One man went to prison and learned from his mistakes. The other went to prison and may not have changed at all. Or very little. He still seems unaware of just how stupid he was.
I've seen Mike Vick. Interviewed him. Stood a few feet away and examined him. Vick committed acts of horror and went to Leavenworth, which is hell, not a prison. Yet it's obvious to anyone with a discerning eye, Vick is a new human being. Prison made him a better man. It's as apparent as his speed.
But Plaxico Burress? I'm not so sure. Not after an interview he gave to HBO's Real Sports, which airs this week in which he appeared to be the same old Plaxico.
"I don't take no [expletive] from nobody," Burress said about his perceived public image. "You got earn my respect as a person. You got love for me. I got love for you."
|When told of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's hardened stance against him, Burress responded, 'Who is Mayor Bloomberg?' (US Presswire)|
You can see the differences between perhaps the most well-known ex-cons since O.J. -- and what each has learned.
Vick has learned humility. Now, don't confuse this with kowtowing. There's a difference. Neither Vick nor Burress should bootlick. But every interview I've seen Vick do, including those in which I've participated, Vick strikes the right balance between redemption and pride.
Burress is different. The HBO interview shows a player oblivious to the judicial system and world around him -- and more. He didn't even fake attempting to hide the fact he believed his celebrity would get him off the gun charge. Sure, Burress didn't deserve prison time and certainly the mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, can be highly arrogant himself. The fact Burress spent two years in jail is a disgrace.
But Burress -- then and now -- made Bloomberg's job easy. Burress told HBO that when his lawyer informed him that Bloomberg's hardened position was going to cause Burress serious problems, Burress responded, "Who's Mayor Bloomberg?"
That type of ignorance continued throughout Burress' dealings with the judicial system. Burress didn't deserve prison, but I can understand why he did time. He never took what happened seriously, believing his name would shield him. He gave Bloomberg and the legal system his middle finger and the system bit back.
Fast forward to now and that HBO interview. There are glimpses of him maybe getting it. "To be living in that cell 16-17 hours a day, you go from being able to do just about anything that you want to do, to basically putting you in a cage, putting you in a box," Burress said. "It'll get your attention."
But did it really? In other moments Burress doesn't seem nearly so contrite or that he's learned from those humiliating days.
"I don’t take [expletive] from nobody."
I get the feeling Burress would make the same type of mistakes today he made then. The kind of mistakes people make who think they are untouchable and I'm beginning to believe Burress still thinks he's untouchable.
Maybe I'm wrong, but it's difficult when we have Vick as a comparison. Vick and Burress are two freakish talents who once thought the rules didn't apply to them. Vick's transgressions were far more severe, but so was the fall. The subsequent comeback is one of the great turnaround stories we've ever seen in sports.
Burress' story is still being written, but I'm concerned his ending won't be as tidy as Vick's appears so far. I'm worried we haven't seen the last of Burress not taking (expletive) from anyone.