The Mirage of Plaxico Burress

Plaxico Burress is the mirage of a bright blue oasis in the scorching desert. Everything about it seems perfect until that horrible moment when you realize it was just an illusion.

Burress is primed for a comeback of epic proportions. Michael Vick has already paved the road for future convicts. Vick didn’t lose a step while he sat in a jail cell. The Plaxico mirage tells us that he hasn’t lost a step either.

For a team that needs a big play threat, Plaxico Burress seems like a great fit. The price tag won’t be a problem and he will almost certainly be determined to prove to the world that he still has it. Plaxico Burress’ situation is set up as the perfect sequel to Michael Vick’s “Cinderella: The Incarcerated Athlete.”

As we know all too well though, looks can be deceiving. The fact that both Vick and Burress served a similar jail term has overshadowed their considerably different circumstances.

The age factor is too much to ignore. Plaxico Burress is an old man. He will be 34 before the NFL’s 2011 season begins. Burress may be primed for a comeback but he is far from the prime of his career.

Michael Vick was 29 when he started his comeback. Some of his best years were taken away from him.

The last of Plaxico Burress’ best years were spent in prison. Burress’ chances to buck the trend of receivers declining severely in their mid-30’s is small at best. Randy Moss is the NFL’s most recent example of an aging star receiver’s freefall. Not coincidentally, the enigmatic Hall of Famer will be entering the season at the tender age of 34.

Before Burress’ season was cut short in 2008, he was on pace for his lowest receiving total in a full season since the 2003-04 season. His average yards per catch were the lowest since his rookie season. His long reception of 33 yards and his 1.6 YAC were the lowest of his career.

That was 3 years ago.

The fans and media are always game for a good Cinderella story. Plaxico Burress may never be the belle of the ball but his story is still compelling. Like Vick, people will want to see him succeed.

Take it to the bank. There’s going to be more stretching going on than a leotard in a Richard Simmons video. Stretching to find reasons for why Burress will thrive in his comeback.

The possible explanations will go on and on. Plaxico’s body didn’t face the weekly pounding of an NFL season. The man wants to prove himself. His time in prison helped him re-focus.

It won’t matter what type of man Burress has turned into.

This story isn’t about taking a chance on a player carrying baggage so heavy that he has to pay for an extra ticket on his flight. That isn’t the problem. Baggage shouldn’t even be an issue if the potential reward is high enough as displayed last season by guys like Santonio Holmes, Brandon Marshall, Antonio Cromartie and, of course, Michael Vick.

Related: Naughty or Nice?

The risk of bringing in Plaxico Burress doesn’t present the potential of reaping in some serious reward.

History, statistics and the law are all saying that it would be silly to bring in Plaxico Burress. There are better routes to explore in the quest to find a big play wide receiver.

The team that signs Plaxico Burress will feel obligated to play him. He will be given every opportunity because of his past. Randy Moss was given every chance imaginable last year in Tennessee.

Plaxico Burress won’t be the piece to put a team over the top. He will be the anchor that weighs them down. Prison isn’t going do to Plaxico Burress what it did to Michael Vick. It doesn’t work that way.

The mirage of Plaxico Burress will be too enticing for some teams to turn their back on. Luckily, only one team will have to suffer the consequences of the gamble.

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com. Also, follow me on twitter @paintstheblack and I will happily return the favour.

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Questions, comments, suggestions? Send yours to cross_can15@hotmail.com. Follow me on twitter @paintstheblack

14 Responses to The Mirage of Plaxico Burress

  1. Jsportsfan says:

    I also think Burress’s best days are behind him. He will never top his Super Bowl Winning catch against the Patriots. Good post!

  2. Bobby Charts says:

    Might sound funny, but i didnt realize Burress was that old, that is no doubt get up there. with all the much younger players in the league in their prime it will be tough on him. at this point who knows if we and he will have football before his 36, j/k, lol.

  3. tophatal says:

    Any team now wishing to take a flier on Plax needs to have a sign outside the players’ locker room ……“Leave your gun and bullets at home” . He could contribute to a team and I’m sure that there are a number of them in need of a deep threat at WR . Now all we have to do is see which team will show an interest and will Plax’s asking price be too high ? You know he’s going to want to get paid .

    tophatal …..

