You’d think the plight of Michael Vick would serve as a great cautionary tale for athletes who may be thinking about doing shady things.

Plaxico Burress apparently didn’t get the message. Burress supporters believe the star wide receiver was wronged by the Giants, who released him before the matter was put through the legal process. Under the letter of the law, Burress is still innocent. The state hasn’t proved its case against him and he hasn’t been convicted. In fact, he hasn’t even been charged.

But anyone who stands by those arguments is missing the point. This is issue isn’t whether he does time or not. The issue is why he was even in that predicament. The facts of Burress’ case aren’t in dispute. We all know he had a gun. We all know it was fired. And we all know he shot himself.

Those facts alone left the Giants were well within their rights to release him. Was it a rush to judgement by the Giants? Not in the least. Guns are dangerous. So what if no one else got hurt? People die from gun violence every day. Former two-division boxing champ Vernon Forrest was shot and killed recently.

Carrying a loaded gun into a club is a no no. Just ask P. Diddy and his former protege Jamal “Shyne” Barrow. Barrow is doing 10 years after being convicted of weapons charges and other violations in relation to shots being fired inside Club New York in 1999.

The same goes for Vick. Some believe Vick’s sentence of 23 months was harsh, citing the fact that few people, if any, had ever done that much time for charges related to dogfighting. Again, how much time Vick served wasn’t the point. The point was that Vick was even in trouble in the first place.

Some athletes think they are invincible. Some believe they can do whatever they want, whenever they want. To hell with the consequences.

Browns’ wide receiver Donte Stallworth pled guilty to DUI and second degree manslaughter. He got off light by most accounts, receiving 30 days (he only served 24). He also got hit with two years of house arrest, eight years probation, 1,000 hours of community service and a life time suspension of his driver’s license.

Is that enough punishment for taking a life? No. Serving 24 days in jail is nothing but window dressing for taking a life. The rest of the punishment is nothing but an inconvenience.

There’s one person who has clearly drawn a line in the sand.

Manhattan DA Robert Morgenthau insisted that Burress will have to do time, according to a story in the New York Post. “We’ve always taken the position that he’s going to have to go to jail, whether by trial or by plea,” said in the Post.

Supporters or Burress were taken back when Mayor Michael Bloomberg gave his opinion in the days following the incident. They were upset that he put pressure on the DA’s office to make sure Burress does the requisite time.

Was Bloomberg right to meddle? No. It’s not fair that he weighs in on this case, but not on other gun possession cases. That notwithstanding, Burress needs to do some time.

No one got hurt. But if the average Joe Citizen can do time, so can Plax.

Message to athletes: Leave the guns at home. If you’re going somewhere and think you need to bring a gun, don’t go. If you are going to a party, get a drive, rent a car, call a cab…The idea of a multi-millionare not willing to spend a few hundred dollars on a limo for the night is a joke.

Hopefully someone learns a lesson.