Plax, We Hardly Knew Ye

Published on: 20th April, 2009

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The NFL doesn't shoot itself in the foot often. This cover up may change that.   | read this item

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East Rutherford, N.J. — The up and down, often exhilarating and just as often exasperating Giants career of Plaxico Burress is over. In the latest and final chapter of Burress’ four year tenure with Big Blue, the Giants decided to release their leading receiver today in the aftermath of Burress’ legal problems stemming from the accidental, self-inflicted gunshot wound in the leg with an unregistered gun while he was in a New York nightclub in November, 2008. With this decision, the Giants end the dark cloud that has hovered over the player and the team as they await the results of his legal difficulties.

The release sets up a series of machinations in the Giants front office that will surely lead management to either draft or trade for an impact player at Burress’ position. The upcoming NFL Draft, later this month does not present any outstanding pass-catchers for the Giants when their first choice, at number 27, comes along. The only player at the position scouts feel can make an immediate impact on an NFL field is Texas Tech’s Michael Crabtree, who will surely be gone within the first five picks of the draft.. The Giants currently have Steve Smith, Dominick Hixon, disappointing Sinorice Moss, and un-tested second-year player, Mario Manningheim on their roster, none of whom has the physical capabilities of stretching opposing defenses as Burress, a rangy, 6’6″ 220 pounder, has for his entire seven year career between the Giants and the Pittsburgh Steelers.

“I am an optimist, and I believe most situations can be worked out,” said General Manager Jerry Reese. “We hung in there as long as we could in hopes that there could be a resolution to this situation other than the decision we made today to release Plaxico. It wasn’t to be, so now we have to move on. Like everybody else here, we want nothing but the best for Plaxico, and we are appreciative of the contributions he made to this franchise.”

Burress is perhaps best known for catching the game-winning touchdown pass in the Giants’ upset victory over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII. He eluded Patriots cornerback Ellis Hobbs with an inside move, then ran to the outside, where he caught Eli Manning’s 13-yard throw with 35 seconds remaining in the game. Burress had two receptions in the Super Bowl, catching Manning’s first and last passes of the game.

In his four years with the Giants, Burress was among the best of players at his position. He caught 344 passes, which places him 12th on the franchise’s career list, one catch ahead of Earnest Gray and three behind Aaron Thomas. Burress had 3,681 receiving yards and caught 33 touchdown passes for the Giants.

“Plaxico’s contribution to our championship season in 2007 can never be underestimated or undervalued,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin. “He displayed tremendous determination throughout that season. Having said that, I have always been as concerned about Plaxico as a man as I have been about him as a player, and my hope is that everything that has happened over the past several months represents a turning point. He is a young man with a family who has a whole lifetime ahead of him, and I personally wish him and his family well.”

Burress had caught a pass in 115 consecutive games in which he played – including 56 with the Giants – until he was shutout at Arizona on Nov. 23, the game before the shooting incident. Burress started but left the Arizona game after one series with a hamstring injury and did not return.

Burress’ 23 postseason catches with the Giants leave him fifth on the team’s career list and his 310 postseason yards place him third.

Last year, Burress played in 10 games with nine starts and caught 35 passes for 454 yards and four touchdowns. He played his best game on opening night, when he had 10 receptions for 133 yards in a victory over Washington. His last Giants reception was an 11-yarder late in the second quarter in a victory over Baltimore on Nov. 16.

Burress joined the Giants as an unrestricted free agent on March 17, 2005. The date of his arrival is what prompted him to wear uniform No. 17. In his first season with the team, Burress played in all 16 games, plus the NFC Wild Card Game, and led the team with 76 receptions (the fifth-highest total in Giants history) and 1,214 yards (second-highest). He also tied for the team lead with seven touchdown catches.

Burress was selected NFC Offensive Player of the Week for his Week 4 performance against St. Louis, when he caught 10 passes for 204 yards and two touchdowns. In the regular season finale at Oakland, he caught a 78-yard touchdown pass from Manning, the longest thrown by the Giants quarterback in his NFL career. Burress has caught each of Manning’s seven-longest touchdown passes.

In 2006, Burress started all 15 regular season games in which he played, as well as the NFC Wild Card Game. He led the Giants with 988 receiving yards and 10 touchdown catches. Burress was the first Giant with double-digit touchdown receptions since Gray had 10 in 1980. His 63 receptions were second on the team, trailing only Jeremy Shockey (66).

Burress started all 20 regular season and postseason games in the 2007 championship season despite an ankle injury that kept him out of practice virtually the entire season. He led the Giants with 70 receptions, 1,025 yards and 12 touchdowns. The 12 touchdown receptions were a career high and left him tied in second place on the Giants’ single-season list with Del Shofner, who had 12 scoring catches in 1962. The team record of 13 was set by Homer Jones in 1967. Burress became the first Giant since Shofner in 1961-62 to post back-to-back seasons with 10 or more scoring catches.

In 2007, Burress caught at least one touchdown pass in each of the Giants’ first six games (he had eight overall in that span) to become the second player since 1970 with a touchdown reception in each of his first six games of a season. The other was Jerry Rice, who had at least one touchdown reception in 12 straight games in 1987.

Burress opened the year at Dallas with a season-high eight receptions for 144 yards (his second-highest total as a Giant) and a career-high three touchdowns. His 60-yard touchdown reception on the Giants’ first procession of the season was his longest of the year. Burress set a Giants postseason record with 11 receptions in the NFC Championship Game in Green Bay, one more than Ike Hilliard had in the 2000 Championship Game victory over Minnesota. Burress’ 151 yards in the title game were the third-highest one-game total in team playoff history.

Burress joined the Giants after playing his first five NFL seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers, for whom he played 71 games and caught 261 passes for 4,164 yards and 22 touchdowns. The Steelers selected Burress with the eighth overall selection of the 2000 NFL Draft.

His career totals are 505 receptions for 7,845 yards and 55 touchdowns. With three catches last Nov. 2 against Dallas, Burress became the 101st player in NFL history with at least 500 receptions.

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