First off, I don't like Plax. Always thought he was too full of himself, didn't work hard enough. With his size and skill set, he could've been much, much better than he was, but he was satisfied to take what came easy to him. Plus, he's thugged out. It's not a secret, especially now, and all those factors added up to both the Steelers and the Giants giving up on him, although Plaxico made the Giant's decision a little easier.
Plax came to NY and the Giants won a Super Bowl, and he was a hero. Then, he got hurt the next year, and he was a goat. Wait, sorry, he didn't get hurt. He got shot. Well, he shot himself. By accident, of course, you'd have to be an idiot to shoot yourself on purpose. Then again, you'd have to be an idiot to bring an unlicensed gun out with you as a pro athlete. And carry it yourself. In your waistband. While wearing sweatpants. And then dancing.
Seriously, it does take a leap of intellect to literally go through this thought process:
"We goin' out tonight, I'm gonna get dressed up, real fresh, kick it to some of these women, show them how that NFL money does. Yeah. I'm gonna wear sweatpants."
"People be hatin', though. And I didn't grow up easy. Now everybody knows I got money, so I have to protect myself. Athletes get robbed all the time, and I ain't goin' out like that. I roll deep with my boys, and I can afford private security, but I keep it real. I'm still me, I'll carry my own gun. In my waistband. Of my sweatpants."
"We run this club. I skip the line, skip security, nobody even checked my gun, I got bottles, VIP, the liquor is flowin', all these women want me, all these men want to be me, I'm gonna go dance. With my gun. In my waistband. Of my sweatpants."
"Yeah, this girl is feelin' me, she love feelin' that big, hard gun pressed up on her. Yeah, she can work that a...oh snap! My gun! It slipped! I gotta grab it before it hits the floor! Let me just reach down, without looking, from the outside of my sweatpants, and grab the g...I been shot! The haters shot me! From inside my own sweatpants!"
The moral, of course, is don't wear sweatpants.
I bet you thought I was going to say don't carry a gun, or put the safety on. Well, Plax is a receiver, he doesn't like safeties. And like it or not, I understand athletes owning weapons, and nothing about that is illegal. The gun wasn't hot, it was legally purchased and registered in Florida. Not registering it in NY is a conceivable oversight, interstate bureaucracy is easy to overlook. At the very least, it is an understandable slip. But it takes a damn fool to carry that gun himself, with the safety off, to a nightclub, wearing sweatpants, then dance with it in the ELASTIC waistband of the pants, then reach for it from outside your pants when it slips. Wow.
But that of course is not the point of this post. The point is the double standard of his prosecution. Mayor Bloomberg and DA Morgenthau made very public statements early in the story saying that there won't be a double standard for athletes and that they need to face the mandatory minimums the same as regular folk. An unlicensed gun is an unlicensed gun, and the law is the law. Forget that he hurt only himself and gave up his career, his millions, and his reputation. It was an unregistered weapon and the law is the law.
Fair enough. Athletes have been getting away with things that we normal folk would be jailed for as long as anyone can remember, and public sentiment was sick of it, so now times they are a changin'.
But just a few days before Plax pled guilty and got a two year prison term, another story broke in NYC, a heroic, seemingly unrelated story. Four men were robbing a restaurant supply store in Spanish Harlem that does a lot of cash business. The cashier was being pistol whipped by one of the robbers when the elderly owner of the store came from the back with an old shotgun and begged the men to just walk away. The shotgun hadn't been fired in decades. The man didn't want to hurt anyone. But the robbers didn't leave. They threatened the man and his employee, and the owner shot them, killing two. One of the dead robbers had a rap sheet a mile long. The owner saved his employee's life, according to the employee, who proceeded to kick the dead men and curse them out (he even kicked over candles that were lit for the dead the next day).
The man is a hero. Even after, he wished that it hadn't happened, and regretted that a mother and father are now without a son. He wished they had just walked away, he was remorseful, and he will live with his actions, however justified, for the rest of his life. It was self-defense, clearly, and no charges were filed against the man.
Here's the hypocrisy, and it's not a stretch. The shotgun was unregistered, unlicensed, and illegal, and it killed two people. According to the rhetoric, the law is the law, an illegal weapon fired is an illegal weapon fired, and mandatory minimums are mandatory minimums. Bloomberg and Morgenthau's hands are tied. The law is dispassionate, and charges must be filed.
Obviously, if charges had been filed, the media and the people of NYC would have gone nuts. A judge would've laughed at the case, and a jury obviously would have aquitted faster than Breet Favre changes his mind. But the rhetoric stands. The law is the law. An unregistered weapon is an unregistered weapon.
Plax wasn't denied a lesser plea deal because of the law but because of public opinion. Because he needed to be made an example of. Because politicians lie, hiding behind public opinion and crafted, manipulative rhetoric. I like Bloomberg. I don't like Plax. But really, his life is ruined, his career is over, and he shot himself. The punishment fits the crime. Give the man a few months in jail and let him go forward in shame.
Common sense has disappeared from the American lexicon, replaced by bureaucracy and intransigence. The law is there to prevent future crime as much as to punish past offense, maybe more so, and I can't imagine anyone having learned the consequences of his actions more than Plax.