EDITORIAL - Tough penalty: Plaxico Burress goes from glory to prison

Written by Susan Mannella on .

How the mighty have fallen. Plaxico Burress, once a wide receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers, had the world at his fingertips -- in the form of a world championship ring -- after going to the New York Giants.

But only 18 months or so after he caught the winning pass in the Super Bowl for the Giants and was the toast of New York, the player is left to consider a fumble of his own making. It's really too bad, but he broke the law and now he will pay a double price.

The first was paid nine months after his greatest football achievement, when he accidentally shot himself in the leg after carrying an illegal gun into a nightclub. He lost his job with the Giants over that and last week the extent of the second price was set.

He agreed to a sentence of two years in prison -- of which he must serve at least 20 months -- in pleading guilty Thursday in a New York City court for one count of attempted criminal possession of a weapon. He will be formally sentenced on Sept. 22.

As he could have received a minimum of 31/2 years in prison if he had gone to trial and been found guilty, it might seem like a break in a city that takes its gun-control laws seriously and for good reason.

But viewed against penalties imposed on other NFL players who hurt more than themselves -- Donte Stallworth, who served 24 days in jail for running over and killing a man while driving drunk; Michael Vick, who did 18 months in prison for the cruelty of dogfighting -- it does seem harsh.

What Plaxico Burress did was an accident and his lack of malice was consistent with his reputation as someone who wasn't a mean character. He was liked by players and the press, even if he did some goofy things.

So it's sad. What do they say in football? The penalties for stupid things are the hardest to take.


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