How Far Can “Talent” Take You?

It’s been said that talent can take you very far in this life. It can lead to riches, fame and immortality. However, it can also save you from trouble, punishment and perhaps even death. Talent is the makeup that covers the blemishes – personal and professional.

I bring up talent because a very talented football player finds himself on the verge of being sent to jail … and perhaps seeing the end to a promising career. Plaxico Burress is no stranger to Steeler fans. The tall, lanky receiver arrived here in 2000 full of promise and possibilities. Sure, he took his share of lumps but he also became a top target for Ben Roethlsiberger and now, Eli Manning. He even caught the winning pass in last year’s Super Bowl.

Super Bowl Giants Football

Plaxico Burress: A talented athlete but that may not be enough to get him out of this lastest mess.

But in the last few years, Burress has gotten himself involved a series of off-field incidents in New York which caused him to miss practice time. Plaxico’s problems have now snowballed with the incident in New York in which he accidentally shot himself in the leg with a concealed loaded gun. If guilty, he could be in prison for the next three years.

This is not a sports blog. This is a blog about people with talent, like Plaxico, who do dumb things ( and carrying a gun illegally into a bar is a dumb thing ) and put themselves in compromising positions. Whether it’s former NFL quarterback Michael Vick and dogfighting or former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer and prostituion, it seems we continue to witness these tales of people with talent wasting it by doing idiotic things.

Perhaps they hope thier talent and ability will allow them a free pass as it has many times in the past. After all, we do live in a society which for years has overlooked the academic performance of many athletes as long as they performed on the field. The same is true of those in the world of business. Remember the mortgage banking mess? None of the decision makers were held accountable as long as the value of homes continued to rise and people could still make the minimum payments.

But talent can only take you so far. At some point, people look beyond what you can do and begin to look at who you are. If you are a person who failings begin to eclipse your achievements, then you are in trouble no matter how talented you are.

I hope Plaxico’s predicament is a lesson to all those with talent … a gift that is not given to all and should not be wasted. I think the immortal words of author Stan Lee in “Spiderman”:

“With great power comes great responsibility”.

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