Plaxico Burress is accustomed to striking fear in defensive backs in the NFL. Now he’s hoping to strike some healthy fear into children regarding the danger of guns.
Burress, 33, a nine-year NFL veteran wide receiver, was released from prison last week after serving 20 months for pleading guilty to a weapons charge. In 2008, Burress carried a gun into a nightclub and accidentally shot himself in the leg.
On Monday, he issued a statement at a news conference held at the National Urban League headquarters in New York City that was organized by the NUL and Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, saying he paid a tremendous price for a bad decision, but he wants to turn his negative into a positive by speaking to kids about staying in school and away from guns.
“The main reason why I am here today is to become more active in the community and serve a greater purpose in life and to assist the youth along the way to grow up and become role models and become better people,” Burress said at the press conference.
“I know that I won’t be able to save everybody,” Burress added. “But if I can just help a child to think about the decision of carrying a firearm or making the decision not to carry one out of the home that ... saves lives in itself.”
Burress signed a pledge before the press conference to promote gun safety. He will be mentored by former NFL coach Tony Dungy – a respected Christian who helped Michael Vick turn his own career, and ultimately life, around. Dungy stood beside Burress while he spoke to the press.
“I am very excited to see Plaxico Burress becoming involved with community service and mentoring,” Dungy said in an NUL press release. “I really believe he is going to have a positive impact on many people, but especially our young people, as he focuses his efforts on helping them examine their decision making and reducing gun violence. I look forward to helping him and his family in any way I can.”
Burress appeared on ESPN’s “First Take” Monday. During the interview he admitted to missing team meetings, being tardy, being fined and arguing with Coach Tom Coughlin when he played for the New York Giants from 2005 through 2008.
“I believe that sometimes I took things for granted,” Burress told ESPN.
He wants to return to the NFL after the lockout situation is resolved. Coach Dungy is advocating his return.
“If anybody calls me, I would say I think he does have a different outlook on things,” Dungy said at the press conference. “This is not a guy that’s going to take anything for granted. He does have a passion about getting back and playing. If I were in that position, I would certainly investigate it and, if I had a need, I would definitely look at him.”