Usually in a situation like this, I would write something about five pages in length explaining how this entire situation is insane. I had just gotten to page three, and hit the delete button on the whole thing. I came up with a much more simple way to explain the Plaxico Burress coverage.
The news and sports media will say anything and everything they can to create a story, even if it compromises their own integrity and makes them look like hypocrites.
And the sad thing is, it didn’t even begin with the Burress incident. It began nearly a week ago. As the sports world was nearing the one year anniversary of Sean Taylor’s death, ESPN the Magazine published a fascinating cover story about the lifestyles of professional football players. The title was quite intriguing: “A year after Sean Taylor’s murder, NFL players are still running scared.”
In the article, a handful of NFL players (all with clean slates may I add) explained that they owned guns. And with the rapid increase of attacks, shootings, and murders of NFL players, the guns made them feel safe.
The success of the ESPN article lead to nearly every other sports affiliate broadcasting or writing about a similar story. It was Coke versus Pepsi-like altercation. And then out of sheer coincidence, an NFL player shot himself in the leg in a New York nightclub within two days of the anniversary of the Sean Taylor incident.
I am judging simply by Plaxico Burress’s track record. He has never been convicted of anything and he has never caused any sort of a ruckus. And according to the only witness report that has been released so far, the only reason the gun was exposed was because Burress was cooperating with nightclub security and preparing to give them the weapon, when it discharged and shot him.
So I feel that I (an unpaid aspiring journalist) should ask the question that a journalist is supposed to ask: Why? Why did Burress have that gun? And if you are judging by the track record here, there is only one answer: Burress is afraid to go out without protection.
And somehow, literally less than a week after the media revealed the shockingly depressing state of mind of an NFL athlete; Plaxico was almost universally labeled as a distraction, a punk, another NFL criminal, or an idiot.
Even local news stations got in on the act. Steve Bartelstein of CBS news literally giggled through the Burress report this morning, and then did the toss by insinuating that Burress better have a good lawyer. The field reporter then responded, “You crack me up Steve.”
I’m glad the media thinks this is hilarious; because one week ago, the safety of NFL players was getting all the headlines.
In fact, only one person in the media said anything even remotely reasonable, and he has less to do with the news than anyone. His name is Tony Siragusa, and there is a microphone on him at all times because he is usually hilarious.
During the Giants’ victory over the Redskins, Siragusa addressed the younger demographic by saying that if you’re serious about being a football player, and you go to a place where you feel the need to bring a gun, you shouldn’t go there.
And while Siragusa makes an incredibly valid point, there is one thing that should be noted. These incidents don’t always happen outside of nightclubs. They can happen anywhere. If there is a recognizable face that doesn’t have George Clooney money, you can follow him or her anywhere.
If we are judging by the death of Sean Taylor or the Dunta Robinson robbery, you aren’t even safe at home.
So put yourself in this position. Football was more than likely your only escape from a poverty stricken life and the only advice you are getting is “Don’t go out to suspect places.” But you are also hearing that you may not even be safe at home. What do you do?
With all of that said, Burress had the gun and committed a crime and it is an absolute shame. But this is not about the crime. This is about the coverage and vilifying of a man who is less than a year removed from being a New York hero. And I hope with all my heart that the way this situation was handled by the media goes down as one of the biggest botches in sports broadcasting history.