The news of star wide receiver Plaxico Burress' self inflicted gunshot wound and the ensuing legal and paparazzi attention is another look into the life of a young man who believed bad things could happen to him and they did. Unfortunately he made it into a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Burress, a Super Bowl hero with the New York Giants of the National Football League went out to the Latin Quarter on Friday evening with a teammate. Because well paid and high profile athletes seem to attract trouble that includes attacks on their person and home Burress was carrying a gun. It was licensed in Florida but that had expired and unfortunately he was in New York City. New York requires its own licensing process no matter how many other states recognize one's right to carry a firearm. Burress hadn't obtained one.
While out at the club Burress shot himself in the thigh accidentally. His wounds aren't serious and not another person was hurt which in and of itself is a miracle. But what happened next and how he came to carry a gun into a nightclub should be a topic for discussion.
Burress' teammate Steve Smith was recently held up outside his home. A player for the Jacksonville Jaguars of the NFL was shot a few months ago while seated in his vehicle and is paralyzed for life. A star with the Denver Broncos lost his life almost two years ago outside a club after a disagreement inside. He died in a limousine from gunshot wounds.
On the heels of all that Burress went out and was carrying his gun. A fair number of current and former NFL players admit to doing the same as a result of the increasing number of attacks on them. That was the bad stuff he was fearful of. The trouble he now finds himself in wasn't even on his radar. Like a child who never had fallen while doing something dangerous and ignored his parents' advice to be careful Burress didn't listen to the NFL advisors who teach their players how to stay out of trouble. And carrying a gun in a club begs for trouble. But Burress thought he was solving the problem of potential trouble instead of courting it.
After his gun was discharged he and his teammate Antonio Pierce, according to press reports, tried to hide the gun and went from hospital to hospital in Manhattan to attempt to find one that would treat his leg without reporting it to the police. Eventually Burress' wife joined them, she was given the gun by Pierce and her husband was cared for at Cornell Medical Center.
He wasn't available for the police who went to his home to speak to him about the incident and finally hired criminal attorney Benjamin Brafman, he of Michael Jackson and Sean "Diddy" Combs fame. Brafman notified the police that he was in communication with Burress, had been hired to represent him and told them he'd be turning himself in for questioning on Monday. The police told Brafman his client could expect to be charged with at minimum, criminal possession of a unlicensed firearm. He is also flirting with another felony charge of illegally discharging a firearm.
Burress arrived at the police station in New York at 8 in the morning on Monday and within hours was handcuffed and taken into custody to be booked in a downtown jail on felony charges. The look on his face as he was put into a police cruiser was remarkably different from the one he had as he got out of his Cadillac Escalade in the early morning. I think that handcuffs will do that to a person. He had been introduced to criminal justice and the rules that govern human behavior no matter if you are a star or a worker bee. The police are also mulling over the facts that relate to Antonio Pierce and the medical center who might have committed crimes in the attempted cover-up if in fact there was one.
The NFL has strict rules about personal conduct when it crosses the line of criminality and involves weapons. Burress faces severe discipline and a potential suspension from his team for the rest of the football season. If Pierce is implicated in an obstruction of justice charge he can bank on punishment as well. The league spends a fair amount of time educating its players about the trouble that comes with their status of rich and famous athletes. But players would have to believe that the bad stuff the league tells them could actually happen.
So let's recap: a man who is afraid of being attacked breaks the law by bringing an unlicensed gun into a nightclub and it discharges resulting in the possibility of two felony charges. He may or may not have tried to cover up the incident by involving a teammate and a major hospital in New York. Those actions could bring more charges. And now he may lose the ability to practice his profession and make a living to support his family. His attorney will be heavily involved with the district attorney's office in New York as well as dealing with the NFL and the press who are feasting on this story. Burress is so high profile in New York that Mayor Bloomberg was moved to discuss the gun laws that he violated. It is more than likely he'll not be playing football for a while and probably never again with the New York Giants.
Not much to absorb all at once right? A sorry state of affairs when an adult acts like a child and ignores all the warnings about night time activity and weapons.