Gun-toting athletes grab headlines

December 2, 2008
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pacersyouthI am torn today. I know a story about gun-toting athletes will get readers’ attention. And with New York Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress’ recent problems, it’s timely.

Yesterday I was only slightly surprised when Don Davis, owner of locally based Don’s Guns, told the hosts of the WFNI-AM 1070 afternoon show that numerous Indianapolis Colts and Indiana Pacers players are some of his best customers. Some of the Pacers (some of which are now former or soon-to-be former Pacers), he said, were such good customers, he had their signed photos up on the wall of his store. Davis said Pacers officials asked him to take those pictures down. And Davis said he complied.

So, it’s no wonder, I thought, some of our local professional athletes and teams have image problems. It’s no surprise, I thought, that so many parents have told me they will no longer take their kids to the games. Yesterday, in fact, a new study—the second annual Turnkey Team Brand Index—came out. It showed that the Pacers brand strength isn’t very good.

But I don’t think it’s entirely fair to paint this picture and tell this tale in a vacuum. Having reported on the business of sports in central Indiana for more than a decade, I’ve gotten to know many of the people pulling the strings and pushing the buttons in the front offices of the Colts, Pacers, Indianapolis Indians and Indy Racing League. Most of them have solid intentions. And I know a strong professional sports landscape makes Indianapolis a stronger, more vibrant city. So while I must be objective in my reporting, I must admit that in my heart, I often find myself rooting for them.

No one has been more vigilant at trying to produce a solid product in the last year than the Pacers. They’re not there yet, but I mostly give them an A for effort. Yesterday, the Pacers made a “major” announcement about how the team plans to get involved first-hand in youth basketball. Quinn Buckner, the Pacers VP of communications, will head up the initiative. This should be front page news. But it barely registered.

On the other hand, I could tell you what kind of vehicle Burress arrived at the courthouse in yesterday, and what he wore. I could give you a thousand Web site addresses where you could learn all about Burress’ troubles and the issues of guns and athletes. But today, I’ve pulled my cynic’s glasses off for a moment and closed my critical eye. And I’d ask you instead to visit this site.
  • I do't care if Peyton Manning has a frequent shopper's card with Don, the issue is character and not guns. Please stop implying some sort of inherent issue with a professional athlete simply because he buys or carries a gun. The focus should be on the legality of the situation which ultimately goes back to character which then applies to everything from paying taxes to obeying traffic laws to drugs.
  • I'm wondering what you think carrying a concealed weapon in this day says about your character? I'm just asking. These weapons purchased are not used for hunting and the buyers are not police personnel. I don't want to get into a big guns rights debate here, so I'll just point out that NFL HOFer Tom Jackson said if you're carrying a concealed weapon, at some point, you're probably thinking about using it. And you don't carry a concealed weapon for target practice or to shoot skeet.
  • If you've got 10 carats of diamonds in you ears, I guess you have to have a gun to keep them. Duh.
  • The Pacers should be given some credit, though they still have work to do. But what the heck, they still can't even sell out the Lakers game.
  • I have returned! First of all, Peyton doesn't have a frequent shopper's card because of his character. He is probably one of the most recognizable athletes on the planet, yet he doesn't seem to need a gun because he doesn't hang out at the wrong places.

    There is an inherent issue in carrying a gun that is not's illegal. I guess I am being sort of hipocritical considering that I did go 10mph over the speed limit earlier, but thats neither here nor there. I agree with Matt and Tom Jackson. A concealed weapon is probably not going to be used merely for intimidation once it comes time to use it.

    Joyce has a funny point as well, but it looks like he may have to pawn those earrings before long. What an unfortunate situation that Plaxico Cheddar Bob'ed himself, but he has no one to blame but himself.

    The Pacers definitely deserve credit, and even if they did not sell out the Lakers game they did manage to hand them only their second loss of the season th. The Pacers have now beaten the Celtics and the Lakers this year. That goes to show the recent development and potential. The economy has to play some role in the ticket sales.

    Lastly, I think that the Pacers getting involved in the youth basketball of the community is a great move. Indiana already has such a strong basketball foundation, and this will only help and expand it. I think it will help the athletes, the kids, the team, and the city. It is rare to find a situation where so many involved parties seemingly win.

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