Giants Need to Make a Call on Plaxico Burress
Call it a ‘Catch-17’ situation for Jerry Reese. The Giants’ general manager knows in his heart that the outcome of last Sunday’s 23-11 loss to Philadelphia in the NFC divisional round may have been different if Plaxico Burress was on the field catching everything quarterback Eli Manning would throw right between the 1 and 7 on the front of his jersey. But due to the suspension of the troubled wide receiver, we will never know that for certain.
Before Reese can even think about Burress coming back, there are a few legal matters at hand that need to be addressed first. Most importantly is the one in Manhattan on March 31 when Burress will have to answer for the November 29 shooting incident. Before discussing anything with the wideout, Reese will wait at least until Burress sees a judge.
“Well, the legal process can veto everything, so it doesn’t make a lot of sense to make a lot of decisions prior to the legal process running its course,” he said. “That will be a part of the decision making as we go forward. Plax is still a New York Giant right now.”
Reese further stated that the decision will be made as an organization – ownership, the coaching and personnel staff will all be involved on whether Burress comes back next season or not. That is, if he is able to. Not only does the he face criminal charges, but NFL commissioner Roger Goodell runs a tight ship and may elect to suspend Burress. The four games that Burress missed at the end of the regular season was the result of team discipline.
Always seeming to get himself in trouble, Burress was in a courtroom recently, albeit for a civil trial in Pennsylvania. According to a report in Newsday, a local car dealer is seeking $36,000 for a 2004 Chevrolet Avalanche and an additional $6,600 in counsel fees after the car was damaged and impounded by the New York City Police Department. The court complaint said the vehicle was “involved in a criminal incident involving gunfire” in New York City after Burress loaned it to friends. Seems to be a pattern here with this player.
His teammates have stuck by him, and collectively have publicly stated that they want him back. Manning and defensive end Justin Tuck, two considered team leaders, both made it clear that they hope the wideout returns. While that sentiment may be the majority in the locker room, it doesn’t exactly have the same feeling coming out of the coach’s office.
During an interview on WFAN’s Mike Francesa show, Tom Coughlin was hesitant to welcome back Burress. “I’m not ready to say that,” the head coach said. “The issue that I have to think about is there are 52 other guys in that locker room as well.”
Never being on the best of terms, Coughlin and Burress have had their differences, even before the latest incident. Looking at it from the head coach’s point of view, he cannot allow one player to behave as if he was a rich teenager whose father was the District Attorney. Burress goes by the beat of his own drum and has not shown even a hint of turning the page. In fact, his actions have progressively declined.
For the short term, the team may be weaker in the passing game, and the statistics over the last month of the season back that up, with Manning throwing for less than 200 yards during that span and the playoff game. But someone has to step up and take a stand against the distraction that Burress has become.
If that person happens to Coughlin, so be it. And the people who will also be involved in the decision to bring Burress back or not have to respect their coach’s opinion.