NFL players are justifiably fearful for their safety. They’re targets.
It has been a year since home invaders murdered Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor in his Miami bedroom. Since then, Jacksonville offensive lineman Richard Collier lost a leg and remains paralyzed after being shot 14 times in what police classified as a retaliatory incident. Oakland receiver Javon Walker was beaten senseless in a robbery while walking the Las Vegas streets. And last month, New York Giants receiver Steve Smith was robbed at gunpoint, allegedly by the limousine driver he paid to drive him home safely to his insulated suburban community.
Noted athletes are no different than the publicly anonymous. They enjoy every right of self-defense. But when will they realize that their strongest defense rests with what lies between their ears rather than what they’re possibly packing in their pants?
If carrying a concealed handgun becomes part of the mandatory attire for attending a nightclub, then maybe that athlete should alter his late-night parameters for “having a good time.”
That’s the underlying lesson of New York Giants receiver Plaxico Burress’ current legal difficulties.
Our collective freedoms come attached with individual responsibilities. A person has the right to own a gun if for no other juvenile rationalization than the idea that packing cold steel somehow accelerates a testosterone rush. But whatever their motivations, they must abide by gun-possession laws.
Burress faces two felony counts for illegal gun possession. He accidently shot himself in the leg late Nov. 28 at a Manhattan nightclub with a gun he concealed in his pants that allegedly wasn’t licensed in New York City. He’s entitled to his rightful day in court, knowing that stupidity isn’t a crime but negligence could earn him sufficient jail time if he’s bound over for trial and eventually found guilty.
Burress’ situation has become a political football.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg promised last week that Burress wouldn’t receive any special legal consideration due to his celebrity stature, demanding a full and furious prosecution of the felony gun charges. Bloomberg wants all his constituents to understand that if a defending Super Bowl champion wide receiver isn’t absolved from answering for his actions then how long are the odds of an average citizen beating the rap if they’re caught with a suspected illegal handgun?
This isn’t about the right to gun ownership.
It’s about the legal responsibilities of gun ownership.
If athletes can’t handle the accountability of properly — and legally — carrying a firearm, then they should consider other alternatives to keep themselves safer.
How about not flaunting their opulent lifestyle as brazenly as they currently do? Is it really necessary motoring around in outrageously customized sport-utility vehicles that scream to potential criminals, “Hey, I’ve got so much money I don’t know what to do with it all?
It’s evident that athletes aren’t immune to senseless crime, but Burress’ career-threatening predicament should teach all athletes that blatant irresponsibility with deadly weapons isn’t the answer.