Colin Dunlap: If This Is The End, Thanks Plex
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If this is the end, Mr. Plaxico Burress, thanks.
Thanks for always being a story.
Good, bad, quirky, criminal or indifferent, it seems from the time Burress was drafted by the Steelers in the first round in 2000, he has perpetually been in the news.
And, sadly, it might be coming to an end.
Burress, who turns 36 on Monday, will get a bummer of a birthday present, as he will undergo shoulder surgery on the same day for an injury sustained at preseason camp. It could, very well, be the death knell for a career where the lanky receiver has caught almost 8,500 yards worth of passes.
But, with Plex, that’s always been just half the story.
In just his fourth NFL game, no one will forget one of the most unforgettable moments that was, well … so Plex.
The Steelers had opened 0-3 on the season and traveled to Jacksonville.
With his team holding a 24-6 lead, Burress pulled in a 19-yard pass and fell to the ground untouched.
Inexplicably, Burress hopped to his feet and vehemently spiked the football in celebration.
It was a fumble.
It was Jacksonville’s ball.
It was, well … so Plex.
Luckily for the Steelers — and Burress — they held on to win that game 24-13.
The moment was, however, one of the first that showed us all here in Pittsburgh that you could never know exactly what to expect from Burress, a guy with a beaming smile and ever-engaging personality, but an uncanny ability to seemingly always be in the news.
With Burress playing for the Steelers (2000-04, ’12-present), Giants (2005-08) and Jets (2011) to this point in a career that could be coming to a close, certainly no one will argue the occurrence that pushed him to most fame.
In November of 2008, while a member of the Giants, Plex suffered an accidental, self-inflicted gunshot wound when the pistol he was carrying in a nightclub went off. He was jailed, his football career put on hold.
It was so Plex.
There was that time at the tail end of the 2004 season when his home got robbed. While on a roadtrip with the Steelers to Buffalo, three crooks knocked Plex’s place off for over $60,000 in jewelry, cash and other items.
Only that kind of stuff happens to Plex.
Seriously, it was so Plex.
Hey, Plaxico — Thanks also for providing us with a chuckle when the cops decided to give you a ticket on Christmas Eve of 2002 up in Cleveland (we all hate Cleveland) for having an open bottle of Corona. Beside the fact that Corona isn’t much of a winter brew, what the heck were you doing partying in Cleveland, anyway?
But here is where the story gets so Plex. He didn’t read the fine print on the innocuous ticket, an arrest warrant was issued for Plex when he didn’t appear in court thereafter and a very minor thing — a bottle of Corona in wintertime — grew into a news story. He ended up taking care of everything, but not before Cleveland Court officials were quoted in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, making 12 ounces of beer seem like a federal offense.
“The likelihood of his being arrested if he comes back to Cleveland is pretty likely if he doesn’t take care of this,” an official told the newspaper at the time.
Yes, so Plex.
So was the party Plex threw in the Strip District in November of 2001, when Browns receiver Gerald Warren was cited for having an illegal firearm.
It was so Plex, you know, that something of news value would emanate from that party.
There is more to it, though, and not all bad. Burress was excused from practice while with the Jets in November of 2011. When it was asked where he was, the organization confirmed he was handing out turkeys to low-income families during the Thanksgiving season.
Was it probation mandated from that gun charge? Who knows, but it was so Plex. Only Plex.
Same with that monster truck he used to drive around — so Plex.
For a few years I lived on the North Shore, not far from Plex and would see him driving his gargantuan truck, the one that was akin to the Loch Ness Monster — reputedly large, but seldom seen, stuff of legend.
One day I was walking near the Andy Warhol Museum and saw Plex driving the massive rig. He was stopped at a light and, for fun, I motioned my hand up and down to signify for him to sound the brash horn.
It blasted through the sky, echoing what must have been 15 blocks.
On cue, a baby in a stroller waiting to cross the street with his mother next to me began to cry loudly as the mother, not expecting the noise, jumped about 8 feet.
It was so Plex. The scene was out of a comedy film.
Plex looked out the window and shrugged with a smile.
The mother turned to me and snarled something about the guy in the truck being a showoff.
I smiled, but she might have been right.
Plex might be a bit of a showoff.
But he is our showoff.
And he always seemed to be a story.
If this is the end of his career, I know I will certainly miss it. All of it.
Colin Dunlap is a featured columnist at CBSPittsburgh.com. He can also be heard weeknights from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Sports Radio 93-7 “The Fan.” You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out his bio here.