When it was reported that Plaxico Burress was shot, waves of shock lingered in my body throughout the course of that brisk late-November Saturday. Then details emerged that he was the one most responsible for his own fate, accidentally firing a pistol that he was carrying in his sweats.
Then the Giants convincingly beat the Washington Redskins in miserable weather. For the second-straight game Eli Manning played extremely well, and Domenik Hixon was emerging into a reliable target for Manning. The next day talk began to fire up that the weapon Burress was carrying was unlicensed, a recurring problem in urban areas, especially New York City.
Plaxico was now facing major charges. If convicted, he could face up to fifteen years in jail. Mayor Bloomberg puffed out his chest in the midst of this controversy, demanding that Burress be prosecuted, as any other citizen would be.
"I don't think that anybody should be exempt from that," Bloomberg said. "It would be an outrage if we don't prosecute to the fullest extent of the law."
At the time, I agreed with the Mayor. Although Plax was the most inspiring character on a 2007 Giants squad, which managed to defy all the odds, Burress dug his own grave and should be sent to prison for an extended period of time. The Giants looked fine without him, so he wouldn’t be that big a loss.
But after watching my Giants, the same team that stormed to an 11-1 start, flounder in December and fail to score a touchdown with the first unit in four of the last five games, my mindset regarding Burress suddenly shifted to, “Well, it’s not as if he hurt anyone, right?”c
It’s hypocritical. And it’s unethical. But it’s a result of the spell that pro sports cast upon me, and millions of other fans.
In reality, Burress should be put away. Excusing him for his actions would continue the standard that celebrities are excluded from punishment to the fullest extent of the law.
Additionally, it appears to be blatantly obvious he was guilty of a felony on the evening of Nov. 29. If he gets off with no charges, then his trial will be referenced in thousands of other similar trials, thus permitting felons to continue to roam the streets with illegal weapons.
But it’s tough to see it that way, when I see a Giants squad that is capable of putting together one of the best runs the franchise has ever seen, and its success is pending on the decisions of the court.
Osi Umenyiora’s “inside source,” who is involved with the law, states that Burress will most likely receive no jail time, as he is a first time offender, and will likely get probation up to five years. A victory for Burress, his family, the 52 other players on the Giants roster, and the fans.
But is it really a victory?