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.

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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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