NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) — “It was dark,” Plaxico Burress recalled to interviewer Bryant Gumbel. “And I kind of, you know, missed a step. That’s when I felt my gun start to slide. I went to grab it to stop it from falling. Pow!”
The embattled wide receiver, now with the Jets, recounted that night in November 2008 when he accidentally shot himself — and the 20 months he served in prison — in an interview for Tuesday’s edition of “Real Sports” on HBO.
It was the first time he has fully detailed the events of the past few years.
He didn’t realize he had shot himself in the right thigh — until he looked down.
“I took a couple more steps and my jeans were like, my jeans are wet. And I looked down. I had some Chuck Taylors on and they were, the white was all red,” Burress said, showing a small scar on his leg. “I said, ‘Oh, I’m in trouble.’”
But he didn’t realize how much. His wife, Tiffany, is an attorney who told her husband that he was going to end up serving jail time because he was going to be made an example of. Burress vehemently disagreed with her because “I own the gun, it’s mine, I bought it. How much trouble can I really be in?”
The interview included Burress’ attorney, Benjamin Brafman, and his new coach, Rex Ryan. Burress, who turned 34 on Friday, signed a one-year, $3 million deal with the Jets — the start of an NFL comeback that seemed unlikely a few years ago.
Brafman said a bail agreement was worked out for Burress to be released on his own recognizance or $10,000 bail. But New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg called for Burress to be prosecuted to the fullest extent in a press conference. Twenty minutes later, Brafman said, the prosecutor asked for $250,000 bail.
Brafman told Burress there was a problem and relayed Bloomberg’s comments.
“You know what I said after that?” Burress said. “I said, ‘Who’s Mayor Bloomberg?’”
“Come on,” exclaimed Gumbel.
“Dead serious,” Burress replied.
The wide receiver later asked the grand jury for compassion, but was indicted because, “My name is Plaxico Burress and my career and my life hasn’t always been squeaky clean.”
“I’m saying to myself, ‘I’m going to talk to some regular people that live in these streets up in New York City,’” said Burress. “And they’re going to sit there and listen to me and say, ‘The guy was just not smart. Made a bad decision. The guy shot himself. Nobody else was harmed, you know. He’ll just learn a lesson from that in itself.’”
He went on: “I was wrong again. Half of those people had no idea who I was. Half of those people. They just saw a African-American over there sitting around, making a lot of money, carrying a gun into a club and shot himself.”
Burress was sent to Oneida Correctional Facility in upstate New York, where he “lost count” of how many times he cried while in prison. He worked various jobs such as mopping stairwells and serving meals while he was there.
“To be living in that cell for 16, 17 hours a day, you go from being able to do just about anything that you want to do,” Burress said, “to basically putting you in a cage, putting you in a box. It gets your attention.”
He temporarily lost his NFL career and missed the birth of his daughter.
Burress’ wife had issued temporary restraining orders against him after past domestic disturbances. The wide receiver said it was nothing out of the ordinary.
“My wife and I, our relationship hasn’t always been pretty,” said Burress. “I went through things that a normal person would have.”
Burress believes he can be an elite receiver again.
“I just have that confidence and belief in myself that I’m going to go out and play at a high level,” he said. “Then everybody is going to go back to scratching their head again: How does he do it? How did he not practice and do it? He’s been away for two years. How does he do it?”
Burress also acknowledges that he no longer owns any guns.
“Nah, man,” he said. “I just don’t want to be around anything negative. I walk around everyday with my head held high. ‘Yeah, OK, I’m the guy that shot myself.’ People always ask me if I would change that situation. I say, ‘Hell yeah. Nobody wants to go to jail.’ But, the person that I am and where I’m at at this time, I wouldn’t change the person.”
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