Burress off the streets makes New York more safe?

August 20, 2009 | Drew Forrester

For as long as I can remember, we – the great unwashed – have always begrudged athletes and celebrities who get preferential treatment because of their status in our community.

While we wait for a table at the fancy restaurant, they pass right through to the seat overlooking the water.

When the concert is sold out for months, they somehow get seats in the 2nd row…and they don’t decide to go to the show until 4pm the day of.

We hope the police officer will give us a break for going 54 in a 40 MPH zone, but they get a “good luck on Sunday!” and “drive a little slower next time” parting comment from their trooper.

And when they DO run afoul of the law, more times than not, the athlete or celebrity seems to always get the wrist-slap or the punishment that seems soft and flexible.

See Example A:  Donte Stallworth, 2009.

Plaxico Burress is going to jail.  His sentence of 2 years was made public today and Burress will now face incarceration as part of New York’s “no tolerance” policy for carrying an unregistered weapon in their state. 

Burress, you’ll remember, shot himself in the leg last year while carrying a loaded pistol.  

He’s NOT a Rhodes Scholar candidate, obviously.

But today, Burress finally drew the athlete-short-straw.  

He couldn’t wiggle his way out of it.  His attorney couldn’t pull enough strings.  And in the end, Burress was treated just like anyone else in New York.

Or was he?

From my vantage point, it appears like Burress got his 2-year shaft BECAUSE of his status as a famous New York athlete.  

Are you telling me that every person in New York arrested for carrying a concealed weapon has gone to jail as part of the state’s mandatory-prison resolution?  I doubt it.  Hell, half of those scallywags probably do the duck-and-dodge and never even show up for court until they’re arrested 9 months later for peddling heroin or stealing a car.

But Burress can’t hide.  His attorney can’t make excuses for another “failure to appear”.  He can’t bury himself in the dark regions of the Bronx or Queens, create a new name and identity, and work for $9 an hour sweeping the floors of a nightclub from 2am-6am.  

Ever since his arrest, Plaxico Burress and his case has been front page news.  What about all the other miscreants arrested in New York over the last 12 months?  What about the three, four or five time offenders who continue to dodge the bullet of the court system’s poorly-aimed righteous rifle?  Why aren’t THEY on the front page?  Maybe, just maybe, if their picture could be slapped on the front page of the Daily News or New York Post, perhaps they’d be caught and dealt with accordingly.

What Plaxico Burress did was wrong, make no mistake about it.  He can’t just lug around a loaded, concealed weapon.  Sorry, I believe in right-to-bear-arms and all that stuff our forefathers inked in the Constitution, but you don’t put a gun in your hip and go out for the night unless you have a badge and a vest to go with it.

Burress was wrong.  He should be punished.

But going to jail for two years?  Too harsh. 

Are the streets of New York more safe right now because Plaxico Burress isn’t roaming around at 12:30 am?

The answer, of course, is no…they’re not.

Burress is a dummy.  He’s not a criminal.

The whole thing reminds me of a scene from “A Few Good Men” where Tom Cruise questions Kiefer Sutherland and asks him why he gave Private Santiago a bad mark on a review and Sutherland says, “because he committed a crime” and Cruise responds with:  “Really?  A crime?  He gave a starving marine some food and water.  Is that REALLY a crime?”

Burress is guilty of not being smart.  And, frankly, you can add reckless to that.  Carrying a loaded weapon around is dangerous to himself (as he proved) and others in the event of an accidental discharge.

Then again, driving 82MPH on I-95 is reckless and could be harmful to others as well, but just about every single one of you reading this has done it.  More than once.  

Plaxico Burress isn’t a criminal.  

He’s a football player with an out-of-balance sense of self-entitlement who assumed he could carry a weapon because he felt like doing so.  

I doubt very seriously that he was thinking about robbing a 7-11 in the Bronx that night.

Tonight, though, he’s off the streets of New York.

And he’s off the streets of New York MAINLY because he’s an athlete.

For once, the law came down on someone no matter how many touchdowns, home runs or star movies scenes they’ve produced.

If you’re in the camp of “Burress broke the law and he should go to jail”, you’re getting your wish. 

I’m in the camp of trying to figure out how the real criminals and the real threats to society always seem to get more chances than the Orioles have had wins since the All-Star break…but this guy, Burress, couldn’t get the same treatment.

Of course, if they let him off with a flick on the nose and chains around his ankles for 15 days of home confinement, everyone would bellyache “the football player gets special consideration”…”but WE don’t…”.

And there’s some truth to that.   

That is, after all, what happened in the Stallworth case.  Drunk, he drove into a man and killed him.  The man’s family was grief stricken.  Until the mail came a few weeks later.  Stallworth writes a check, does 30 days, misses a year of the NFL and his life goes on.  Altered?  Sure.  But did HIS punishment fit the crime?  You bet your ass it didn’t.

If that’s you, me or your cousin Bill or Aunt Martha, and we drive drunk and kill someone, we’re not getting 30 days.  

Burress simply broke the wrong law in the wrong state.  He would have been MUCH better off just getting hammered on gin and juice and plowing over a couple of bagel shop workers at 5:30 in the morning as he was leaving a nightspot.

One thing for sure, he won’t be robbing a 7-11 on West 53rd tonight.

Someone else, though, is probably planning it as you read this.