Plaxico Burress was a big time professional wide out. He was big, physical, had great hands and punished defenders. He was also fearless in the way he went across the middle in traffic. That 2007 – 2008 season when he took the cake with the Giants was magical. Plaxico had one of his best seasons as a pro with 70 catches for over 1,000 yards. In the post-season he was the best player in the league – one could also argue Michael Strahan. Oftentimes Eli Manning simply threw the ball up and the 6’6″ Burress went in got it. Burress’ performance in the playoffs at Lambeau field, in freezing weather was one of the gutsiest performances I have ever seen from a wide out .. and I’m a football junkie.
However, Plaxico’s heroics went unnoticed because he was black. The New York media preferred to shower all of the attention on the Eli Manning, Eli’s brother Peyton and his father Archie. Burress will not be remembered for that season he put the Giants offense on hit back. He will likely be most-remembered for shooting himself in the leg at NYC’s Latin Quarter the very next year. Given the media white bias, it was more than willing to shower Plaxico with accolades after the shooting incident. According to Shock Exchange: How Inner-City Kids From Brooklyn Predicted the Great Recession and the Pain Ahead, New York mayor Michael Bloomberg made Burress the poster boy for a third term:
When New York Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress accidentally shot himself inside the Latin Quarter, Bloomberg jumped into action. In November 2008 Burress was carrying an unregistered handgun when the gun discharged, shooting him in the thigh. He later said he was afraid for his safety after one of his teammates had been robbed at gunpoint a week earlier. Bloomberg held a press conference the day after the shooting and guaranteed New Yorkers that he would personally see that Burress received the maximum jail time possible under the law.
Bloomberg’s fear tactics and personal crusade to end the “under-policing of black men” might have sealed his illegal third term. It also marked the death knell of Burress’ football career.
Plaxico was sentenced to two years in prison 10 months after the shooting incident – a lifetime for a pro ball player. Her returned to the gridiron with the Jets in 2011, but his career quickly fizzled out.
Allergan – “Pharma’s Plaxico Burress”?
Pharmaceutical giant Allergan has also been in the spotlight recently. Allergan’s top-selling dry eye treatment, Restasis, is under siege from generics manufacturers. Mylan, Teva, and Pfizer want to offer generic Restasis, but Allergan has sued them in court for alleged patent infringement. Last month the company put out a bombastic press release saying it had sold the patents to the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe:
Allergan plc (NYSE: AGN), a leading global pharmaceutical company, and the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe today announced that the Tribe now owns all Orange Book-listed patents for RESTASIS® (Cyclosporine Ophthalmic Emulsion) 0.05%, and that Allergan has been granted exclusive licenses in the patents related to the product. The Tribe, a recognized sovereign tribal government, is filing a motion to dismiss the ongoing inter partes review (IPR) of the RESTASIS® patents based on their sovereign immunity from IPR challenges.
Allergan claimed it wanted the Mohawk’s sovereign immunity to shield it from an inter partes review (“IPR”) brought on by Mylan. Wall Street cheered CEO Brent Saunders’ brilliance and the innovativeness of the deal. I saw desperation and fright from losing its second-largest selling drug to generic rivals.
Did Allergan Shoot Itself In The Foot Too?
Allergan’s share price has fallen over 10 percent since the deal was announced. The company has also drawn the ire of lawmakers and competitors. Mylan called it a desperate attempt to shield Restasis patents from inevitable cancellation. The senate called the deal “anti-competitive” and Senator Claire McCaskill drafted a bill to block the sale. According to Credit Suisse analyst Vamil Divan investors are questioning whether Allergan has run afoul of social responsible:
We have been surprised, however, by the degree of questions around the agreement, including comments from some investors who mentioned they are currently unable to invest in AGN as their firm reviews whether an investment in AGN would meet their standards for socially responsible investing (SRI). We are also surprised that some view the agreement as a sign that AGN is not confident in winning the ongoing District Court case around these patents.
A decision in the federal patent case is expected to be rendered by the end of this month. As the decision draws near investors might price in a loss of the Restasis patents. At 9% revenue and 15% income Restasis has outsized importance to Allergan. The question remains, “Did Allergan shoot itself in the thigh with it Mohawk deal?”