By Jason Keidel
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Please indulge an ignorant sportswriter for a moment while he leaves his element, the reservation, and wades the toxic waters of anthropology…
Leonard Little, a linebacker for the St. Louis Rams, killed a woman with his car while his blood bubbled with an alcohol content of 0.19, double the legal limit. He spent 90 days in jail.
Donte’ Stallworth, a wide receiver for the Cleveland Browns, drove while under the influence and killed a construction worker .He spent 30 days in jail.
Two dead people, 4 months. An injured groin, 20 months.
Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s jihad against Burress ended in a conviction that serves only as a swath of self-gratification for a billionaire-turned-bureaucrat who dispenses morality from a mansion. Now he can focus on arresting smokers in Central Park, another crime wave of medieval brutality.
This isn’t an argument for a Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative. I merely try to italicize the hypocrisy of sports and society, how the privilege of stardom, normally a shield from the justice and jurisprudence worked in the reverse for Burress. His fame, in this case, was his crucifix. Burress wasn’t convicted for a criminal deed as much as for violating the senses of the anointed. Burress was simply at the wrong end of the mayor’s ideological sword.
Around the time of the incident, a former federal prosecutor called Mike Francesa’s show and said this was the worst travesty of justice he had ever seen, declaring that the average citizen with no prior felonies (Burress had none) would do six months in jail and 5 years of probation. He spent 15 minutes lamenting the duplicity forced upon Burress – and he’s a prosecutor!
To be fair, this case ripples with clashing victories. Burress, who has a legendary disdain for rules, was a nuisance for the Steelers and Giants, but he was allowed to play because of his singular gift for catching footballs that cornerbacks can’t. So, in a sense, it’s fitting that he finally learns that someday the wrong rule would apply to him.
Theories about potential teams for Burress will swarm the Web. His agent, the gaseous Drew Rosenhaus, says a conga line of legitimate offers await Burress once he officially becomes a free man today. Since there’s no league at the moment, we take Drew’s words with a half-grain of salt.
You’re used to my columns by now, where I wield words against the moronic ways of the wayward jock, the pampered, entitled athlete who sees team rules and town laws as more pliable than his blessed limbs.
Not in this case. I’m rooting for Plaxico Burress. Not because my beloved Steelers drafted him. Not because he helped your Giants beat the despised Patriots – the least likeable team (after the Red Sox) on Earth.
I’m rooting for him because Burress publicly and privately paid for a crime with no victim. If being an idiot were illegal, he should face the gas chamber. But common sense (or lack thereof) isn’t legislated unless it harms others. Did Burress deserve a suspension? Clearly. Did the Giants have the right to fire him, shred his contract? It would seem so. Did he deserve hard prison time and no chance to change teams, towns, and terms? It is entirely subjective, but you know my take.
I feel your fingers pounding the keyboard, ready to drown me in mitigating circumstances regarding the aforementioned cases of vehicular manslaughter and such. I’m not here to try those cases, nor am I telling you that those men deserved decades in a penitentiary. I merely wonder why they skated while Burress was fated and fitted for an orange jumpsuit, while his prime floated off like all those purple sunsets he missed while he stewed in his cell. Don’t you?
Plaxico Burress is a fool. It’s understandable that an employer doesn’t want him as an employee. It’s unacceptable that he hangs at the leisure of elitists.
Feel free to email me: Jakster1@mac.com
Did Plax’s punishment fit the crime? Fire away in the comments below…