  4. tophatal says:

    Any team now wishing to take a flier on Plax needs to have a sign outside the players’ locker room ……“Leave your gun and bullets at home” . He could contribute to a team and I’m sure that there are a number of them in need of a deep threat at WR . Now all we have to do is see which team will show an interest and will Plax’s asking price be too high ? You know he’s going to want to get paid .

    tophatal …..

  5. mkmediaonline says:

    With all the rumors of my Chicago Bears in the mix of being interested in Burress, I can’t help but cringe when I saw your stats about his declining performance even before his prison stay. People only want to remember his Super Bowl performance and not the games after. Hopefully they aren’t too caught up with the Vick hoopla to realize that a player like Vick is the exception and not the rule.

  6. Chris Rowe says:

    Clearly we can all agree Plaxico Burress is an idiot for carrying a loaded gun in his parachue sweatpants going into a club – and even stupider for shooting “his own damn self” in the process. Vick was a dumbass too because he had to know better than to organize a murderous dogfighting business. That being said… reclamation projects exist for a reason… they did their time and paid their debt to society but in any other walk of life, ex-cons would have difficulty finding a job bagging groceries without persecution. Rewarding them with resuming their multi-million dollar careers is a socilogical phenomenon. Furthermore, Vick needed about 15 months to get back into NFL shape and even longer to shape up his life – and even with new sponsorship contracts, he is still getting back on his feet more than 2 years later. Don’t confuse Vick or Burress with Cinderella… these are not fairy tales and these men should not be admired. Lots of NFL players get in trouble and few are truly punished where it hurts (their image and livelihood) but we should not admire these people. Ray Lewis was never convicted but what about OJ Simpson or Donte Stallworth or any number of examples? Fining them is not enough. Suspending them is not enough. Deterrants exist for a reason and NFL players clearly feel they are above the law – even when convicted.

  7. JW says:

    “Before Burress’ season was cut short in 2008, he was on pace for his lowest receiving total in a full season since the 2003-04 season. His average yards per catch were the lowest since his rookie season. His long reception of 33 yards and his 1.6 YAC were the lowest of his career.”

    Add two years and only prison workouts to this and I agree – I don’t get why anybody thinks this guy can be a contributor. Probably the same people who have been telling me for six weeks a deal on the NFL lockout “would get done tomorrow.”

  8. Sports Cloud says:

    All it takes is a crappy team that feels the need to upgrade at receiver. Look out for Washington, Oakland, or even Buffalo to pull the trigger on that one. As a Redskins fan I hope having a GM will steer them away from that kind of trouble.

  9. Writerly Way says:

    If Plaxico Burress was 28, I might like this move. I just don’t seem him contributing much to the team at 34 and not in football shape. Andy Reid, I’m sure, can envision a way to use him on the field. And Reid won’t budge from that vision, if he can make a deal.
    Great blog, Chris.

  10. unclemonkey says:

    I agree, Plax’s best days are behind him with his age he is a great risk. I think if someone can sign him for pretty cheap, I would take the chance because he could be a great target in the red zone, especially when lined up inside the 10. I am a GIANTS fan and would love to see the GIANTS take a chance bringing him back because he and Eli had that great chemistry. My expectations wouldn’t be very high though.

  11. It’s a gamble but not a huge one considering someone should be able to get him for league minimum.

    It’s not like other receivers have been running all that many routes lately.

    It’ll be an interesting experiment though.

    I wonder if Vegas has an over/under line on Plaxico Burress receptions this year.

  12. Plax’s best days are behind him for sure, but he can still play, and for a discount he could be a great move for a team in need of a WR, and he can be a #2 receiver still at 34. A team like the Jets might love a big body in case they don’t re-sign Santonio Holmes or Brad Smith.

  13. Braden Doyle says:

    It does not matter how much Plax has aged, he will draw the defenders attention and stretch the field. Also, he is ONLY 34. Its not like he’s shrinking already. He will still be a big target in the end zone.

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