The Night Plaxico Burress Accidentally Shot Himself In The Leg Sparked One Of The Strangest Sagas In NFL History

Plaxico Burress after Super Bowl

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Plaxico Burress was eight years into his NFL career when he was sentenced to 22 months in prison, which is not an ideal situation for a player to find themselves in. However, it was especially brutal when you consider it was over a crime he committed against himself in 2008 when he figuratively shot himself in the foot by literally shooting himself in the leg.

Burress hadn’t exactly had a spotless record prior to that point, but he was still doing pretty well for himself.

The man who made a name for himself as a wide receiver at Michigan State was selected by the Steelers with the eighth overall pick in the 2000 NFL Draft, and after hitting free agency in 2005, he inked a six-year, $25 million contract with the Giants.

In 2008, he played a pivotal role in helping the team shock the world by beating the undefeated Patriots in Super Bowl XLII, as the touchdown he snagged after Eli Manning connected with him with 35 seconds left in the fourth quarter capped off an upset for the ages.

However, things started to go downhill from there.

Burress started butting heads with the Giants’ front office in the offseason in search of more money; while he never followed through on his threat to hold out, he barely participated after begrudgingly showing up to mandatory OTAs and training camp.

After the season kicked off, he went A.W.O.L. for a couple of days toward the end of September and was suspended for a game as a result.

The WR had also been at the center of multiple domestic disturbance calls in August and September of that year, and while he managed to avoid any serious legal repercussions, the same can’t be said about the fateful incident that unfolded in November.

The Night Plaxico Buress shot himself

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It was November 28th, 2008 and Plaxico Burress decided to go out to LQ, a nightclub in Manhattan. He was slated to suit up when New York hosted Washington for a showdown at Giants Stadium just a couple of days later, but that didn’t stop him from deciding to hit the town with some friends.

While New York City has pretty strict anti-gun laws, they didn’t prevent Burress from deciding to go out with a Glock stashed in the pocket of his jeans. At some point during the evening, he felt the pistol moving down his leg, and when he went to reach for it, he inadvertently pulled the trigger and subsequently found himself dealing with the bullet that became lodged in his leg.

Thankfully, the wound wasn’t life-threatening, and he was quickly (and, at least initially, quietly) treated at a nearby hospital before being discharged. With that said, there was only so much a man who was supposed to play football that weekend could do to cover up the fact he’d shot himself.

It didn’t take long for the story to leak to the press, and from there, the proverbial poop hit the fan. While the hospital hadn’t initially reported the incident to the NYPD (which they were required to do by law), he was charged with criminal possession of a handgun when the story broke and turned himself in a couple of days later before being freed on a $100,000 bond.

The Giants swiftly suspended Burress without pay for the remainder of the season, although he still secured a $1 million signing bonus on a technicality after a somewhat lengthy battle.

Then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg latched onto the case thanks in no small part to the preferential treatment many people believed Burress had received thanks to his status as a star athlete in NYC.

Law enforcement officials spent months investigating the case before it was placed in front of a grand jury in the summer of 2009, and Burress avoided a trial before accepting the plea deal that led to him being officially sentenced to close to two years in prison on September 22nd of that year.

On June 6, 2011, Burress was released and ended up finding a new home with the Jets. However, he was never really able to return to his old form, and after a short stint with the Steelers, his time in the NFL came to an end after he injured his rotator cuff at training camp ahead of the 2013 campaign.

Burress has plenty of reasons to regret what unfolded that night, but to his credit, he also learned a lot from it and has done what he can to prevent other people from succumbing to a similar lapse in judgment.

He stepped into the role of a mentor after mounting a comeback and even wrote a piece for The Players’ Tribune where he warned younger players about the dangers of failing to capitalize on the opportunities that come with playing the NFL.

However, it’s hard to deny that he’ll probably be remembered for the night he shot himself over anything else.