Why New York Made an Example of Plaxico Burress (And Why the Eagles Should Sign Him)

Plus: Good riddance, Ed Snider!

Plaxico Burress getting out of jail this week opens up a couple of interesting avenues of discussion, one being the choice of cap tucked under the hood of his hoodie.

In that emotional “I’m finally out of the joint scene”—where Burress’s agent Drew Rosenhaus took a flying leap into his client’s arms while Plax was probably saying, “Yo, get off me man; if I’m going to bump my penis off something, I want it to be my wife”—we all saw that Plax was wearing an old-school Phillies cap. And speaking of leaps, the one we want to make here is that Burress was sending a clear message that he wants to continue his football career in Philadelphia with the Eagles.

Frankly, I think that would be a good idea.

Could it hurt the Birds to take a chance on a 6-6 wide receiver who undoubtedly would improve their red zone efficiency? Burress would come here as a very valuable third or fourth receiver, a specialty guy who can help the offense— if he wants to take less money. I have questions about whether a guy, who will turn 35 years old during the upcoming NFL season (if there even is an NFL season) still has enough legs. I mean, it took Michael Vick, who was 28 years old when he came out of the joint, a couple of years to get his speed back. I wonder if Burress will ever be able to run again at an NFL level.

That said, the Eagles certainly aren’t about to give him a big contract. In fact, I’m not sure the contract would be any more than a one-year deal with a very minimal signing bonus. If Rosenhaus is pushing hard for his client, he’ll get several better offers from teams around the league more desperate for a wide receiver than the Eagles. (Actually, I’ve got to give that little weasel a little credit. At this stage, Rosenhaus isn’t going to make much money off of Burress and the fact that he’s sticking by him is admirable.)

But on the Burress front, there is an issue that concerns me just a bit more. I have heard numerous pundits—some on my own radio station, 97.5 FM The Fanatic—say that Burress was railroaded and should not have had to serve two years in prison for a crime he essentially inflicted on himself. I can’t think of any conclusion more short-sighted.

Since when do we look at the end instead of the means when interpreting a criminal act? Why should Burress accidentally shooting himself mitigate the crime he committed? The crime he committed was illegally carrying a loaded gun—for which he had no permit to carry—into a nightclub. Suppose the bullet that came out of Plax’s gun that night missed his leg, and ricocheted off the floor of the nightclub and into an innocent patron? Would you be thinking differently then? Of course you would.

If a man went into a bank, brandishing a shotgun and trying to rob the place, and he wound up walking out because the teller couldn’t get access to the money, isn’t it still a crime?

The point is: The law is written (and enforced more stringently in New York simply because the population, with New York City being a part of the state, is a lot more intense and therefore a lot more people could be victims of this behavior) to prevent idiots from carrying a gun in such a place. Suppose a judge looked at this case and let Plaxico Burress off the hook because he only harmed himself? Doesn’t that kind of make the same behavior permissive for others?

In New York, there is a mandatory sentence of two years for carrying a concealed weapon gun into public place. So you tell me how Plaxico Burress got railroaded?

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Another big story in Philadelphia this week is the possible sale of the Philadelphia 76ers. The potential buyer is a guy named Joshua Harris, a 46-year-old billionaire New Yorker (also a University of Pennsylvania Wharton School grad) who made his money as a leveraged buyout specialist. He has his own private equity firm in Manhattan. I don’t have a clue what a leveraged buyout specialist is and I have no idea what a private equity firm is. I’ve always been private about the fact that I don’t have any equity. But I think this is a good thing.

The Sixers have been stagnant for too long under Comcast-Spectacor, and its erstwhile front man Ed Snider. New blood is good. It gets people’s attention. It makes employees and the front office be more accountable.

The new-school, rich-kid sports team owners can be a pain in the ass sometimes. They like to play with their toys a little more. Think Mark Cuban and Daniel Snyder. But I’ve got to think that if the Sixers general managers go out and pay both $15 million a year for Andre Iguodala and Elton Brand, this Harris dude would ask a few more questions about those transactions than Snider, who wouldn’t know a basketball from a pumpkin and didn’t appear to care that much about the sport besides standing up and flaunting his peacock feathers occasionally with a seventh blonde wife in tow, positioned next to the wallet side of his Italian-made trousers.

Here’s to one less employee base that has to call him “Mr. Snider.”