Former New York Giants wideout Plaxico Burress pled guilty this morning to attempted criminal possession of a weapon, stemming from an incident in November 2008 when Burress shot himself in the thigh at a Manhattan nightclub. The New York Times reports that Burress will serve two years in jail. With good behavior, he will be eligible for release after 20 months.
That’s two months longer than the entirety of Michael Vick’s prison term for dogfighting.
Burress will be 34 years old when he’s released from jail, and that has prompted many people to already declare that his career in the NFL is over. From Peter King’s Twitter feed:
SI_PeterKing He'll be 34 years old when-if he's not penalized further by NFL, a big if-he's out in 2011. I agree with @BobGlauber: Career over.
And, judging by Vick’s current suspension, the league almost certainly will punish Burress further should he attempt to play again after serving his jail term. That leaves him out of the league until mid-2011.
Keep in mind that this is Burress’ first criminal offense and his first arrest. Police were called to his home two years ago for a reported domestic disturbance, but no charges were filed in that dispute. Many, including King, have speculated that the reason Burress is receiving such a stiff penalty for his transgression was due to his attempted cover-up of the shooting immediately after it happened. The outrage over initial reports of the incident prompted New York mayor Michael Bloomberg to personally all but demand Burress' head at the time, saying anything but a long jail sentence would be a "sham". From the New York Post:
"It's pretty hard to argue the guy didn't have a gun and that it wasn't loaded," said Bloomberg, lashing out at the Super Bowl receiver. "You've got bullet holes in and out to show that it was there."
Bloomberg, who has been leading a national crusade against illegal guns, noted that under New York law if you are convicted of carrying a loaded illegal handgun "you go automatically to three-and-a-half years in the slammer."
"And I don't think that anybody should be exempt from that," he added. "And I think it would be an outrage if we don't prosecute to the fullest extent of the law."
The center of the Dallas Cowboys universe.
You don't have to be a gun nut to think it's a touch severe that Burress, a first-time offender, will end up serving two years in prison because he shot himself and then was too dumb and likely scared to immediately cop to it. It's easy to understand Bloomberg's need to make an example out of people, and discourage criminal negligence with assorted weaponry. But really, two years? A career ruined? All for that?
Just two years ago, it was Burress who hauled in the winning touchdown for the Giants in Super Bowl XLII against the then 18-0 Patriots. It was a stunning, astonishing moment, one that is now only exceeded by the swiftness and severity of Burress’ downfall.