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December 01, 2008

Plaxico Burress and Gun Control

First, Plaxico is in serious trouble. New York has a mandatory 3 1/2 year sentence for illegally carrying a gun, and Mayor Bloomberg is issuing statements that it's especially important to prosecute high-visibility figures for such crimes, as they're role models.

He has Sean "P Diddy" Combs' lawyer, who I think got "Diddy" off a similar charge a few years ago. Even if the state is impressed by his representation and fears juries would let a celebrity off the hook, the plea bargain will likely include jail time. Six months I'm guessing (based on nothing at all). They may be inclined to let him serve his time in the off-season, for whatever that's worth.

And it's not worth all that much. The NFL Commissioner will likely suspend him for a full year, conviction or not.

The Giants will almost certainly cut him. He can't play this year, most likely, due to the hamstring pull (I can't imagine a gunshot wound to the same thigh wil help his healing), and he'll be suspended next year (if he's not in jail). And that's going to be costly for Burress, as something like $21 million of his $25 million three year contract is not guaranteed -- it's all ballooning future salary and performance bonuses and so forth. The Giants can cut him and pay him very little more.

On December 10th Burress is due for a $1 million payment, if he's still on the team. The Giants will likely save that one million, and thus $20 million more.

It doesn't help Burress that not having him on the field doesn't hurt the Giants. He's a good receiver -- but not a franchise receiver. And he causes more problems than he solves.

NYC is infamously reluctant to issue anyone a concealed carry permit. (It's hard enough to just get a license, period.) Usually the process is that you pay a lot of money to apply for the license and jump through the various hoops they've designed to discourage you from applying at all. Then they deny you. If you are rich, you can then sue them, threatening a reexamination of their gun control laws' compliance with the 2nd Amendment. After spending enough money to let them know you're serious, they might then grant you the license to make the lawsuit go away.

Howard Stern got his concealed carry license this way, I think.

So the upshot is that the NY will allow the rich and famous to carry weapons, if they're noisy and litigious enough about it, in order to preserve the basic law that no one is able to carry a gun.

The best spin offered on Plax's behalf came from Tiki Barber, noting that fellow NYG receiver Sean Smith had recently been robbed at gunpoint just outside the door of his home, and Plax may have felt he needed a gun to protect himself. It is hardly implausible that armed muggers might go after sports stars 1) who are probably carrying a lot of cash and 2) whose addresses and hang-outs can easily be found on the internet and gossip pages.

Even so, the reason we know about this at all is that Plax took the gun out at the nightclub, apparently for no reason except to show it off. He shot himself, I hear, because his hands were too filled with drinks to properly hold it. Smart.

Among the interesting legal/political/2nd Amendment questions:

1) Obivously-- is NY's policy on gun ownership and carrying too restrictive?

2) Should there be some special privilege for the rich, famous, or notorious, who do have some reason to suspect elevated risk? But if they have an elevated risk of being assaulted, what do we say to the millions of people in NYC living in bad neighborhoods? They have an even greater risk.

3) Even if NYC had a more lenient CC regime, should Plax had gotten a permit? Probably. The thing is, we know he's a flake and likely a little crazy, with a host of deep personality flaws. But as far as I know, he hasn't been in trouble with the law. At least no articles I've seen mention arrests. He seems to be a bad employee, not a criminal (until now). Even if you suspect Plax is a bad risk for carrying a concealed weapon (which I do), there's no official paper trial to say so. Meaning if you were to deny him a permit, it would have to be based upon the vague standard of "general flakiness" and "puts out a bad vibe." Or you'd have to hope he'd flunk a psychological evaluation, which is just as subjective. It's just more official sounding.

But, it turns out, such concerns of undefinable flakiness and basic dysfunctionality would have proven predictive --again, this is a guy who decides the best time to show off his gun in a crowded nightclub is when he's juggling three drinks and a lightstick he got from a Ketel One Vodka Girl.

If he'd been able to get a gun legally, would gun safety courses have been enough to teach him not to do this? Of course not. Half of such classes are the obvious stuff they have to cover just to make sure lunatics and retards have at least heard it said that one shouldn't point a gun, loaded or not, at anyone "just as as joke,"b but if you walk in not knowing stuff like this, a gun instructor's mention of it is not going to open your eyes to the wide world of common fucking sense.

Sports Reporters Are Ass-Kissing Jock-Sniffers: All last year I heard how "heroic" Burress was. See, he had a lingering injury (ankle, I think) that kept him from practicing. And yet this Iron Man, this Gridiron Warrior, showed up every Sunday to play. And often dominate.

Now, for a while, I did buy this, and thought, "Hm. Maybe Plaxico got a bad rap in Pittsburgh. I mean, look-- he's so injured he can't practice, but he rallies each week to play as if he's not injured at all. He's gt the iron will of Batman, for crying out loud."

And then, about three quarters of the way through the season, it occurred to me (I'm a naive, trusting type) that maybe he wasn't "heroic" for showing up for games, but rather lazy and non-heroic for blowing off practices claiming an injury that didn't exist (or, at least, didn't exist in any seriously debilitating way -- as my old coaches stressed every week, there's a difference between pain or discomfort and injury).

Only now, with Plax about to be indicted, to I read a Fox reporter sarcastically noting how Plax's year-long injury always seemed to go away for precisely three hours every Sunday.

While the Giants had prevented the Patriots from completing their perfect season, Burress had achieved something of a perfect season himself. He somehow managed to be too injured to practice but healthy enough to completely dominate guys on Sunday. He had taken a great gig and made it even better.

But even if he only had to work one day a week for less than six months a year, he still wanted a raise.

Yeah. Kinda obvious. So why was every reporter selling me on Plax's "heroism" every week last season?

Oh: It should be noted that Plax's no-practice style of football did not seem to reduce his performance much. We don't know how much better he'd've been had he practiced, but he didn't make obvious errors during the games. He ran good routes, caught a lot of balls, and blocked downfield for runners and other receivers as required.

It's possible Plax was right, that a veteran really doesn't need that much more practice during the week and he's better off taking it easy the whole week before gameday.

Maybe coaches might want to examine this possibility.

But, obviously, this wasn't his call. Perhaps the coaches connived to let him get away with it last season, winking at the "injury" as a pretext to let a veteran have more privileges than anyone else. Trouble is, they stopped winking at it this season, and he still blew off practices. And physical therapy for that persistent six-days-a-week injury, too.

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posted by Ace at 04:10 PM

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