When I first started researching this issue this article was going to be simply, "Where will Plaxico Burress play after getting out of jail?" After studying up on some of the details and digging into the background a little more, the story took on a life of its own going in a completely different direction. Let me indulge you as I take you into a little of the background of Plaxico Burress and yes, Michael Vick, as it seems they'll be forever mentioned together. If you bear with me, I'll still get to the potential suitors for Mr. Burress.
As I started to look into this issue, when I realized that Plaxico Burress was from was from Norfolk, VA, things started to add up and make sense to me. When I was younger, and traveling, I came up on this area in Virginia, known as Hampton Roads. I was selling for a company at the time and I was working in the Hampton Roads region of Virginia. Hampton roads consist of Norfolk, Newport News, Chesapeake, Suffolk, Portsmouth, as well as others. After working a full day, I got back to the hotel and asked the front desk clerk for directions to an area in downtown Norfolk. Both the desk clerk and her co-worker looked at me as if I was the craziest man they have ever seen. She told me that a businessman doesn't want to go anywhere close to downtown Norfolk this late at night. Her co-worker quickly chimed in, surprisingly with pride, "don't you know that we're #1 in violent crime in the country?" The way they looked at each other as they said it, with smiles and so excited, you would have thought they were talking about their favorite college being ranked top in the polls.
After finding out that Burress was from the Hampton roads region and then knowing that Vick was from the same region, Newport News to be exact, it made me think back to that conversation. It had me also reminiscing about what my parents told me growing up, "negative in, negative out, positive in, positive out." What they meant was simple, if I put violent images around me and all of the things that come with that lifestyle, then that becomes my acceptable lifestyle. If I'm around that and see it every day, then it becomes as common as eating cereal are reading the paper.
A child's mind is like clay for parents and parental guidance combined with role models and peers one chooses molds boys into the men they become. Vick and Burress were able to get out of this rough environment and were able to obtain highly successful NFL playing careers, but eventually the past caught up with them. I'm sure Michael Vick saw dog fights when he was younger, Plaxico Burress must have known that you had to carry a gun for protection if nothing else. Growing up with violence around like this, both of these men must have become numb to it all because after while it becomes was either survive or have a nice suit picked out for the funeral. It's easy to sit inside a suburban home or gated community and say, "well, they got out of that and are now millionaires". Without going through it, you don't realize that it's embedded in your brain as going to Starbucks for the 9 to 5ers.
Maybe if you see the numbers, you might realize how bad the situation is in that region. These figures are as of 2010. 91% of the rest of the American cities are safer than Norfolk, VA when it comes to violent crimes. As far as crimes per square miles, the National Median is 49.6. The state of Virginia is a good bit lower than that at only 20. Congrats VA, but the number makes a tremendous up turn when it gets to Norfolk at 222. No, that's not a typo, it really is 222 crimes per square mile. That's almost 4 and half times the national median and over 11 times the state of Virginia.
I'm not making excuses for these guys, I'm just laying out the root of where the problem comes from. We are always so quick to judge and label people as stupid and say “what were they thinking?” With those types of stats however, I wonder how you or I would have fared as adults with numbers stacked against us that way.
With all that being said, there comes a point where enough is enough and these men have to realize that they have to conform to rules of the rest of society, not just the ones in the town they grew up in and that their actions come with a penalty. Plaxico Burress had several wake up calls apparently, but never answered the phone.
- 2008, August - Police were called to the Burress residence for domestic disturbance. A temporary restraining order was issued but dismissed later.
- 2008, September - Again, Police were called to the Burress residence for domestic disturbance. A temporary restraining order was issued but dismissed later.
- 2009, January - Burress had civil charges filed against him. The Plaintiff, a car dealership, stated that Burress was given a leased Chevy Avalanche in exchange for him making guest appearances at the dealership. It's claimed that Burress never made the appearances or paid for the vehicle. The car was finally returned after it was impounded by the New York Police Department.
- Burress also had a pending case from a woman in Florida stating that Burress crashed his car into hers and he didn't have insurance on the expensive vehicle. He let the insurance lapse, 3 days before the accident.
- The AP states that in all, Burress has been sued 9 times since coming into the league.
Now, that brings us to the big event. On November 28, 2008, Plaxico Burress went to the LQ night club in New York City. Burress had his 9 mm placed inside his waistband of some sweatpants. Because the gun was inside his sweating pants, it started to slide down his leg. Burress panicked as if there was a loaded gun sliding down his inner thigh. In what could only be described as the scene from 8 mile where Cheddar Bob shoots himself in the leg, Burress grabs the gun but his fingers hit the trigger and the gun goes off, hitting him in the right thigh. Where's Shyne when you need him? (For those of you that don't get that. P Diddy had an up and coming artist that he had take the blame for him in a New York club when he was questioned about a shooting. Diddy got off, Shyne got 10 years.)
