Kallas Remarks by Steve Kallas


It wasn’t really anything earth-shattering when the New York Post reported on Monday that Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau stated that “We’ve always taken the position that he’s [Plaxico Burress] going to have to go to jail, whether by trial or by plea.”  As with Mayor Bloomberg’s “prosecute him to the fullest extent of the law” comments, however, the timing of it all is a little strange.  But when you look at the recent history of the now-tougher New York gun laws, nothing in here is surprising at all.




Readers of this column (see Kallas Remarks, 11/30/08) have read this before, but the main and simple charge against Plaxico is criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree.  That law states:


“A person is guilty of criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree when

          … (3) such person possesses any loaded firearm.”


 There’s an exception for possession at your home or business that doesn’t apply to Burress, who carried a loaded firearm into a New York City nightclub and shot himself during Thanksgiving weekend last November. 


The problem, of course, unbeknown to Plaxico and most people at the time, is that, with a big push from Mayor Bloomberg, the gun laws were changed in 2006 to make the above law a Class C felony.  Previously, the exact same behavior was deemed a Class D felony and could often be pleaded down to a misdemeanor and little or no jail time.  To specifically stop that from happening, it was made a Class C felony (with a mandatory minimum three-and-a-half year jail sentence) with the Manhattan District Attorney’s office having a general policy that if it did allow a defendant to plead down, it would be to a Class D felony (with a mandatory minimum of two years jail time) and not to a misdemeanor.


And therein lies the jail time problem for Burress.




Well, despite all the legal wrangling, it pretty much leaves him where he’s been all along: staring at a minimum of two years in jail.  As was also recently discussed in this column (Kallas Remarks, 6/20/09), Plaxico’s Plan B was probably to try and play one more year for a big payday by putting off his trial until early next year.  But the big hurdle, what NFL commissioner Goodell would do in terms of a suspension, seems to have cooled that plan (as previously discussed in the prior column, it seems hard to believe that the NFL would let Plaxico play with this thing hanging over his head).


While that may be unfair (is Burress innocent until proven guilty or vice-versa?), it seems very unlikely that Burress will be allowed to play this season.  With apparently no offers yet (the silence from NFL teams speaks volumes), you have to think that the word is out that the NFL won’t let him play this year.  But we’ll see what happens on that front.




Well, you have to think that’s coming down the pike.  It’s relatively easy to indict someone and this is a pretty simple case (remember, no intent to hurt someone or anything like that is needed under this law – you commit the crime by simply possessing a loaded firearm).  It seems possible that top lawyer Ben Brafman was doing his best to resolve the case for Plaxico with a minimum amount of jail time – maybe one year or less.  But, again, due to the change in the law, it’s always seemed that Burress would have to do two years – the mandatory minimum if one pleads to a Class D felony (one step down from what he’s charged with).




Pierce, if he testifies truthfully in the grand jury about what he knew and saw (at some point, obviously, Pierce knew that Burress had a loaded firearm), would be off the hook for any potential (New York) charges.  While DA Morgenthau played it coy with the Post (“I’m not going to get into that” when the Post asked him whether Burress alone would face gun charges), this would seem to be the classic case of a person with much lesser involvement testifying as to what he knew and saw thus getting immunity (if he testifies truthfully). 


It’s hard to believe that Antonio Pierce would potentially hurt his own career and not tell the truth, especially now that Plaxico is no longer a Giant.




It’s great that Ben Brafman is quoted in the Post as saying “Now that they [the DA’s office] have drawn a line in the sand, this is going to be a battle.”  But, right now, the battle appears to be one-sided.  While Brafman, at trial, will only have to convince one juror that Plaxico didn’t do the crime, that may be very difficult to accomplish.  But Burress does have the lawyer who got P Diddy off against all odds in his gun possession trial.  So maybe lightning can strike twice.


But it says here that’s a real longshot.       


© Copyright 2008 by Steve Kallas.  All rights reserved. 


                               Kallas Remarks by Steve Kallas


It would be very difficult to call the last few years of the New York Giants the Plaxico Burress Era.  But everyone understands what a huge factor Burress has been for the Giants.  What he did last year against the Packers (11 catches for 154 yards on the road on a cold day in the playoffs), his Super Bowl-winning catch against the unbeatable Patriots and his ability to draw double teams on numerous plays in virtually every game is something that will not be replaced by any receiver on this Giants team.

Having said that, the Giants fined him here and looked the other way there, suspended him for a game, but always with THEIR eye on the prize – a Super Bowl victory.  The Giants and their fans got just that; Burress got his ring and his money – and he still never saw the light.


So the Giants, on Tuesday (this is being written on Wednesday evening), have essentially cut ties with Plaxico. Despite a staged plea by his agent on Monday Night Football and, despite a more appropriate plea by his lawyer, Ben Brafman (innocent until proven guilty, let the legal process continue, etc.), the Giants and their fans had had enough and you won’t see Burress in a Giants uniform this season or, probably, ever again.  Mayor Bloomberg piling on certainly didn’t help Burress either.




Well, it’s true that the Giants have won this season without Burress.  The problem, of course, is that Burress is such a threat in a big game and the Giants may miss him most in a huge game.  It’s not hard to picture a playoff game, Giants down six late in the game, down near the opponent’s goal line and, when they can’t punch it in on the ground, who’s going to catch that fade or jump ball that Eli throws up in the corner of the end zone?  That’s, potentially, a season-ending problem.


Or, late in the game, the Giants have to march 80 yards and Eli, in trouble, essentially throws it up for grabs.  If you’ve got Plaxico Burress or Randy Moss or not too many other receivers, you’ve at least got a fighting chance.  But without the 6’5” receiver to go up and catch poor throws or prayer throws or throws up for grabs over those smaller DBs, what’s going to happen?


Can the Giants win the Super Bowl without Plaxico?  Absolutely.  But, until that happens, there may very well be, in a close playoff game, that key moment where he won’t be there.  And that could spell disaster.




You’d like to think that he will be there.  Whatever he did, it certainly seems that he didn’t know that Burress had a gun.  While the police are livid that NFL Security didn’t bring Pierce in as promised, once Pierce got smart and got a lawyer, he wasn’t going to speak to anyone until his lawyer is ready to bring him in.  NFL Security doesn’t represent Pierce.  So the notion that they could “produce” Pierce for a meeting with the NYPD was ridiculous on this fact pattern.


It does seem that Pierce’s lawyer should be able to work something out where he tells the truth and no charges are brought against him.  The problem in the Giants locker room could have eventually had Pierce pitted against Burress.  The Giants, well aware of this, ended that problem by, essentially, cutting Burress loose.




Well, this was a profitable deal for both sides until this past weekend.  The Giants already have one (minor miracle) Super Bowl and still might be the favorite in another.  Their road to the Super Bowl and winning another one would have been easier on the field with Burress.  But this year (fines, suspensions, missed this meeting, late for that, take my kid to school, etc.,etc.) went from the ridiculous to the sublime when he shot himself over the weekend.


Even if the Giants had plans to deal with all the absurdity and distractions (and it seemed that they did) before this weekend, their plans went up in smoke on the East Side of Manhattan early Saturday morning.


So the era of Plaxico, as it were, officially ended today.  Unfortunately for him, his error is going to negatively hurt him and his family (and others) for days, weeks, months and, probably, years.


© Copyright 2008 by Steve Kallas.  All rights reserved.