Bucs and Guns
The big story of the past few days has been Plaxico Burressí self-inflicted gunshot wound. Burress, a New York Giant wide receiver, carried a concealed firearm into a New York City nightclub and it accidentally discharged. As silly as it may sound, Burress was lucky that the bullet tore into his thigh.

Watching football all these years we have come to realize that the oblate spheroid bounces in many funny directions when it hits the ground. Well, bullets do pretty crazy things as well when discharged from a handgun the size of the street howitzer Burress was packing. Fortunately, the bullet was recovered by Burress and didnít end up being intercepted by a nearby innocent bystander.

I donít mean to be glib. I understand the United States Constitution grants citizens the right to bear arms. But we always seem to forget that with any right also comes a responsibility. Burress fully abdicated his sense of responsibility by flagrantly flaunting the law and endangering others. Bringing a concealed weapon into a public bar!?

Did he think he was in Tombstone, Arizona or Dodge City, Kansas? Burress is done playing football for the year and this may have been one of the best possible scenarios for him. At least Burress is still alive. At least Burress didnít commit involuntary manslaughter.

This column is not intended to be a holier than thou homily on the evils of handguns. I fully respect that professional athletes are targets even if they stay at home. Darrent Williams of the Broncos was killed in a drive-by shooting a couple of years ago on a public street. Last fall, Sean Taylor of the Washington Redskins was shot and killed during a break-in at his home.

Does this incident represent a plague upon the NFL? No, I donít think the NFL has a gun problem. I tend to think the United States has a gun problem but when an NFL player does something this stupid it becomes national news. Trust me, you can look in the paper of any city in the United States and sees stories of accidental discharges that leave people maimed, paralyzed or dead.

For crying out loud Vice-President Dick Cheney shot a man in the face! Of course, the man that Cheney shot apologized to the Vice-President for all the inconvenience he caused so everything was okay.

It was only a matter of time before a star athlete became involved in something similar. Congratulations Plaxico: Youíre it!

If Plaxico is smart, when he signs with the Buccaneers next year (Címon, admit it. You know you would root for him if he was in pewter.) he will also sign an endorsement contract with the National Rifle Association. I can see it now. ďHello, Iím Plaxico Burress here to tell you that guns donít end football seasons, hair triggers end football seasons.Ē

But I digress to humor on a serious topic. As a Buccaneer historian I must admit that when I heard the story of Burress a few names from the past came to my mind:

Broderick Thomas, Demetrius Dubose, Brice Hunter and Jeff Modesitt.

Broderick Thomas was a star linebacker for the Bucs in the late 80ís and early 90ís. Thomas was shot in the arm and chest in 1991 during an early morning scuffle at a Tampa Bay nightclub. Thomas was the luckiest of the four names mentioned.

Demetrius Dubose was a back-up linebacker for the Buccaneers in the early 90ís. After his playing days ended Dubose was shot and killed by the San Diego police when he was caught inside someone elseís house.

Brice Hunter was a back-up wide receiver for the Buccaneers in the late 90ís. Hunter was shot and killed by a neighbor in a dispute over loud music. Can you imagine being shot over loud music?

Jeff Modesitt was a member of the 1987 replacement Bucs during the players strike. Modesitt was shot and killed at a restaurant when an argument broke out. An argument at a Waffle House led to his death. Can you even comprehend that?

Thatís a total of four Buccaneer players negatively impacted by firearms, three of them fatally. As someone who loves history I am more than fond of the saying of George Santayana: ďThose who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.Ē

I hope that any man who plays for the Buccaneers will think of the names Thomas, Dubose, Hunter and Modesitt. I hope any man that thinks a gun is necessary for a night on the town will remember Plaxico Burress.

Denis Crawford, December 2008