Plaxico Burress warns rookies: Don’t think it can’t happen to you

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Plaxico Burress knows he’s a cautionary tale for NFL rookies, and that when young football players hear his name, they’re less likely to think of his Super Bowl-winning touchdown catch and more likely to think, “That’s the guy who shot himself.”

Burress is OK with that. In a column for the Players’ Tribune, Burress writes that he wants every player in this year’s NFL rookie class to think about him, and think about whether what happened to him can happen to them. Not necessarily the exact same thing — all of this year’s rookies may make it through their careers without accidentally shooting themselves and then going to prison because they were carrying the gun illegally — but Burress thinks a lot of rookies need to know that they’re a lot less invincible and a lot closer to having their lives fall apart than they think they are.

“I know you’re probably sitting back, thinking, Nah, something like that won’t happen to me,” Burress writes. “That’s what I thought, too. And it happened to me. I went from being an NFL superstar to basically being put in a cage for 17 hours a day. I cried so many nights that I lost count. I thought about all the playground legends from my hood who were better athletes than me, but they stayed in the hood doing the same things they had always done, smoking the same things they had always smoked and getting caught up in that life.

“But not me. I got out. I earned my way out. I had worked my whole life to get to where I was, and I threw it all away with one stupid decision. Now I was serving food in the prison cafeteria, mopping floors and cleaning toilets.”

Burress writes that the accidental shooting and subsequent 22 months in prison isn’t the only problem he had in his NFL career. He also found himself supporting people financially who didn’t support him personally — people whose bills he paid for years never visited him in prison.

“I trusted my heart — I had taken care of them because they were family — and I got burned,” Burress writes. “I learned that there are always people out there looking to use you for your money or your fame. It just hurt a lot because it was my own family.”

That’s something that surely will happen to some of this year’s NFL rookies because it happens all the time: Hundreds of NFL players have stories of family members taking advantage of their wealth. Perhaps a few of the players in this year’s rookie class will hear what Burress has to say, and make better decisions than he did.

39 responses to “Plaxico Burress warns rookies: Don’t think it can’t happen to you

  1. Came here to make fun of him…but good for Plaxico for learning his lesson and trying to pass it on to others.

  2. Buys platinum chains to show wealth and success.
    Wears chains to night club to flaunt.
    Brings gun with, to protect himself in case robbed of chains.
    Accidentally shoots self as gun slides down waist band.
    Goes to prison for illegal possession of a firearm.

    Talib shoots self in similar position, but in a state where it’s legal to carry a firearm.

    Message to rookies, know where you are and the laws of that state. Or simply avoid the chains and lifestyle

  3. I went from being an NFL superstar to …
    —————-
    waking up and realizing I wasn’t.

  4. Good on him for sharing his hard lessons with the young guys. He made mistakes and seems to have learned from them – credit where credit is due.

  5. What? You mean diving for a catch on a crossing route in your first game for like 18 yards, not getting touched, standing up and spiking the ball like a jackwagon thinking he is still in college and the defense recovering the fumble? Or shooting yourself in the leg?

    All former Michigan State players have issues.

  6. Well said Plax, if just one single kid hears your message in or out of the NFL and avoids something like what you experienced then its well worth it.

    “Hundreds of NFL players have stories of family members taking advantage of their wealth.” lets face it, its thousands not hundreds.

  7. seatownballers says:
    May 8, 2017 6:21 PM

    Buys platinum chains to show wealth and success.
    Wears chains to night club to flaunt.
    Brings gun with, to protect himself in case robbed of chains.
    Accidentally shoots self as gun slides down waist band.
    Goes to prison for illegal possession of a firearm.

    Talib shoots self in similar position, but in a state where it’s legal to carry a firearm.

    Message to rookies, know where you are and the laws of that state. Or simply avoid the chains and lifestyle
    ———————-
    Plaxico’s gun was legal… elsewhere (in Florida). He crossed state lines with the gun (into NY, and it wasn’t legal in NJ where he resided either), a mistake many people make. Unlike your driver’s license which is good all over the US, a gun permit is only valid for the state of registration.

