An urgent SportsCenter update has just informed the world that Plaxico Burress showed up to work today, less than 24 hours after facing the horrors of
central booking at the One Seven. The notorious skel (hey, I've seen NYPD Blue) reported to the Giants training facility this morning, per team rules, to receive treatment for his injured hamstring. Oh, and also the bullet wound, I guess.
Burress posted a $100,000 bail and was given a court date of March 31. So that gives us a good four months of hand-wringing, finger-wagging, incorrect predictions, unanswerable questions and at least 87 Mike Lupica columns about gun violence. It turns out that the incident that may really have sparked this situation happened on Monday night, when Burress' teammate Steve Smith was robbed at gunpoint after a night on the town. Burress probably thought that if Smith could be robbed in front of his own house (by the driver who took him home), he would need protection himself. Take it, Lupica.
We always hear that afterward, that they've got to be carrying to protect themselves, protect the big wad of cash they're carrying, protect their expensive jewelry. But ask yourself something: When was the last time you heard of a famous athlete stopping a crime, against himself or anybody else, because he was the one with the gun?
Seriously? When was the last time you heard of somebody like Plaxico Burress being a crimefighter? More often than not, they become the crime. Or the scene of the crime. Burress needed a gun to be tough and keep himself from some menace to society ready to jump out from the dance floor at the Latin Quarter, and if he didn't turn into a menace to society, he certainly became one to himself.
That really misses the point, but okay. Let's leave the anger to the Mayor and look at the what Giants can do now.
As you may have noticed, March 31 is after the NFL season is over, which leaves the G-Men with several options. They could plausibly make the case to "let the system work" and go about their business for the rest of this season, letting Burress back on the team (once his leg heals.) They could give him a preliminary wrist slap suspension to show they are "taking this very seriously" and still have him back for the playoffs.
They could keep him inactive forever, suspending him with pay or if doctors say his injury is severe enough, they could put him on the non-injury football list. That not only leaves him out for the season, but the Giants would not have to pay him and they could possibly get back some of the money they've already paid him. Or they could just cut their losses now, release him and his distractions immediately and move on with their lives. Of course, all of that would be moot if Roger Goodell decides to "take care of" the problem himself.
But there are other issues for the Giants—notably the fate of Antonio Pierce. (Reportedly, he was supposed to join Burress at the station yesterday and did not show.) If he handled Plaxico's gun at any time on the fateful night, then he is also guilty of possession of an illegal firearm, to say nothing of tampering/obstruction of justice charges if police decide that he tried to hide the evidence. I think most folks agree that the Giants can win without Burress, but their title defense would be seriously hampered without their middle linebacker. It's one thing for a troublemaking player to take himself out of the picture, but to drag other players into his web of craziness may be too much for management to take.
For his part, running back Derrick Ward has established that he was not involved at all and the NYPD is no longer looking at him as a person of interest. But as with every other twist and turn in this story, that only raises more questions. Like ... what ... is up ... with the sweater?
• Plaxico arrives at Stadium; Future a Giant question mark [Daily News]
• Any chance of Plaxico Burress catching a break is real long shot [Mike Lupica]
• BURRESS CHARGED; GIANTS WEIGH OPTIONS [NY Post]
• BURRESS DEAL HAS LOOPHOLES [NY Post]
• Giants' Smith was holdup victim last week [Newsday]
• Giants' Pierce wants to get past gun 'headache' [Newsday]
• Exclusive: Blitz Can Confirm Where Derrick Ward Was Friday [Bob's Blitz]