Over the last few years, several prominent athletes have overcome major setbacks to reemerge as stars once again. Plaxico Burress, who returned in June from a two-year stint in a New York prison, is the latest to get the chance to rewrite his own legacy. The 34-year-old wideout pleaded guilty to criminal possession of a weapon after he illegally carried a firearm into a Manhattan nightclub on the night of Nov. 28, 2009 and accidently shot himself in the leg. He now looks to return to form in the same city where he ascended to stardom and won a Super Bowl with the Giants, but his homecoming will be in a New York Jets uniform. In the first TV interview to feature both Plaxico and his wife, Tiffany, since Burress signed with the Jets, REAL SPORTS host Bryant Gumbel reviews the incident that led to Burress' imprisonment, the new path that he has forged and his outlook on playing for the Jets.
The dreadful showing by Americans at Wimbledon earlier this summer gave more ammunition to critics who charge that tennis is in steep decline in the U.S. The glory days of Ashe, King, Connors, Evert and McEnroe, who gave the U.S. a towering presence, are long gone. Add the retirement of Sampras and Agassi, and injuries to the Williams sisters, and the scene is ripe for new stars to emerge. But why is American tennis sputtering? And what can be done to revive it? As the USTA prepares to host the US Open in Flushing Meadows, correspondent Jon Frankel examines the issue in this REAL SPORTS/Sports Illustrated collaboration. Queens natives Patrick and John McEnroe lead the discussion about what should be done to promote tennis to America's youth while explaining their contrasting approaches to the revival.
Most surfers would say the rush from high-risk surfing is almost incomparable. Away from the tides, some still chase that high through illegal drug use, and say their passion for big waves and dependence on drugs stem from the same adrenaline-seeking impulse. REAL SPORTS correspondent Jon Frankel looks inside the world of surfing and its disturbing subculture of drug use, which has been around for decades, and speaks with former users about the steps being taken to raise awareness and aid in rehabilitation.
The exhilarating and glamorous sport of equestrian eventing, when horse and rider compete in dressage, jumping and cross-country, is not just the ultimate test of horsemanship, but is also extremely dangerous. Every year, riders are seriously injured when horses trip over jumps or balk during competition, vaulting jockeys to the ground. When HBO first covered this story in 2008, REAL SPORTS discovered that a troubling number of riders and horses were killed participating in this sport. REAL SPORTS correspondent Frank Deford reconnects with the some of the riders who brought attention to this issue and details what steps have been taken to improve rider safety.