Another NFL off the field Melodrama as Giants receiver Burress involved in a shooting

plaxico-burress

The NFL’s off-the-field player problems continued this week as NY Giants receiver Plaxico Burress allegedly shot himself in the thigh

(New York, NY) — Well the NFL’s seemingly revolving door of players putting themselves in bad situations continued on Friday as Super Bowl XLII hero New York Giants receiver Plaxico Burress reportedly shot himself in the leg at a New York night club. The incident put another stain on the NFL’s shield as one of the league’s marquee players from the reigning Super Bowl champion team got caught up in a situation that may ultimately cost him not only the 2008 season, but also his career with the New York Giants.  To make matters worse the situation occurred almost one year to the day of the unfortunate shooting death of former Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor.

Burress turned himself into police on Monday in New York City and was expected to be charged with weapon possession.  Burress’ lawyer, Benjamin Brafman – successfully defended P. Diddy in the past – said that his client would plead not guilty.  The facts and specific events around the alleged shooting still need to be fettered out.  But you know the findings of the New York City Police Department (NYPD) and the NFL (NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell / NFL Security led by Jeffrey Miller) will directly affect whether Burress is allowed to represent Big Blue any further.  There is also the little matter of “how” Burress’ teammate linebacker Antonio Pierce, who was witnessed to be with Burress at the time of the alleged shooting, was involved.  Even with the uncertain events around the alleged shooting, the Giants (11-1) still managed to take care of business against the Redskins.  The G-Men pounded their way to another physical win as they beat the ‘Skins 23-7 on a rainy muddy field as Pierce contributed 6 tackles.

It has been an eventful 2008 NFL season for Burress, even before the alleged shooting to say the least.  After catching the game-winning pass in Super Bowl XLII, Burress has been front-page news for the wrong reasons.  First he stayed away from OTA’s and a portion of training camp due to a contract holdout.  In September after disgruntly reporting, he signed a five-year, $27.25 million contract through 2012 — the deal contained $11 million guaranteed, including a $4.25 million signing bonus, see the entire contract terms. Around this same time, Burress was allegedly involved in a couple of domestic violence situations that required the police to be called.  Then the volatile receiver was suspended/fined for one game in October for an unexcused absence at practice.  He was also fined $45,000 dollars for verbally abusing officials.

CBS Analyst Boomer Esiason said of the whole alleged shooting situation, “There’s no way he will ever put a New York Giant uniform on ever again, this is one of the dumbest moves in the recent history of the NFL.”  Sad to say, I have to agree with Boomer as playing in the NFL is a privilege and Burress like many young players just does not seem to get it that the NFL does not want unneeded attention further tarnishing the image of the 89-year old league.  The NFL is “America’s Game” as shown by record television viewings and ticket sales, but the league is having a problem refuting that it is bordering on the NBA in terms of off-the-field player shenanigans causing negative images that could effect the league’s bottom-line (Billion Dollar League).  To their credit, I have noticed this season that the NFL as a whole from the Commissioners office to individual franchises has made a concerted effort to fine/suspend troublemakers and preach a team-first “We” attitude.  But incidents like Burress’, Tank Johnson’s gun problems in 2007, Michael Vick’s dogfighting case and Pacman Jones many brushes with the law, can only do harm to the NFL’s corporate image that is moving towards an unwelcomed thug image in the eyes of some.

I know Burress is a homeboy from a rough part of Virginia and in the wake of the preseason shooting of Jacksonville Jaguars O-lineman Reggie Collier, he may feel that he needs to carry a gun for protection – like half of the rest of the NFL according to ESPN’s Keyshawn Johnson.  But putting yourself, your family and team at risk by carrying a loaded handgun, especially into shady environments, is not the answer.  Burress has now put his entire career at jeopardy and you have to wonder if he ever will get it.  I am sure the Giants, who are not saying much in the wake of this event, are through with his foolishness and I fully expect them to turn the page by putting Burress on the non-football injury list thus ending his season.   If the Giants do put him on that list, then you can fully expect them to go after some of the guaranteed money given to the troublesome receiver. 

Peter King said on NBC’s Football Night in America that the Giants could withhold as much as $23 million that was not guaranteed in Burress’ deal.  The NFL’s biggest blogger and coffee aficionado said, “There’s $1 million guaranteed money in signing bonus that’s due on December 10, the first real test of the Giants love of Plaxico Burress is whether they pay him that bonus in 10 days. I think he’ll play someplace in 2009 but I do think it’s highly unlikely that he’ll ever play for the Giants again.”  In an underachieving 2008 season, Burress so far has 35 catches for 454 yards and 4 touchdowns. 

This situation is one big Soap Opera and it will be interesting to see where Burress, NYPD, the NFL, and the Giants go from here.  But I fully expect that Plaxico will have a new address in 2009 — will move his career numbers of 244 catches for 3681 yards and 33 TDs to his 3rd team as the Giants join his original team, the Steelers, in throwing the lanky receiver on the scrap heap.  The 31-year old Burress will also most likely have to travel to NFL headquarters for a private meeting with Goodell, which you know probably means a suspension (4 games??) for a possible violation of the league’s personal-conduct policy.

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