It was hard to miss the connection between the pregame ceremony at FedEx Field on Sunday and what happened to Plaxico Burress on Friday night. Redskin safety Sean Taylor was inducted into the Redskins Ring of Honor before the game with the Giants. Taylor was shot in the leg a year ago and died because the wound severed an artery. Burress was also shot in the leg but he was lucky and will live to play another day.
The difference, of course, is that Burress shot himself while Taylor was murdered by home invaders in his Miami bedroom. He's not the only NFL player to find himself at the mercy of gun-toting criminals. Giants wide receiver Steve Smith was held up at gunpoint in front of his home last week, an incident that may have been on Burress' mind when he decided to take an unlicensed gun with him to a nightclub.
The Taylor murder has influenced other members of the Giants. Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Ward told the Daily News that they keep guns in their homes to protect themselves and their families. "If I am out in the streets, I don't have anything to do with that," Jacobs said. "But at my house, where I have my wife and son there ..."
Clearly there's a big difference between keeping a gun at home and bringing one out with you at night, especially when such a weapon is properly licensed. There's no question, though, that when athletes go out at night they can become targets. They can be followed home and robbed, as in the case of Knicks center Eddy Curry, or can be jumped right on the street.
It's easy to say that guns beget bad outcomes, because they do. It's much harder to tell someone that just because they play professional sports they aren't allowed to go out at night. They're still human, still can feel threatened and many of us would respond the same way. That doesn't excuse anything that happened when Plaxico went to the Latin Quarter, but it makes it a little easier to understand how he got there in the first place.