By Teresa Ambord
NFL wide receiver Plaxico Burress needs a good financial advisor . . . or a team of them. He seems to be his own worst enemy, with a long track record of self-inflicted wounds – financial, physical, and behavioral – followed by a career-crashing stint in prison. Then again, he just landed a new NFL contract for nearly $1 million and promptly paid off an IRS lien. So maybe there's hope for this renegade.
Here's what happened.
Burress was once riding high as a top receiver for the New York Giants, with a six-year, $25 million contract. In 2007, he caught seventy passes for 1,025 yards and had a career-high twelve touchdowns, according to the New York Post. The following season when the Giants went to the Super Bowl against the New England Patriots, Burress caught the winning touchdown.
On the field, he was a winner, but in private life, his decision-making ability was less well developed. Like that night in November 2008 when he visited a Manhattan nightclub wearing sweatpants. Some people said that was the true crime, wearing sweatpants to go clubbing in New York, but it was what was inside the sweatpants that got him in trouble. Tucked in the waistband, he carried a loaded, .40 caliber Glock pistol. As the night wore on, the gun began to slide down. He grabbed for it, it fired, and he shot himself in the leg. Giants career . . . over.
To make matters worse, just a couple of months earlier, the Giants had extended his contract for $35 million. Because of the shooting incident, they suspended him for the final four games of the season, costing him $2 million in income and resulting in grievances filed with the NFL Players Association.
After pleading guilty to weapons charges, he spent the next two years in prison.
With his income gone and two years' of incarceration ahead of him, Burress and his wife, Tiffany, probably regretted another earlier bad decision. In spite of their multimillion-dollar income, their long history of financial irresponsibility included not paying all the federal and state taxes they owed.
Burress did his time, then returned to the NFL with a one year deal to play for the New York Jets beginning in August 2011. Meanwhile, the IRS filed a lien against him for $98,064 related to his 2007 and 2009 income. In summer 2012, the state of New York piled on a lien for $59,241 relating to his 2007 income.
In spite of a successful comeback playing for the Jets, when the one year deal ended, the summer of 2012 found him unemployed again. For a while, it looked like no NFL team wanted to touch him. Then, after two Pittsburgh Steelers were injured last fall, the team re-signed Burress for the veteran minimum of $925,000. It's not the kind of money he's used to, but it paid off the IRS lien, which was released on January 8, 2013.
Now he just has to deal with the New York State tax lien. Oh, and then there's the matter of an accident lawsuit for which he owes $159,000. That judgment came after he rear-ended a Florida woman while he was driving uninsured. His insurance was canceled after he failed to pay the premiums.
It's likely that none of Burress' reckless tales of woe surprises anyone who knows him. According to the Associated Press, he joined the NFL in 2000 and has been sued at least nine times since then, counting the accident, the tax lawsuits, and miscellaneous debts that he could afford but just didn't pay. The list of angry creditors goes on and on and on. In his hometown of Virginia Beach, Virginia, the police are quite familiar with Plaxico Burress, probably more for his lawless behavior than his sports stardom. He has been:
- Fined for reckless driving, a noise violation, and public intoxication.
- Threatened with arrest for not appearing in court and for speeding.
- Visited by the local police on domestic dispute charges (but his wife eventually dropped the charges).
Stretching back for years before his prison stint, Plaxico and Tiffany blazed a long trail of bad financial affairs – deals made but not paid, bills ignored in spite of a high income, two years of delinquent property tax that nearly cost them their home in Virginia Beach. Creditors say Burress is a pain to work with and getting paid usually means going to court, but in the end, they say, he does pay up.
Now that he has a second chance with the NFL, it does seem like the Burresses may be trying to clean up their act. But they're sadly in need of a good team of financial advisors. Anybody want to volunteer? The fees are probably lucrative considering the amount of help they need. Just be sure to get paid up front.
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