Breaking Down Burress: Can NFL Fans Buy Plaxico's Super Bowl Sincerity?

Lou DiPietroAnalyst IFebruary 7, 2010

LEBANON - JANUARY 14: New York Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress winks at a supporter as he arrives at the Lebanon County Courthouse January 14, 2009 in Lebanon, Pa.  Burress is scheduled to appear in a civil trial in a dispute with an automobile dealer over what he owes in damages to a vehicle supplied to him by the dealership. (Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)
Chris Gardner/Getty Images

During CBS’ Super Bowl pre-game coverage, Bill Cowher interviewed incarcerated wide receiver Plaxico Burress.  In the interview, Burress again reiterated how he hopes to return to the NFL someday, and he appeared to be very remorseful in his tone.

But can Burress really be trusted?

I don’t think so for three reasons, and I also think this is a poor spin job for a network that usually prides itself on journalistic integrity.

The first bug-a-boo I have is that, yes, Burress “sounded sincere.”

HE’S IN JAIL. Of course he’s going to say all the right things! He wants to get out of there and get on with his life as fast as possible, and with the stigma of being an ex-convict already on his rap sheet, there’s no way in hell he’s going to be anything but “humble,” “sincere,” or any other buzzword.

Counter that to Michael Vick, who had a similar interview with James Brown last fall. The difference? Vick had already done his time, so he may actually have learned something by then.

The second issue is with Burress’ words.

Burress said that his actions on the fateful night that led to his incarceration were the result of a “selfish decision.” But wasn’t that the same man who said something to the effect of “I’m a celebrity, I have to protect myself” when news of the incident initially broke?

It is. And everyone—most likely including Burress—knows that the only one who believes either of those statements it Plaxico himself.

He also talked about how he misses his children, even likening the morning of the last time he saw them as being like the morning of a Super Bowl.

That’s very understandable, and will generate sympathy…but shouldn’t he have thought about that before he did something as stupid as carry a loaded, unlicensed, concealed weapon across state lines? Once you have someone else to worry about besides yourself, there’s no room for “selfish” decisions like that.

The final issue I have is in the way the interview was presented.

If there was anyone on CBS’ staff that shouldn’t have done that interview, it’s Bill Cowher. Sure, Cowher and Burress clashed quite often when both were Steelers, but what coach and player don’t? If any interviewer could bring out the most sympathetic side of a sticky situation, it’s one who has a deep, distinct, involved relationship with the subject.

Good, bad, or indifferent, Cowher has that with Burress. So instead of “hard-hitting” journalism, it was a character-building fluff piece masquerading as news. Bad show, especially for a network that hours earlier scored a huge coup by having an exclusive Sunday interview with President Obama.

There is one thing I can believe that Burress said however, that being how he plans to return to the NFL.

Problem there, though, is that those intentions may be out of his hands.

Burress won’t be released until at least spring of 2011. But with the threat of an NFL lockout on the horizon, will there even be a 2011 season? If not, Burress will be 35 years old before the 2012 campaign starts—not the ideal age for a wide receiver, even one with his skill set.

And even if he does return, it won’t be at the level he was at before his prison sentence.

Again, look at Michael Vick. While he wasn’t the “best” quarterback before his jail time, he was good.

And yet, after nearly three years away, he was relegated to a backup role in Philadelphia while he got his sea legs back.

Thing is, Vick was only in his late 20s. At 35, Burress might not have the time to get his sea legs back.

Maybe he should have thought about that before he made a “selfish decision.”