Back in November 2008, Plaxico Burress was at the forefront of the sports news world when he accidentally shot himself in the leg while inside a Manhattan nightclub with a gun. A major f-ck up, but not that bad on the official 1 to 10 NFL crime scale:
All of this sent his NFL career prematurely down the drain as he was sentenced to two years in prison for violating New York’s strict gun laws. The firearm had not been licensed in New York which led to his arrest and subsequent stint in jail.
With that entire situation years behind him, Burress finally revealed what actually happened in a piece that he recently wrote for The Players’ Tribune.
My friends and I stood at the bar for like five minutes, and the place was packed wall to wall. The security guy suggested we go upstairs, where we could get a table and chill and it wouldn’t be so crazy. So we did, and he led the way.
The stairway was narrow and dark and everything was black. I had a drink in my left hand and I was walking right behind the security guard. The music was loud and I could feel the bass thumping the stairs under my feet. But I could barely see and I guess I missed a step and my foot slipped. My gun came unhooked from my belt and went sliding down my right pant leg. My instant reaction was to catch it before it hit the floor, and I reached down with my right hand to grab it. And I guess my finger hit right on the trigger, because it went off.
The music was so loud that nobody actually heard the gun discharge, but I knew that it had because I saw the flash of fire through my jeans.
It had long been a mystery as to how Burress shot himself that night. That said, it shows what a foolish mistake that he made by bringing a gun with him to the club that could have easily led to a much worse situation for himself or someone else present in the vicinity.
What also stood out from Burress’ recollection of the situation was that he didn’t even know that he had shot himself as he first looked around to see if it hit anyone else. He only then realized he had accidentally fired upon himself after seeing a wet substance on his pants.
This incident made Burress famous for all the wrong reasons, making him the butt of many jokes while costing him millions in the process as he served the remaining prime years of his career in prison. In essence, his mistake wasted an opportunity to put together what could have been a Hall of Fame worthy career that may have included another Super Bowl ring and lucrative contract.
Instead, Burress came back to the NFL in 2011 at the age of the 34 as the shadow the player he once was. He played just two more seasons with the New York Jets and Pittsburgh Steelers.
Burress recorded a respectable 45 catches for 615 receiving yards and eight touchdowns in 2011 with the Giants. His production tailed off in his final NFL season in Pittsburgh appearing in just four games with three catches for 42 receiving yards and a touchdown after signing midway through the season. He inked a one-year deal for the following year, but a torn rotator cuff in August 2013 ended any hope of continuing his career.
However, the personal troubles didn’t stop there for Burress as he pleaded guilty to tax evasion in April 2015 after he failed to pay almost $48,000 in income taxes for his 2013 state income tax return. What makes matters worse is that he attempted to pay through an electronic transfer that failed to go through and he was even notified several times about it, including through certified mail.
Burress was sentenced to five years of probation while having to pay nearly $56,000 in restitution and penalties. He could also face a year county jail term if he were to miss a payment in the duration of his probation.
Ultimately, Burress serves as a cautionary tale of what happens when a professional athlete puts themselves in a sketchy situation; when million dollar contracts can turn into jail time in the blink of an eye, or the flash of a muzzle.