  8. Sad condition.
    Hopefully, his experience will not be wasted. Ryan Leaf, Ray Rice and others are doing a supposed fine job trying to get the rookies to keep their heads on straight.
    Good luck

  9. Hopefully the rookies will absorb just a little from this guy, Ray Rice, Ryan Leaf.
    The NFLPA should conduct behavioral classes if they didn’t learn anything in college.

  10. That’s awesome to hear it from Plaxico. The NFLPA shouldn’t be leaving it up to ex-players. If they truly want to represent the players, they need to help educate them.

  11. It’s nice that Plaxico is telling his story and warning the rookies not to go down the same road that he did. I just can’t help but wonder what he was into that he felt the need to carry a gun when going out. That didn’t just “happen”. His life style and freedom only stopped because he shot himself. Had he not done that,the party and who knows what else would have continued indefinitely. It took a stint in prison to wake him up.

  12. What’s so hard to understand? Have the safety on. Don’t test positive at the combine. Don’t play with fireworks. Don’t murder people.. or at least hide it better.

  13. Great message from Burris! And notice how he referenced smoking weed as part of the problem?
    But sadly, the message will fall on deaf ears. As long as the players agents, the owners, coaches, GM’s and the Players Association continue to defend these guys, they will continue to mess up.
    When the league starts banning these guys who continue to mess up for life, maybe the message will get through.

  14. “Okay rookies, if you feel the need to carry a gun, use an ankle holster. Do not, I repeat, do not tie it off with your sweat pants drawstring and let it dangle.”

  15. hailtothenamechange says:
    May 8, 2017 8:55 PM

    Committing felonies isn’t really something that “happens to you.” Good on Burress to deliver a cautionary tale anyway though.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Actually when you’re licensed to carry your fire arm and you’ve bought and paid for everything legally, only to find out too late that it doesn’t cover you in every state, then yeah it kind of is something that “happens to you”.

    Not giving him a pass for his ignorance, but there’s a big difference between this and being caught with a throw-away that has the serial numbers scratched off and is connected to 3 bodies.

  16. Plax will never be invited to speak at the Baneys rookie camp. The last thing they want is their rookies to become disillusioned with moral and ethical behavior.

  17. Stuff like this always reminds me of the old Mark Twain quote:

    “When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.”

  18. meadowlandssports says:
    May 8, 2017 7:12 PM

    Plaxico’s gun was legal… elsewhere (in Florida). He crossed state lines with the gun (into NY, and it wasn’t legal in NJ where he resided either), a mistake many people make. Unlike your driver’s license which is good all over the US, a gun permit is only valid for the state of registration.

    ———-

    Sorry, no excuse.

    I am an ardent supported of the 2nd amendment, grew up with firearms, have owned them my entire adult life, and I am a holder of a Michigan Concealed Pistol License.

    It’s MY responsibility and no one else’s to know what states my or may not have reciprocity with my MICHIGAN permit when I leave that state that issued it.

    With that said, I’m glad that Plaxico is trying to keep others from making the same mistakes, I always liked him.

  19. The problem with this is those rookies with a brain will listen to this even though they probably wouldn’t ever dream of doing it in the first place. The rookies who have IQs similar to their shoe size need to hear this the most and they won’t listen.

  20. It’s rather unfortunate… the more you try to warn this generation and tell them “this can happen to you” the more they are likely to think “oh yeah…. bet!!”

  21. Everyone always says the Giants “got lucky” winning the Super Bowl, and never had a really good team.

    Well, the Giants were an NFL-best 11-1 and defending Super Bowl Champions when Plaxico shot himself in 2008. THAT was their really good team, and one selfish player ruined it all.

  22. So sad, Plax was a human vacuum cleaner when the ball was in the air, very much like larry fitzgerald, his loss was felt for years after he was gone !

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