Burress Reignites Issue Of Athletes & Guns

New York Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress arrives at a police station, Monday, Dec.1, 2008, in New York. Burress was expected to be charged after accidentally shooting himself in the right thigh. Burress shot himself at a Manhattan nightclub Friday night and was released from a hospital early Saturday, the Giants said. (AP Photo/ Louis Lanzano)
AP Photo/Louis Lanzano
Football star Plaxico Burress is free on bail after being charged today with weapons possession in New York. Burress accidentally shot himself at a nightclub last week. Now, he could face prison time, and possibly lose a chunk of his $35 million contract. As CBS News chief investigative correspondent Armen Keteyian reports, Burress is just the latest athlete to get in trouble - over guns.

For the New York Giant wide receiver Plaxico Burress, his game-winning catch in last season's Super Bowl stood as the highlight of a big-play career marred by a me-first attitude, suspensions and fines.

Monday, Burress was back in the limelight, surrendering to authorities at a Manhattan police station. it's the latest twist in a bizarre shooting scandal that has set the tabloids aflame and re-ignited the issue of athletes and guns.

"Mr. Burress is a serious professional athlete in a difficult legal situation, and he intends to handle it in a responsible fashion," said his attorney, Benjamin Brafman.

For Burress, it began inside a New York nightclub late last Friday night when - believe it or not - he accidentaly shot himself through the thigh with a semi-automatic pistol.

According to published reports, Burress was carrying the unlicensed weapon for protection. The gun went off after it began slipping down the inside of his sweatpants, and Burress fumbled while trying to reach it.

A bleeding Burress then reportedly tried to cover it all up, frantically passing the pistol off to teammate Antonio Pierce and enlisting club employees not to alert authorities before checking into New York Presbyterian hospital under an assumed name at 2:45 a.m.

In the last three years, more than two dozen professional athletes have been involved in gun-related charges. Attorney David Cornwell has represented several of them.

"Certainly they find themselves in situations where there's a potential for risk, whether or not that necessarily follows to the need to carry a gun, I think that's a personal decision," Cornwall said.

Burress, who today pleaded not guilty to felony charges of criminal possession of a handgun, reportedly joked about the shooting with a teammate. But there's nothing funny about a potential sentence of up to seven years in prison, or the end of a star-crossed career.