What were you thinking, Da’Quan Bowers? Or, more to the point, why weren’t you thinking?
Bowers was about to board a plane from New York to Raleigh, N.C., when he alerted ticket counter employees to the gun in his carry-on bag, according to USA Today’s Mike Garafolo.
Bowers told the folks at the counter he had a gun in his bag when he checked in, Queens DA spokeswoman said.— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) February 18, 2013
This brings up another question: How did Bowers get to New York with the gun in the first place? The Tampa Bay Times reported that Bowers flew from North Carolina to New York with the gun unknowingly stowed in his bag. He had hoped by alerting the ticketing employees that he would be allowed to return to North Carolina in the same fashion.
JoeBucsFan.com scoured some New York public records and found that Bowers was released from jail after he posted bond and must return to court on April 11 for his next court date.
It’s very early in the information-gathering process. Tampa Bay general manager Mark Dominik refuses to comment until more is known. But others have chimed in on just how serious this offense could be for Bowers.
A Queens Country District Attorney spokeswoman told the Tampa Bay Times that criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree is punishable by anywhere from a minimum of three-and-a-half years to a maximum of 15 years in prison.
This is the same offense that landed wide receiver Plaxico Burress in jail after Burress shot himself in a night club in 2008. Burress spent 20 months in jail after pleading to a lesser charge.
Garafolo polled a number of lawyers who felt Bowers might not get as harsh of a sentence as Burress, especially if the gun is registered in North Carolina or Florida.
Still might be some jail time involved but the lawyers I polled believe it won't be anywhere near the 20-month stint Plax got. We'll see.— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) February 19, 2013
What’s next for the Buccaneers?
The first court date for the case isn’t scheduled until April 11, so it’s highly unlikely that Bowers’ fate will be known prior to the NFL draft. This is important because starting defensive end Michael Bennett will become an unrestricted free agent when the free agency period begins in March. If Bennett leaves Tampa Bay via free agency and Bowers is sentenced to jail time, the Buccaneers are in a serious pinch at the defensive end position.
It just became very important for Tampa Bay to re-sign Bennett, and it may force the team to shift priorities in the draft.
Outside of the legal ramifications for Bowers, the defensive end will almost certainly face punishment from the NFL. Farther down the pecking order, Bowers may also be punished by head coach Greg Schiano, who is known for handling off-the-field issues with an iron fist.
Unless otherwise noted, all quotes and statements were obtained firsthand.