Plaxico Burress faces a dilemma after reportedly suffering a serious injury at the Pittsburgh Steelers' training camp on Thursday. Does he accept that time has caught up with him and call it a career or does he attempt to continue his career with the franchise that drafted him back in 2000?
The wise move would be for him to hang up the cleats for good.
NFL.com's Dan Hanzus reports that the four-time 1,000-yard receiver fell on his shoulder after coming up short on a pass he was trying to catch over defensive backs Damon Cromartie-Smith and Ryan Steed.
Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that the injury has been diagnosed as a torn rotator cuff and could cost Burress the 2013 season.
Steelers WR Plaxico Burress has a torn rotator cuff, what could be a season-ending injury.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 9, 2013
The threat of losing a season is bad news for players of any age. But for a player like Burress, it becomes a career-threatening injury. The 6'5", 232-pound receiver is 35 years old and entering his 12th NFL season.
As Mike Garafolo of Fox Sports 1 tweeted, Burress was already contemplating retirement after this season:
Talked to Burress in the spring. He thought this season would be his last, no matter what. We'll see if he tries to not go out this way.— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) August 9, 2013
Deciding to retire is rarely easy for professional athletes. For years these players have been programmed to compete to the best of their ability and push themselves to the limits. As Garfolo points out, it was Burress' interest in what he could accomplish with a full offseason to prepare that motivated him to re-sign with the Steelers:
Burress wasn't guaranteed to make an impact this season but was very eager to see what his first full offseason since '08 would do for him.— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) August 9, 2013
As disappointing as losing that opportunity is, there comes a point when a player has to step back and weigh the pros and cons of resuming their career. With Burress' incredible size for his position, there's a chance he could play a few more seasons in the NFL as a red-zone target.
What should Plaxico Burress do?
He found the end zone eight times as a 34-year-old with the New York Jets and even scored a touchdown for the Steelers last season in just three games.
However, carving a niche with an NFL team shouldn't take precedence over his long-term health, especially when he's only making the veteran's minimum. As player safety becomes a bigger and bigger issue in the game, we have seen countless players who have ravaged their bodies playing the sport.
Burress has already accomplished just about everything he could as a player. He posted multiple 1,000-yard receiving seasons, multiple seasons with seven or more touchdowns and was a pivotal member of the 2007 New York Giants team that won Super Bowl XLII.
There's really not much that Burress could do to enhance the legacy he's already created on the field.
The decision to retire may be difficult, but sometimes an athlete's body makes the decision for him. Let's hope that Burress is willing to listen.