Plaxico Burress was stripped of his starting role on Sunday because he missed treatments for a neck injury. A week after his explosion against coach Tom Coughlin and days after landing $45,000 in fines from the NFL, Burress had again made an issue of himself and forced the team to sacrifice talent for character when they needed both. Steve Serby of the New York Post castigated the receiver Monday and applauded the coach for sending him to the bench.
"Good for Tom Coughlin," Serby wrote. "Good for Coughlin for tightening the noose around Plaxico Burress."
That image caught the eye of Rev. Al Sharpton who went to the Post's blood rivals at the Daily News to voice his complaint.
"To make such a blatant racist statement about an African-American football player with a neck injury is completely unacceptable," Sharpton said. "Clearly, the racial connotation is very disturbing. ... This is the verbal reflection of a hanging noose."
Sharpton said he'd take unspecified further action if the Post didn't apologize. The News tried to reach Burress's agent Drew Rosenhaus for a comment but their calls weren't returned. Neither Serby nor his newspaper have had any comment.
There's a difference between a poor choice of words and what Sharpton calls a "media lynching." White, black and Latino players have all suffered criticism from columnists for putting self before team. I can't imagine that Serby meant to draw such a racially charged allusion, although words like noose should always give writers pause given their historical symbolism. It's pretty clear from the rest of the column, however, what his intent was, calling Burress out for selfish behavior, and that should matter when deciding how outraged to get about something.