Does the NFL now stand for the "National Felony League"? Because it sure seems that the inmates are running the asylum. The latest being New York Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress, who may now be facing the end of his time with the Giants.
You probably all know this, but just to set the stage, Burress, whose team had a game against the Redskins on Sunday afternoon, was out at a New York nightclub called the Latin Quarter in the early hours Friday. Reportedly, he was drinking and had a loaded gun in his pocket. The gun accidentally went off, shooting Burress in his thigh.
Police, with the cooperation of the NFL, are looking into a potential cover-up, as the hospital apparently didn't report the incident. Burress was said to have used a phony name. Teammate Antonio Piece's involvement is also under investigation.
This is not the first time that Burress has shot himself in the foot (or thigh). He has been penalized by the Giants on more than 35 occasions in his career in New York, with penalties exceeding $300,000 for mere tardiness alone.
Now the Giants may be poised to just rid themselves of the problem altogether by releasing the beleaguered receiver.
While some say the Giants should be understanding that Burress hasn't been the same since his mom passed away, others ask how much the team should be expected to put up with.
According to Stephen A. Smith, after catching 70 passes for 1,025 yards with 12 touch-downs last season in helping New York to a Super Bowl title, Burress has been a shell of himself this season. His numbers (35 catches, 454 yards, 4 touch-downs) are down.
Worse, his downward spiral came after he signed a five-year, $35 million deal hours before the season opener—weeks after haggling over his contract because he felt the Giants should have offered more guaranteed dollars.
In return, Plaxico has been a royal pain-in-the-ass to the organization, his teammates and to the fans.
Look, Burress isn't the only athlete to be in the news for all the wrong reasons. Yet, as New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg pointed out, he shouldn't be given any special treatment just because he's a star athlete.
"I don't think anybody should be exempt," Bloomberg said as he called for enforcement of the state law that requires mandatory prison for carrying a loaded handgun. "And I think it would be an outrage if we didn't prosecute to the fullest extent of the law. Particularly people who live in the public domain, making their living because of their visibility—they're the role models for our kids."
According to Smith, those who know Burress describe him as "kind, sensitive and giving."
But how can anyone know? The media doesn't publish stories about goodwill as vigorously as they do stories of football players with illegal handguns and players know this and need to be particularly careful.
I think this may be the last hurrah for Burress as a Giant. Head Coach Tom Coughlin has been known for exercising discipline. While it almost got him fired, it helped the team win a Super Bowl last season.
Players crave structure.
They need discipline.
Sometimes they act like children.
And like children, they need to understand that there are consequences for their actions. I have no doubt that Burress will find another chance with a different team if the Giants dump him, providing that the league doesn't suspend him, though that is likely. However, he probably lost the privilege of being a Giant, and he took yet another shot to his reputation.
Those are consequences, come to think of it.
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