Thursday, August 20, 2009

Giant Fall

Plaxico Burress probably should have established residency in Arizona, where he could have registered his handgun - or an automatic weapon, even - and then brandished it at a large public event. Maybe even at a health care town hall hosted by the president of the United States.

That would have been perfectly legal. And Second Amendment enthusiasts would have applauded him for his commitment to freedom, democracy and terrifying libruls.

But unfortunately, Plaxico works and plays in New York - home to some of the nation's toughest gun laws - and made what is probably a career-ending gaffe. He shot himself in the thigh AND foot, so to speak.

Today, the former Giants star accepted a plea bargain that will send him to jail for two years. He pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of criminal possession of a weapon, avoiding a potential 15-year sentence on weapons possession and reckless endangerment charges.

And he was much closer to spending 15 years behind bars than he ever was to going free. From the very beginning Mayor Mike Bloombergand Manhattan D.A. Robert Morgenthau said they would seek the maximum sentence for Burress.

Some, including a Fordham law professor, wondered if Burress was getting a harder time than your average gun possession suspect. Given the zeal with which Morgenthau prosecuted the case, I don't think there's any question about that.

“When you have the mayor and the district attorney both publicly demanding a maximum prison sentence, it was perhaps too much to hope for the grand jury to conduct a sympathetic review of the unique facts of this sad case,” Burress’s lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, said after Burress's indictment a few weeks ago.

But justice is blind, right?

Anyway, even though he will spend the next couple years in prison, I want to use this space briefly to remember Burress for the uncommon talent that he was. At 6-foot-5 and about 225 pounds, Burress had the size, strength, jumping ability, hands and smarts to someday merit consideration for the Hall of Fame. For whatever reason, it never quite worked out that way.

And sadly enough, it never will. But we'll always have this:

Post-script: As I recently mentioned to G.D., I've been mulling over a top 5 or top 10 list of the biggest wastes of athletic talent in my lifetime. Plax is definitely near the top.

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