When the Buccaneers instilled their faith in defensive end Da'Quan Bowers to become a full-time starter after his gun incident in New York in February, it seemed safe to assume the 23-year old would avoid any disciplinary action from the league. However, from a league standpoint, it appears Bowers is not out of the clear yet.
Pewter Report has learned that Bowers' incident is still under review, according to league spokesman Greg Aiello.
This may come as a surprise to many as it has been over five months since Bowers' arrest. But at the same time, the league does a thorough investigation into players involved in off-field situations. Those situations include cases where players plead guilty to a reduced charge, like the disorderly conduct charge Bowers plead guilty to on April 11. The league's personal conduct policy describes anyone guilty of conduct detrimental is subject to league discipline, including pleading guilty to any lesser charge.
In the policy, it also states that unlawful possession of a weapon (or gun) outside of the workplace (stadiums, team facilities, etc.) will be grounds for discipline from the league. That does not necessarily mean a suspension will be handed down from the commissioner's office. A fine or something less, like community service hours, could be some possible outcomes as well.
A similar case in 2010 involving then Cleveland Browns defensive tackle Shaun Rogers resulted in a fine for the veteran defensive tackle in the amount equal to one game check ― approximately $400,000 per The Cleveland Plain Dealer. Rogers was carrying a loaded gun in his carry-on bag which a security screener spotted via an X-ray machine at Cleveland Hopkins Airport. The arrest occurred on April 1 of that year and the decision on fining Rogers came almost five full months after his arrest, August 31.
Bowers was initially charged with the same charges that former New York Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress was charged with back in 2008 ― two felony counts of criminal possession of a weapon. Burress would be sentenced to two years in prison after pleading guilty to a lesser weapons charge, like Rogers and Bowers. Difference here is Burress' gun went off which resulted in a self-inflicted gunshot wound for the veteran receiver at a New York nightclub and jail time.
The cases have their similarities but also their differences. Gun laws vary by state and Bowers was able to plead guilty to a misdemeanor gun charge which New York state laws permit. And Bowers, in his case, did the right thing from the beginning by informing the nearest employee at LaGuardia Airport of the gun at check-in.
Still, with the uncertainty of what can happen to the third-year defensive end from Clemson, the Bucs fully committed themselves to Da'Quan Bowers as a full-time starter at defensive end after allowing veteran Michael Bennett to test free agency. Bennett, who had nine sacks and 84 total tackles last season with Tampa Bay, signed with the Seattle Seahawks this offseason.
But while there may be uncertainty, head coach Greg Schiano has said he is banking on Bowers developing into an every down player. And Bowers has already set the bar high for himself.
“I'm looking to be dominant,” Bowers said back in June. “I take the responsibility for that. Anything less than double-digit sacks is a failure for the season.”
So while Bowers is clear to go on with his life per the law, the league holds the cards as to what to do with with the former Clemson Tiger as the season draws closer. What was once a feeling of Bowers escaping any punishment from the league is now a feeling of if Bowers will suit up Week 1 or write a check out to the league office. That is, if the NFL chooses to file any disciplinary action against him.