ESPN Sits On Audio Despite Another Bowe Denial

Eddie Matz of ESPN The Magazine reported last month that Kansas City Chiefs receiver Dwayne Bowe told him that in 2007 his Chiefs teammates would “import” women to the hotel where the team was staying on road trips.

Dwayne Bowe

After Bowe’s story was published by ESPN, on May 26 former Bowe teammate Eddie Kennison told WHB-AM in Kansas City that Bowe told him he never talked to anyone from ESPN about the story.

On May 27 Bowe himself was asked by a K.C. reporter, “What about the actual interview? Did you actually talk to the guy?

Bowe replied, “I really can’t remember, man. That’s why I’m still stuck in a daze.”

Bowe also claimed he was, “misquoted” and “the way he (ESPN reporter) took it was totally not the way that I said it.

After Bowe’s hedging denials, ESPN The Magazine editor Gary Belsky revealed that Matz had taped his conversation with Bowe and offered to play the audio file for Bowe or anyone within the Chiefs organization.

Though ESPN subsequently declined to release the audio to the public, leaving some to wonder about the veracity of Belsky’s claim.

On May 28 I reported:

I have confirmed through a source that the tape does indeed exist and that there’s a specific reason why ESPN doesn’t want to release the contents to the media.

I was told earlier today that while telling the story, Bowe mentioned names and details that ESPN felt shouldn’t be released to the public. The move was explained to me as protecting those named in the story and Bowe himself.

Based on Bowe’s subsequent, multiple contradictory statements in the past 48 hours in denying responsibility for the story, he’s eliminated any chance of anyone believing him about anything.

For that reason, ESPN made the right call in withholding the contents of the tape to the public.

That brings us to today.

Bowe appeared on the Brandon and Woolvey Show on 790 the Fan in Atlanta today and - via Sportsradiointerviews.com - once again completely denied he told the “importing” groupies story to ESPN The Magazine reporter Matz:

“No, because now they are finding out that it definitely wasn’t me. Definitely, but I took that like a man. People that really know the Dwayne Bowe that clowns but on a serious note won’t let anything out of the locker room that is not supposed to be out.”

Now back to my May 28 report on why ESPN was holding back from releasing the tape to the public:

I was told earlier today that while telling the story, Bowe mentioned names and details that ESPN felt shouldn’t be released to the public. The move was explained to me as protecting those named in the story and Bowe himself.

ESPN The Magazine’s Editor in Chief Belsky has since released a statement on Bowe’s new denial today:

“As we have said, we will happily allow Mr. Bowe the chance to listen to our recording of his interview, in the event he forgot that he made these comments. He has not asked to do so.

Despite his persistence in denying having made these comments–unfairly damaging the reputation of one of our best writers–we have consistently avoided releasing the audio from his interview to spare him and others further embarrassment, specifically because the on the recording he offers more lurid details than we published and because he named several teammates as having participated in the off-hours activity in question.

We do not know why Mr. Bowe persists in denying having made the comments, but out of respect for him, his teammates and the Chiefs we will maintain our position, which we think is the honorable choice. We believe The Magazines’ reputation for honesty and integrity speaks for itself.”

I originally agreed with ESPN’s decision not to release the tape - and Belsky’s statement is well-intentioned - but it makes you wonder why ESPN would go on the record in claiming to protect certain Chiefs players but not Bowe.

If Bowe’s statement was on the record and in the context of a magazine interview, why not report everything he said? By printing any of the story, ESPN injured Bowe’s reputation, so what’s holding ESPN back from releasing other names?

With Bowe’s subsequent, disastrous dealings with the media about the story, I can understand why ESPN would be concerned that perhaps Bowe threw some details and names into the story that might not be true. But if Bowe has no credibility, then why confirm Bowe’s additional claims in a statement today?

We’re now past the point of no return.

If ESPN doesn’t want Bowe to continue to throw writer Matz under the bus, it should release the tape. An on the record statement to the media claiming to “spare” other players of embarrassment will be viewed by many as disingenuous.

Most importantly, if ESPN has what it says it has, Bowe deserves to be shamed for his lying denials.