In his first televised interview since being released from prison, Jets receiver Plaxico Burress spoke at length regarding the events that resulted in his leg taking a bullet — and his butt taking a seat in a cell.
On HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, which debuts on Tuesday, August 16 at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT, Burress re-hashed the incident in a Manhattan nightclub with Gumbel, and Burress talked about the “it’ll be OK” attitude he adopted after shooting himself with a concealed weapon.
“I knew the New York gun laws, so I definitely would have shared them with him, if I would have known he had his gun here and was taking it to New York City,” Tiffany Burress, a practicing lawyer, told Gumbel. She also explained that, on the way home from the hospital, she told Burress he’d be going to jail.
“I’m not going to jail,” he said in response.
“I never thought it was gonna be a problem,” Burress told Gumbel. “I just said to myself, ‘I own a gun. It’s mine. I bought it. How much trouble can I be in?’”
Initially, he perhaps wouldn’t have been in quite as much trouble. But lawyer Benjamin Brafman told Gumbel that the public comments from Mayor Michael Bloomberg complicated the situation. The first hint of it came when, in the wake of Mayor Bloomberg’s plea for Burress to be thrown “in the slammer,” an understanding that Plaxico’s bail would be set at only $10,000 was scuttled by prosecutors, who upped the ante to $250,000.
And when Brafman explained to Burress that Mayor Bloomberg’s position had created a problem, Burress said, “Who’s Mayor Bloomberg?”
Burress then thought that, if he told his story to the grand jury, they’d go easy on him, despite the wishes of Mayor Whatshisname.
“I was wrong again,” Burress said.
In the end, it’s that deliberate ignorance with which Burress lived his life that caused him to end up spending nearly two years behind bars. He had constant access to a lawyer in his own house, but he had no curiosity nor sensitivity as to the realities of taking a gun out in public. And even if his wife truly didn’t know he had brought his gun to their home in New Jersey and/or that he had taken it into New York City, at some point she surely thought that Plaxico needed a talking-to when it comes to the realities of gun ownership. In his mind, once you buy the gun, you own it, it’s yours, and as long as you don’t shoot someone else or put it in someone’s face, you can’t get in any trouble.
In his wife’s defense, she probably gave up long ago trying to talk sense into a guy who did whatever he wanted to do, and who believed that he’d find someone who would give him a break because he can run fast, jump high, and catch footballs.
“I don’t take shit from nobody,” Burress said when explaining his public image to Gumbel.
That attitude pretty much explains it all.
While he possible has changed in the wake of his incarceration, it could be that the only thing he truly has learned is that he shouldn’t take a gun into Manhattan. And so he has gotten rid of his guns. The real question is whether he has adopted the kind of mindset that will allow him to spot trouble — and avoid it — before trouble finds him again.