis. But that's not all it is.

Go back. Go back further and you'll find that Bubba Kush, the marijuana that the numbers tell us is Bowe's cannabis of choice, was not developed in a lab in California. It was known, then, by the name Gainesville Green. Gainesville, as in the town in Florida that is home to the University of Florida. The same University of Florida that has a longstanding rivalry with Louisiana State University, where we know that Bowe spent four years of his life in the middle of the last decade. Bowe played football there, for LSU's Tigers. Bowe played, while at LSU, against the University of Florida Gators. In 2003, Gainesville watched, we can only assume enviously, as Bowe helped LSU to a National Championship. The next year, Bowe helped LSU defeat Florida, in front of tens of thousands of witnesses, right there in Gainesville's Ben Hill Stadium. The year after that, Bowe's touchdown helped LSU do it again, this time Baton Rouge.

Those are facts. So are these: Dwayne Bowe was speeding in his car, late at night, to a Sonic that is widely known to be terrible. He had, in his car and possibly in his system, a strain of marijuana which he doubtless believed to be from California, but which actually had deeper roots elsewhere — roots in Bowe's past, and in the sandy loam of a place with every reason to wish Bowe ill.

We're asked to ignore all this, to consent to see the story as the arresting officer and the Kansas City media wish to show it to us — a young man, high on marijuana, driving carelessly late at night, driven by sudden hunger and diminished impulse control to pursue greasy garbage food that he almost certainly knew to be greasy garbage food. No word on why a stoned man would make a terrible decision like this. No word on whether Bowe knew the marijuana he'd ingested had origins in a state with every reason to want to see him embarrassed. On all this, the official story is silent.

The Sonic at 2707 NW Vivion Road closes at midnight, which is something Dwayne Bowe did not know. That night, he was brought to the Riverside, Mo., police department without incident; his case is on its way to being closed. This story, though, is not over. We owe it not just to the truth, but to ourselves — to open every door, to interrupt the dark, to shine a light without fear of what it might show us.

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