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Summer Explains it All: Jail Time for Dummies

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Summer Explains it All: Jail Time for Dummies

Any of you following the NFL might have been slightly shocked when the details of Plaxico Burress’ sentence became public.  Even I was surprised by the severity of his sentence, and I’ve been watching NFL players tango with the (in)justice system since well before, um, Ray Lewis?  For those of you who have not diligently observed the latest parade of black (American) footballers marching from locker room  to lock down, here’s what happened: Plaxico Burress, former wide receiver for the New York (football) Giants and quasi-legend of Super Bowl XLII (he caught the game-winning touchdown and predicted a Giants win) turned himself in to authorities in December 2008 for unlawful possession of a handgun.  According to reports, in November 2008, Burress, though not licensed to carry a firearm in New York City, brought a gun with him to a New York City nightclub.  While on his way to the VIP section of the club, Burress accidentally shot himself in the leg.  Burress then checked into the hospital under an alias (he claims someone else registered him under an assumed name); though the hospital was required by law to notify police when treating the result(s) of a shooting, it was never reported, and NYPD wasn’t aware of the situation until it became news.  Unlawfully carrying a firearm in New York City is very, very illegal.  Consequently, Burress was indicted on two weapons charges.  Due to NYC’s mandatory minimums for unlawful gun possession, Burress’ lawyers reached a plea deal, and last week he was sentenced to two years in prison.

Damn.  Burress got two years for accidentally shooting himself–and this was the result of a plea deal.  And Burress is rich!  So much so that he’s hired a prison consultant (another example of white folks making up their own jobs) to let him know what life in the slammer will be like.  Dude, Dante Stallworth served 30 days for killing somebody else; Burress has to serve at least 20 months of his sentence–for putting a hole in his leg.  Maybe homeboy should’ve hired a differnt lawyer.

I know, I know, I know.  New York gun laws are harsher than a sandpaper diaper.  And Mayor Bloomberg made it pretty clear that he wanted Burress to become the poster boy for, well, stupidly bringing a gun up in the club and shooting one’s self.  Still, two years seems a bit austere, especially for someone who could post $100,000 bail, no problem.  So I thought: How did that happen?  What has the world come to when folks can’t buy their way out of jail time?  And then, though I suck at math, I started calculating things, and came up with what I call “The 24-Month Formula: How Plaxico Got Locked Up for Being a Sucka.”

Here’s how (I imagine) the sentence was determined:

  1. Scrabble, anyone? P-L-A-X-I-C-O.  That’s 18 points, plus 50 points for using all your tiles. No points for double or triple word scores.  Let’s not get greedy.  Total: 68 months.
  2. Wait, I forgot something! In his E:60 interview, Burress said his teammate, Antonio Pierce asked him for a lift to the club (Go green!  Carpool!).  Pierce lives in the same complex where another teammate, Steve Smith was robbed.  Burress said this fact compelled him to go back home and pick up his heat.  With New York traffic, illegally parking (with the hazards on), and running upstairs to the crib, my guess is that put him off schedule, say, -40 minutes.  He might’ve missed the no cover before 10, but it’s always fashionable to show up at the club late.  Total: 28 months.
  3. So much for elasticity. Burress just put the gat in his waistband.  He didn’t bother with a holster.  Besides, how seriously can you take a dude who puts his nine in a holster? Real gangsters aren’t afraid to put the steel right next to the jewels.  Holsters are for mark ass busters!  I’m guessing Burress realized he’d forgotten the gun’s jacket, and had to decide whether or not to leave the gun naked.  Obviously, he opted to leave the holster at home.  The time it took to come to that conclusion?  Well, Burress is a wide receiver, and in general only two other positions score lower than WRs on the Wondelic.  So, let’s say, +5 minutes.  Total: 33 months.
  4. Party like a rock star. Burress probably left parking to the valets, but he had to go through security.  According to Burress, he got patted down by the bouncers and went the metal detectors.  Bypassing the club line + having a gun (and security doesn’t care) + passing the velvet rope? -10! Total: 23 months.
  5. Super Bowl shuffle. Burress and the homies couldn’t chill with the common folk because they’re celebrities and Super Bowl heroes.  New York loves you forever!  Burress did catch a touchdown during the big game and predicted a Giants win, though the then-undefeated Patriots were a heavy favorite.  Plax is no David Tyree, but he did make the game-winning catch.  Nice.  -20 points. Total: 3 months.
  6. Watch your step. Burress trips on the way to the VIP section.  Not a good look for wide receivers, who are known for their deft footwork on the sidelines.  +5. Total: 8 months.
  7. Better safe(ty) than sorry! I’m not Beyonce, but something tells me that if I were a boy (who liked to put guns in my waistband), I’d be sure the safety was on.  Just in case, well, you know.  Obviously, Burress didn’t do that.  +5.  Total: 13 months.
  8. Butter fingers.  Burress said he felt the gun slip, and tried to keep it from falling.  Instead, he pulled the trigger.  Nice catch.  Maybe this is why the Giants were so unwilling to renegotiate your contract.   +2 months. Total: 15 months.
  9. Good aim! But you didn’t shoot anyone else, Plax.  Way to go.  -1. Total: 14
  10. In the immortal words of Biggie Smalls: Niggas Bleed. Burress said he didn’t realize he shot himself until he saw blood on his Chuck Taylors.  Dude, that’s a gun shot wound.  Plax, I know you’re a football player, but if you spent most of the 2007 season not practicing because of an ankle injury, how do you expect folks to believe you didn’t know you shot yourself until you saw your own blood?  Unless you lathered your thighs in novacaine, you’re a big fat incarcerated liar.  Or were you under the influence of drugs?  If so, that would explain numbers 2-9.  Either way, that’s +3. Total: 17 months.
  11. What’s in a name? Burress says someone else checked him into the hospital under the name Harris Smith.  His explanation of why it was impossible that he came up with the pseudonym is paper thin (+4), but it’s a much better alias than Ron Mexico (-2).  Total: 19 months.
  12. Have you updated your shot records? Burress had a gun license (-6), but it was a Florida license (+2).  An expired Florida gun license (+4). Total: 19 months.
  13. Knowledge is power. Unless it’s a Super Soaker, if you’re going to carry a gun, please know the rules and regulations of the environment in which you plan to carry.  +5. Total: 24 months.
  14. Learning that if you’re going to shoot yourself you better do it in a place like Texas? Priceless.

Please note: though we are glad that a black man–and not a fellow coworker–shot himself this time, these kinds of antics will not lead to beer at the White House.  Watch and learn.  How was my math?