(Long Island, NY) With everything falling into place on a near-perfect season, the last thing the New York Giants needed was a distraction of epic proportions. The Plaxico Burress shooting incident cannot become the fly in the ointment and even with other members of the organization involved, they have to put this behind them.
For a team that has had their fair share of controversial figures (Tiki Barber, Michael Strahan and Jeremy Shockey being the top three), Burress has taken it to another level with his latest in a long list of what not to do. To make matters worse, he is taking down someone with him that has been the mark of consistency for everything that Burress is not.
Antonio Pierce has always been viewed as one of the go-to guys for Big Blue and is known in the industry as a player that will stand by his locker and answer all questions. But he has been put in an awkward position here and has had to – for legal purposes – refuse to speak about what happened that night in the Latin Quarters nightclub.
“If there are any questions about the New York Giants as a team and going forward about the Philadelphia Eagles (the Giants’ next opponent) I will answer, but I am not answering any questions or tell you anything that happened on Saturday,” said Pierce.
While that is totally understandable, Pierce has to realize that he is no angel in this matter. First of all, he was out late and possibly drinking (Burress was) not long before the team was to leave for Washington. Due to the circumstances, Pierce ended up staying out a lot longer than he probably expected and became involved by allegedly taking possession of the gun. These actions are still open to criminal charges and/or discipline from the league.
According to head coach Tom Coughlin, he expects Pierce to play on Sunday, a game in which the Giants can clinch the division with a win. “I don’t believe so,” he said in response to a question if he has any reason to believe that Pierce and Ahmad Bradshaw (the third player at the nightclub) will not be on the field.
It’s obvious that the Giants will do everything they can to ensure Pierce’s status does not change, as hard as they made sure that Burress’ did. By placing the wide receiver on the non-football injury list and suspending him for the last four games of the regular season, the Giants have in effect ended their relationship with Burress. It appears that they are taking the stance that Pierce is guilty by association, which may have some validity to it but is not totally accurate.
The NYPD apparently does not see Pierce in the same light, according to a report in the New York Post. The gumshoes, looking for blood and gun powder residue, impounded Pierce’s vehicle, the same one that he drove Burress home to New Jersey in with a bullet hole in his leg. Conflicting reports had Pierce also driving Burress to the hospital in Manhattan, but either way, they both stated that the gun was placed in the glove compartment of the Cadillac Escalade.
Give Pierce credit when he is able to set aside the distractions from this incident and concentrate on the next game. “Whatever the outside world or whatever these people that sit here in front of my face today talk about or write about it doesn’t matter,” he said. “We focus on football.”
For a team trying to repeat as Super Bowl champions, nothing less will do.