Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Burress Hasn't Grown From MSU Days

The first time I saw Plaxico Burress play, it was obvious to everyone he was going to be a very special player.
It was just the spring game at Michigan State, but he dominated it to the point it was breathtaking. He was a great player for the Spartans, but after that spring game, I thought he was going to be even better than he turned out. It’s not only he is bigger and faster than just about every other player, but stronger. Fast as a cornerback. Sure-handed as a possession receiver. Strong as a linebacker - and some defensive linemen. A man among boys. On the field.
It was also evident back then that there were some deportment issues. Just talking to Burress after games, something just wasn’t right. One second, he’d be fine. The next, it was as if he was trying to prove he was above it all by being difficult.
There are few people around him at the time surprised he has run into trouble since leaving MSU, the latest and most serious issue being shooting himself in the thigh with handgun at a night club.
He had to go to prep school for a year before Nick Saban could get him into MSU. That was an era when Saban took a lot of chances with players. Hubert "Boo, Boo" Thompson was rated as the top defensive lineman in the country when he was recruited by Saban, but struggled academically and was obviously out of place on a college campus. Last summer he was declared not mentally fit to stand trail for allegedly tossing a 66-year-old man off a balcony to his death in 2007.
Thompson never had an impact for the Spartans. Burress did. They won 10 games in 1999 largely because of Burress. It’s their most wins and highest final ranking (seventh) since the salad days of the mid-1960s.
Taking "risks" for college and NFL teams is part of the business. Burress can’t be too despised in New York. He was arguably the Giants’ best player and did catch the winning pass in the last Super Bowl. It just makes you wonder sometimes if it is worth it when superior athletic ability meets character issues. A lot of risk. Much reward. Perpetual headache.

Random Thoughts

- The Tigers will have numerous candidate to win baseball’s Comeback Player of the Year award, but the best bet in my opinion is Jeremy Bonderman. He was injured relatively early in the season and could bounce back quickly.

- Sean Avery’s comments about his former girlfriend Elisha Cuthbert dating Calgary defenseman Dion Phaneuf were bizarre. The league suspended Avery - and it was justified because the comments were clearly sexist. The man’s need to call attention to himself takes on a different meaning and is a cry for help. The NHL shouldn’t just suspend him. They should get him the help he needs. It’s one of the reasons the Red Wings unloaded him when he was a young player, despite the considerable promise he displayed on the ice. Avery has special talents that fit a definite niche. Too bad wastes such grit with his strange behavior. It’s one thing to be chippy, another to be over-the-top and strange.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know I will be in the minority on the Plexico Burress incident but I feel this is totally overblown. People are being very hypocritical here. Americans LOVE their guns! Over 1/2 the population owns them and a whole lot of people carry guns on their persons when out and about. I guarantee you a lot of high profile athletes carry guns. I am not justifying it but it amazes me that Burress is being crucified for engaging in an activity that most male Americans approve of. No doubt, he was stupid for risking his livilihood and career by carrying it without a permit in New York. No doubt he is a bungler for shooting himself. But guns in America are as American as apple pie. By the way how come the NRA isn't rushing to his defense and supporting his right to bear arms? Just asking.

7:06 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

That's an interesting view on it, one I'm not sure all that many have thought about. But why couldn't he get the permit? I think that's the issue here.

9:45 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As much as I've rooted for Bondo, since his rookie season, I don't think he has much more upside potential. He may recover fully physically, but I don't think the mental part of his game (1st inning phobia), or his command will ever let him be better than just an ok 3rd starter. I hope I'm wrong. Dave

3:46 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

I understand your point, but he will be entering what is considered his prime years as a player. It wouldn't surprise me if he refines his pitches - if he is healthy.

1:41 PM 

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