For many, a trip to prison is nothing more than time lost. But one NFL star discovered a great hobby while locked up.
Plaxico Burress spent 20 months in jail for accidentally shooting himself in the leg at a Manhattan nightclub. But the star receiver spent much of that time reading.
It’s a habit that has stuck with him in the months since his release.
“It was one of those deals that kind of grew on me,” Burress told Newsday. “Ever since I went to prison and in my spare time, I try to read as much as I can. Having a lot of time, I found something that became something I love to do. And that’s gather information through reading, expanding my knowledge. I never would have known that if I didn’t go through what I went through.”
Burress, who caught the game-winning touchdown in the Giants Super Bowl XLII upset of the Patriots, read a total of 82 books to help pass the time during his 86 weeks sitting alone at the Onelda Correctional Facility.
“Reading never would have been on my radar,” he told Newsday. “Now my wife comes into the room at night and I’m reading my book, she just starts laughing. It’s something that gives me peace.”
Plaxico, with 37 receptions and seven touchdowns in 13 games, is looking forward to the Jets matchup this weekend in front of zany fans in Philadelphia, but he’s most excited about catching up with his friend Michael Vick.
“If it wasn’t for him going through what he went through and coming back, maybe I wouldn’t have gotten that chance,” Burress said.
Vick and Burress talk about once a week; while Plaxico was in jail, the Eagles quarterback spoke to his family often.
As for the reading habit, Plaxico has his a certain type of written word he enjoys most. “I read autobiographies, self-improvement, a few novels,” he said. “It’s really just trying to gain knowledge and wisdom through other people’s crises and overcoming tragedy.”
Burress says in addition to his playbook and self-help books, he tries to read the Bible every day.
Plaxico Burress’ Reading List:
• “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu.
• “Uncommon” by former Colts coach Tony Dungy.
• “Freedom,” by Jonathan Franzen
• “The Autobiography of Malcolm X”
• “The Blind Side,” by Michael Lewis
• “The Alchemist,” by Paul Coelho
• “The Alchemyst,” by Michael Scott.
• “The 50th Law” by 50 Cent and Robert Greene
• “Gates of Fire” by Steven Pressfield