The Roger Goodell NFL likes to enforce the idea that they have classy, law-abiding, elite athletes, who as part of the elite organization that is the NFL, act with a high level of decorum; players are punished when they break the actual law, the organization’s law, when they Tweet something they shouldn’t, when they hit a player too hard, etc. And despite this high level of decorum with which everyone should act, the Roger Goodell NFL also likes to believe that ex-felons are rehabilitated and can therefore abide by the rules. And while this blog could quickly take an ugly turn towards debating the American prison system’s claim to rehabilitate, this is about Plaxico Burress.
This is about the fact that although Plaxico may or may not have had valid complaints about Tom Coughlin, his actions and comments make it obvious the “man” has no sense of personal responsibility, is an angry person, and anything he has to say shouldn’t be taken seriously. To be clear, I am not one of those Giants fans who loved Plaxico all along, calls him a hero for winning the 2008 SB, wanted him back on the team, and is now mad at him. Yes, I acknowledge he helped win the 2008 SB for the Gmen, and yes, I acknowledge he is a talented player, but since day one, with the departure of Ike Hilliard for Plax, I was apprehensive about how his off-field shenanigans would affect the team.
Throughout his career, Plaxico had a cavalier attitude towards any semblance of rules and regulations, played out by a series of outstanding traffic tickets in Florida, domestic disputes, and civil law suits, all culminating with a self-inflicted gun shot wound to the leg. Before prison, all you heard was that NY is making an example out of him, he didn’t hurt anyone else, he was being treated unfairly for who he was, etc.
It’s interesting to me that Plaxico feels that way because it seems that America loves a comeback story- a ridiculously talented and cocky athlete who had issues with authority, didn’t think rules applied to him, was caught breaking the law, serves his time in prison, apologizes, and dedicates his “new life” to repaying those he hurt. America’s sports fans want to believe that if someone is sorry (and all of a sudden no longer has a fundamental desire to kill dogs) and pays their penance, they should be forgiven. But, when someone does all of the above, except apologize and pay penance to those he hurt, people aren’t so forgiving.
Some highlights of Plaxico’s recent comments:
“I’m like, forget support — how about some concern?” Burress said. “I did just have a bullet in my leg. And then I sat in his office, and he pushed back his chair and goes, ‘I’m glad you didn’t kill anybody!’ Man, we’re paid too much to be treated like kids. He doesn’t realize that we’re grown men and actually have kids of our own.” He also told the magazine that Coughlin is “not a real positive coach.” (CBS Sports)
If this isn’t anything but a whiny, self-entitled, mad-at-the-world-rant from a man-child, then I don’t know what is. He is mad at Coughlin for treating him like a child? Then don’t act like one! What adult, what MAN, shoots HIMSELF in the leg, then gets mad that his boss is glad no one else was hurt? YOU DID IT TO YOURSELF! No one shot you, no one forced you to bring an illegal weapon (in NY) into the nightclub, and no one forced you to go out to a place where you felt you needed to pack heat for protection in the first place.
Then, to make things even better, he expresses his anger with Eli Manning for not being more supportive of him and coming to visit while in prison. “I was always his biggest supporter, even days he wasn’t on, ’cause I could sense he didn’t have thick skin,” Burress said. “Then I went away, and I thought he would come see me, but nothing, not a letter, in two years. I don’t want to say it was a slap in the face, but I thought our relationship was better than that.”(CBS Sports)
So not only does he want his coach to feel nothing but sorrow for him, but he is upset one of the league’s top QBs (after the SB win), who still plays in NY and has a squeaky-clean Manning family image, isn’t visiting him in prison? It wasn’t bad enough he took down Pierce with him that night, it wasn’t bad enough he left Eli without a go to WR, but now, he wants sympathy from more of the team?
My angry point is that Plaxico’s “misfortune” was all brought on by himself. To all the Giants fans who wanted Plax back, be thankful he is gone. Be thankful he wants to play for Rex Ryan who, “…when their player makes a mistake, they take ’em to the side and say, ‘We’ll get ’em next time…'” Does Plaxico not understand that he didn’t just bungle a route or have an incomplete pass where Coach could say, “shake it off”?
It’s one thing to come out of prison and say, “I really messed up, I really made a mistake, and I really want to change and show everyone I’m different.” the way Michael Vick did (forget whether or not I agree he really is a changed man, that is an entirely different topic and based on my previous comment, I am sure you can figure out my stance). It’s another thing for a player to leave prison and say,”I was a human pincushion; they were like, ‘Yeah, we finally got you, mother——‘” he said. “On the cover of the New York Post, it said ‘GIANT IDIOT!’ and I’m thinking, ‘Damn, I went and gave ’em what they wanted. I’m just another gun-toting, famous black athlete.’ ” (ESPN.com)
The article goes on to say that, “While in prison, Burress started to realize that he wasn’t just a victim, that he had chosen to take the gun into the club and…had to do things differently.” Yet his next quote (to the fans) is, “What are you doing now?…You still mad at your job? You still angry about your life? ‘Cause I’m back living my life and enjoying my family while you’re still doing the same thing… people who can’t forgive me should look in a mirror because what, they never made a mistake?”
So back to Vick- he came out of prison and basically said (through his actions), “You know what, I was the example athlete who came from a certain culture where dog-fighting is OK and I want to change that for other people so they see I made a mistake.” Whether court-mandated or not, he contributes towards the prevention of animal cruelty, has become a serious leader who studies the playbook, and is seemingly humbled in all of his interviews.
So you know what, Plaxico? You are right. You are back living your life, doing the exact same thing you did before-pointing fingers, blaming everyone else for your own actions, sounding like an angry child who has no concept of the correlation between actions and consequences. You are not taking it upon yourself to be the poster child for anti-gun violence or gun safety, you are not doing anything differently than before.
I’m not sure if it’s that Vick has a better PR rep than Plaxico, but I never thought I’d be so angry with another player’s attitude, that I’d use Vick as an example of “how to come out of prison and look like a winner”.