ISUPPOSE we should be grateful that the only bad behavior our own football "heroes" exhibit is on the gridiron.

Sure, they score only when it doesn't matter anymore. Yup, they sleepwalk through must-wins. True, they've taken so many chill pills they look comatose.

But it could be a lot worse. We could be Giants fans. As we all know, Plaxico Burress, world-class receiver, has enthralled Gotham with his Keystone Cop imitation, shooting himself in the thigh at a club last weekend.

You might say idiocy isn't a crime, and this story really shouldn't have legs. But there are so many juicy components to the saga of the Super Bowl chump that even we in Philly are paying attention.

Of course, it doesn't hurt that the Eagles make a trip to the Meadowlands this weekend, so our eyes would normally be focused on Eli Manning and his merry band of marauders.

Still, Plaxico's Excellent Adventure stands on its own as an example of arrogance, incompetence, sheer stupidity and the benefits of privilege.

The sordid tale started early Saturday morning (don't they all?) when the star wide receiver pumped some lead into one of his lower extremities. He didn't have a license for the weapon, which is a big no-no in New York, which has some of the toughest gun laws in the country.

So far, he hasn't been charged with anything (although prosecutors should look at the statute that criminalizes walking the streets with half a brain). He will be, of course. Carrying a loaded, unlicensed weapon into a crowded club is a recipe for disaster.

Just ask P-Diddy and his erstwhile babelet, the once and future J.Lo. But we don't need to wait for law enforcement to weigh in to see how ridiculous, how exceptionally bizarre, this story is.

After Burress proved he was a dropout from the Sarah Palin School of Sharpshooting, he was taken to New York-Cornell Hospital and seen by one Josyann Abisaab. The good doctor apparently decided that the laws that usually apply in gunshot cases have no jurisdiction over Super Bowl champs, so she treated him without alerting police and then signed off on medical papers identifying him by a phony name. (If I were named Plaxico, I'd want a pseudonym, too.)

But I digress.

The doctor, who also hasn't yet been charged (is ANYONE getting slapped with a summons on this one?) has, at the least, violated the part of the Hippocratic Oath that says "Don't risk your license for gridiron idiots," showing how even intelligent people can be blinded by star power.

Now you might think that this crime didn't rise to the level of O.J.'s or Lawrence Taylor's or even Michael Vick's, who all have permanent places in the Hall of Felonious Football Fame. And if you consider that his victim was neither a wife, girlfriend or wide-eyed little dog, it's true.

But there's something supremely distasteful in this affair, an example (as if we needed another one) that celebrities are held to a different standard from the rest of us mortals.

If Joe Schmo had shot himself in the leg at the local diner, do we believe he'd have been spirited to the nearest Ivy League-affiliated hospital, treated on the QT and sent home with a pat on the head like Cindy Lou Who on Christmas morning?

Au contraire. Joe would've been taken into custody, transported to a dingy emergency-room clinic, where they probably would have asked if he had any insurance and then would have posed for several unflattering mug shots.

BUT, YOU say, does Mr. Schmo make us happy on Sundays?

Does he dance and soar and catch the clever passes lobbed in his direction by Peyton's overachieving younger brother? Does he charm the crowds with his smile, the women with his looks, the men with his stats?

Of course not. And that is why Plaxico Burress got special treatment for being trigger-happy.

Bowing to the PR disaster, the Giants have sidelined him for the rest of the year. This means he won't be a threat to the Birds, who actually might have a shot (oops) at winning this one.

We might be boring, true. But if boring gets you one in the win column, bring on the yawns. *

Christine M. Flowers is a lawyer.