After spending the first eight years of his career with the Chiefs, Dwayne Bowe signed with the Cleveland Browns in March.
But it’s safe to say his heart is still in Kansas City.
Bowe traveled there last week to pay respects to Betty Johnson, a longtime Chiefs ticket-holder who passed away at the age of 86. Bowe would give Johnson a kiss before every game – and he did the same thing at her funeral.
“She sits right behind the bench and coming up our tunnel, she’s always there,” Bowe said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “She’s the first one in the stadium, the last one out. My grandma is really, really sick and she couldn’t make the games, so I pretty much didn’t have no family there. But they adopted me and every game I just always gave her a kiss. She always made it possible for kids that had never been to a game to come to the game and get autographs and get pictures. She always used to tell me, ‘It’s more than just football.’ She takes care of like 50-something kids, and that’s the same thing my grandma did raising me and my father and our whole family. We had similar traits. The things she did for her family are the same things my grandma did for our family, and that’s what I do for my family. She just touched me from day one, being a rookie and even to now. Now that she’s passed, she just left me with so much joy and let me know it was more than just playing the game. It’s about the people you touch and the people you bring along.”
Bowe said a few words at Johnson’s funeral and sent her flowers, writing, “You might have thought you were the Chiefs’ No. 1 fan, but in so many ways, we were yours. Thanks for making Arrowhead feel like home to me. I will continue to play my heart out for you. Kisses to you, my special angel.”
People sacrifice a lot to be fans of a team and come to games. They give their time, their money and their emotions. For a player like Bowe to return the favor is truly amazing.
“We’re human and we have feelings,” Bowe said of athletes. “When you build a relationship with somebody who gives their all or just gives anything to come to watch you play and look at you like a grandchild, it means more than just putting on a jersey and just playing for the organization. She just put it in perfect sense that no matter how I do on the field, I will always have a home and always have a place in her heart and her family. And that’s how I just carried it, and I played with that chip on my shoulder. I played for (her) family as well.”
Looking ahead, Bowe – who has 532 catches for 7,155 yards and 44 touchdowns in his career – will try to improve a Browns team that went 7-9 last year and hasn’t made the playoffs since 2002.
Bowe, it is worth noting, has been impressed with Johnny Manziel thus far.
“He’s a cool guy,” Bowe said. “Very misunderstood, very humble. We threw yesterday, and it went well. He’s a great dude, great leader off the field and he’s going to be even greater now. I think his focus has tuned in and now he got somebody like me who he can lean on. That’s all you need. You just need a couple of positive guys around you that’s going to shoot you straight and keep your focus and that’s what kind of vibe I bring. That’s what kind of energy I bring around a team and into the locker room.”