Okay, time to play both sides of the argument. I understand that the some of the things he was around when he was younger and the fact that he was a target as a professional athlete, might have made him want to carry a gun. But why wouldn't he get a New York gun license? In the car accident, how could he afford a $150,000 car but not pay his car insurance? And my biggest problem with the whole gun situation, why was there already a bullet in the chamber? When did he decide to actually have it ready to shoot? Why wasn't the safety on? And finally, the most important one, why the heck would he tuck a loaded gun into his freakin'sweatpants? They must have taught him better than that in the crime capital of VA. Did he miss class the day they went over "What to Wear when Carrying your Illegal Firearm?" I would have settled for anything with a belt loop.
Side note: Maybe I'm getting old... Who wears sweatpants to a dance club? Was Richard Simmons performing?
Before we get into what teams might want to take a chance on him, let's talk about the on the field issues Burress has had. He had been successful in college witth the Michigan State Spartans and at both pro stops with the Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Giants, but he was also disciplined by both NFL teams for not showing for Monday meetings. When you take that into account with the court cases, jail time, and the fact that he hasn't played in a NFL game since he faced the Arizona Cardinals on November 23, 2008, what type of value would he have?
Burress is supposed to be released on June 6, 2011. As luck would have it, he may not be able to catch a break though because after spending almost 2 years in prison, he might come out to a society with no NFL season in 2011 and then as I understand it, the world is suppose to end sometime in 2012, and bingo just like that, there goes his opportunity to play again. You really can't get any worse look than that, the way the cards are stacked, it’s not even worth it for him to play the lottery.
Burress’ agent, Drew Rosenhaus, states that he's in great shape and works out 5 times a week. But is he in football shape? Has he been catching balls (no pun intended)? Even if Plaxico is ready to go, he'll be 34 on opening day, if there is a season in 2011. Teams can usually go out and get a receiver in the draft and with Burress not getting released until 2 months after the 2011 NFL draft, it's going to hurt his chances even more. Burress won't get many offers and the money will be closer to the veteran minimum, than what he was making pre-Cheddar Bob. There still will be a few teams that will show interest however:
- New York Giants - They're familiar with Burress and the organization could attempt to live past glory days, like when they won the Super Bowl on a game winning touchdown to Burress. Eli still wants that big target he lost when Burress took this vacation. They have enough young receivers to pick up the slack if Plax doesn't pan out.
- New York Jets - Rex Ryan doesn’t care about what anyone thinks of his decisions. If he believes Burress has something left in the tank, he'll try him out and could go this route instead of bring back both Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards. And hey, and If they bring back Antonio Cromartie, the zoo in NJ will get that much more interesting. How could you not love that?
- Oakland Raiders - Al Davis drafted Darius Heyward-Bey over Michael Crabtree. He needs a big, redzone threat receiver to go opposite of Jacoby Ford, for whoever the next QB is.
- Chicago Bears - Jay Cutler wants Brandon Marshall back so bad. It's not going to happen, but if they don't find a huge target for Cutler in the draft, they may attempt to take a flyer on the soon to be 34 year old. Martz likes speed, so this wouldn't be his first choice.
- Washington Redskins - Mike Shanahan has so many holes on both sides of the ball that he might not be able to get to his receiver problems. If he uses all of his draft picks on fixing the defense and getting the new QB, then Burress might be the quick fix he's looking for, for a year or two.
- New England Patriots -Bill Belichick revived Randy Moss' career and as I understand it, I believe it's illegal to criticize anything that Belichek does, so, this would be a great move for the Patriots because they have a knack of prolonging aging receivers careers.
We'll see how the draft plays out, and then we'll wait until June 6th to see what type of shape Burress is in. Honestly, I'm pulling for him. He's served his time and 2 years is an awfully long time in my opinion for putting a hole in your own leg. I understand people say that he put other lives in jeopardy. Well, if he would have injured them, then I think he should have served a lot more time but he didn't, so I repeat, 2 years is a long time for Cheddar Bobbing....
Jayson Braddock appears on Sports Radio 790 AM in Houston, TX, every Thursday morning at 11:19 am CST as the football insider on the Dylan Gwinn show. He's a graduate of the Sports Management World Wide Football GM & Scouting Course and has been mentored by former NFL player / executive John Wooten and Sporting News.com NFL Draft Expert Russ Lande. His work is mostly appreciated by die-hard fans interested in every little detail about their team and not just watered down mainstream talk. - Listeners NOT in the Houston metropolitan area can hear Jayson on iheart radio or sports7910.com. You may email Jayson directly @ [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @ JaysonBraddock
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