Without a doubt, Plaxico Burress has entrenched himself firmly in the attention seat. Love him or hate him…you’re probably talking about him.
Surfing the blog-o-sphere, it becomes apparent that there are many of you who think he isn’t worth the risk for the Jets.
I guess I am swimming alone on this one because I feel that letting Burress and his talents escape would be a colossal mistake.
From the mundane, Burress has had some 9 civil lawsuits filed against him since he started his NFL career, to the infamous, self-inflicted gunshot incident, there is no doubt about his penchant for attracting trouble, but what has he really cost his teams with his troubles?
Outside of the embarrassment any organization might be expected to feel when one of it’s own becomes news media fodder for less than noble reasons, the hard truth is that his off-field antics have proven to be minor blips on the screen for both his teams and team mates.
Despite having to deal with Plaxico’s brand of distractions, the Pittsburgh Steelers managed to flourish with Burress on board. Burress amassed 261 receptions for 4,164 yards, 22 touchdowns, and only six fumbles over a span of 71 games (5 years).
Plaxico even managed to help elevate the game of others around him, in particular fellow wide receiver Hines Ward, with whom Burress combined, in the 2001 season, to be the first pair of 1,000-yard receivers in Steelers history. They would hit this mark again in 2002. Burress also holds the Steelers franchise, single game record with 253 receiving yards.
While it is easy to dismiss all this with a casual, "He didn’t win the big one with them though…", I think it is folly to dismiss the level of game he brought to Steel town. None of Plaxico Burress’s off-field issues did a thing to slow down the Steelers machine, his on-field antics however, did plenty to elevate the team during his time there.
How ’bout dem Giants? How bad did Burress and his brand of ‘legal antics’ hurt the New York Giants?
I’d say almost not at all. Almost.
On March 17 2005, he signed a six-year, $25 million contract with the New York Giants. That same season, Burress caught 76 passes for 1,214 yards, helping the team earn an 11-5 record, good enough for first place in the NFC East as well as the NFC’s fourth seed.
In 2006, Burress caught a career high 10 touchdowns but struggled with a groin injury for much of the year & fell short of the 1,000-yard mark, appearing in only 15 games. The Giants would drop the NFC Wild Card playoffs to the NFC East champion Philadelphia Eagles. Playing hurt, Burress finished the game with five receptions for 89 yards and two touchdowns.
Burress was the Giants’ top receiver in 2007 with 70 receptions for 1,025 yards. Numbers he achieved despite not practicing all season because of an ailing ankle. Burress would set a franchise playoff record in the NFC title game against Green Bay with 11 receptions for 154 yards, advancing the Giants into Super Bowl XLII.
Burress would go on to catch the Super Bowl game-winning pass that made the score 17-14 Giants.
Here is where all the Burress haters will chime in the loudest. I admit that Plaxico’s recent gun-related legal issues have hurt the Giants to some extent. His troubles have forced the Giants to make a choice…stick with their man or cut and run. The Giants famously chose the latter, having released Burress on April 3, 2009.
So OK. You got me on that one. Having to try and replace a valuable, wide out talent is a task not easily accomplished.
Just ask the Jets.
All that aside, I refuse to believe that the Giants wish they had never hired him at all. Scoring a momentus Super Bowl win against the monster that is New England, is a memory that I can assure you is still very fresh in the minds of Mara’s everywhere.
Now team-less, Burress is very much in danger of doing time for his actions and cutting his precious NFL career very short. In an effort to thwart this eventuality, Burress and his legal team have made moves to try and ensure his availability for the coming 2009 season.
Should Burress become available, I think there will be nothing short of war amoung several NFL teams in an effort to acquire him.
I believe that this is exactly what GM Mike Tannenbaum and most of the NFL for that matter, have been waiting and watching for…will Burress be available for a 1 year contract? It has become clear to me that the Jets interest in Plaxico inflates and deflates according to the likelihood of his availability.
I believe that the team will move to secure him for a one year deal if Mike Bloomberg and the commish let Burress come out to play. This is a move that will get them through this season as a viable contender as well as allow them the time to develop a plan for getting a full time replacement into the wide receivers corps for next season.
What about the players? What do the men in the locker room say about possibily having Plaxico join them?
"We’ve got a strong locker room and a strong locker room can deal with, quote-unquote, guys like that. I don’t see any problem bringing in a guy like Plaxico." - Jets Tackle Damien Woody
"I’d open my arms wide if he’s able to come here. I think the rest of the team would, too. That’s a special talent. I only see upside if we’re able to get him. That could definitely put us a lot closer to our goal." - Jets corner back Lito Sheppard
"When you have that type of talent on the market, I think anyone would want to have that guy. Any team would find a way to welcome him. It’s just rare that you have that type of talent on the market this time of the year. I don’t think anyone would pass." - Jets wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery
"Plax was a great teammate. He was going to say things at times that maybe not everybody was going to agree with, but you knew that was Plax, and you knew what you were going to get in practice and in the game. That’s a great asset. From being around him, I think he’d fit in real good. He’d be welcome." – Jets guard Alan Faneca
Glad to see I’m not the only one who’s thinking ‘crazy’.
Now if I could just divine a way to get Burress past Bloomberg and Goodell.
Not bloody likely.