Tuesday, December 2, 2008


PLAXICO BURRESS didn’t just shoot himself in the foot (sorry, thigh); he blew a big hole in the New York Giants’ plans to repeat as Super Bowl champions.

Can the Giants win without Burress? Yes. Are the Giants as good a team without him? No.

Make no mistake, Burress’s likely absence in the coming weeks is going to hurt Big Blue. And, perhaps of even greater concern, is the affect the incident will have on his teammates, two of whom – linebacker Antonio Pierce and, possibly, running back Ahmad Bradshaw – were with him at the Manhattan nightclub in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Yes, the Giants are 11-1, despite the fact that Burress has missed several games this season due to a persistent hamstring injury. And, true, they were comfortable winners in Washington without him last Sunday.

But, as the 6ft 5in wide receiver showed in the Giants’ upset win over the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl earlier this year, and in the NFC  Championship game in Green Bay, he is a man for the big occasion. The Giants have other options. But, when he’s healthy, Burress is far and away their best WR.

The world and his wife have had their say on perplexing Plaxico, most notably New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is calling on the authorities to impose the mandatory three-and-a-half-year sentence if and when Burress is convicted of criminal possession of a weapon.

Why was he carrying a firearm and what were he and the other Giants players doing at the nightclub at 1.20am on Saturday, the day before a game?

Star receiver hurts himself and the team

I have both respect and sympathy for those players who have overcome a tough upbringing to make a name for themselves in the Rollerball world of the National Football League.

They must be besieged by family and friends wanting a share of their fortune and fame. And, of course, some of the hangers-on have not been so fortunate in turning their lives around.

Having said that, no one is above the law. Both the Giants and the New York Presbyterian Hospital were unwise to attempt to cover up the incident. It was bound to get out.

Burress has been nothing but trouble for the Giants this season – even after general manager Jerry Reese gave into his demands and renegotiated his contract. Fortunately, most of the financial incentives were based on him actually playing.

Now, he seems sure to be suspended, if not by the Giants then by the NFL. Commissioner Roger Goodell has made his reputation on establishing a code of conduct among the teams and players.

The Giants have overcome so much adversity in the last two years: the retirements of Tiki Barber and Michael Strahan, the departure of Jeremy Shockey, the pre-season injury to defensive end Osi Umenyiora.

Already the best “team” in the NFL, the Burress affair may make them bond even tighter as a group. But it could also backfire on them when they need to make a big play.

Domenik Hixon is a more than adequate replacement. But he’s three inches shorter than Burress and a lot less experienced.

Burress’s absence leaves Eli Manning with one less option when he’s looking to thread the eye of the needle and find a receiver in the end zone.

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