Why Plax still has a place in New York

Giants, Jets beat writers make the case for why Burress might be right for their teams

Updated: June 6, 2011, 11:15 AM ET
By Ohm Youngmisuk and Rich Cimini |

Plaxico Burress has paid his debt to society, but he might still owe something to the football fans of New York. If he's in playing shape, should the Giants or Jets, um ... give him a shot? Giants beat writer Ohm Youngmisuk and Jets beat writer Rich Cimini break down why it's worthwhile.

The Giants and Jets should consider Plaxico Burress. Here's why:

The idea of seeing an ex-girlfriend beaming and giddy with a new man is about as pleasant as participating in one of those excruciating stunts on MTV's "Jackass."

Now throw in that the new boyfriend is someone you despise, rich and handsome and now happier with what used to be yours.

Now you can understand why some Giants and many of their fans want Plaxico Burress back and not in the arms of another team.

In this case, the Philadelphia Eagles.

Entertaining the very thought of seeing Plax play for a division rival and snag touchdown passes from Michael Vick is about as nauseating as watching the Eagles' 38-31 come-from-behind win over the Giants over and over again.

On Monday, Burress will step out of Oneida Correctional Facility a free man. And after the lockout ends, Burress is expected to be a sought-after free agent by a handful of teams.

According to Brandon Jacobs, Burress has his eyes on joining Vick, DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin in Philadelphia.

"I would hate to see him go to where I think he is going to go, that is from talking to him," Jacobs said Thursday. "Plax is a Virginia guy, Vick is a Virginia guy. They went through sort of the same things, and they got a lot of dynamic players down there. It wouldn't be a bad thing, he thinks, to go down there. He wants to win."

Certainly none of the Giants, even ones who aren't in favor of a Plaxico reunion, would want to see the 6-foot-5 receiver in an Eagles uniform or, gasp, a Jets uniform.

Imagine it: Vick lobbing a fade to Burress in the end zone to help the Eagles win the NFC East.

Or how about Mark Sanchez throwing a bomb to Burress and Rex Ryan backing up his trash talk when the two New York teams battle on Christmas Eve?

If Jacobs is right -- and he says he has talked to Burress at least once a week during his prison sentence -- there's a strong possibility of at least one of those nightmarish possibilities coming to fruition.

There's no guarantee that Burress will return to his old form. He will be 34 years old in August and hasn't played since 2008. But he's fresh, injury-free and motivated.

As soon as the lockout ends, the Giants might want to consider trying to persuade Burress to return. Otherwise they might see Burress in 2011 twice with Vick and the NFC East title on the line.

That's a sight that might make Giants players and fans squirm the way Johnny Knoxville sometimes does before one of his daredevil stunts.

It could be the Plax 'n' Rex Show.

Think about that for a moment: former Giants Super Bowl hero Burress, due to be released from prison Monday, signing with the Jets to play for Rex Ryan. Imagine the headlines: Jets go from "Hard Knocks" to hard time.

It's a long shot, but know this: If the Jets lose Braylon Edwards or Santonio Holmes in free agency, they will investigate the possibility of adding Burress to their receiving corps -- especially if Edwards, a big receiver in the Plaxico mold, is the goner.

And, for many reasons, it would be a good marriage.

Ryan is so confident in his coaching ability that he believes he could handle anyone this side of Attila the Hun. Burress would be a major reclamation project, but he'd have the potential to succeed because he'd be hungry and motivated after nearly two years behind bars.

The Jets aren't shy about taking risks with troubled players, but they've been successful because they have the right environment (credit to Ryan) and they've gambled on the right players. Randy Moss, another free-agent option, would be the wrong player because, at times, he doesn't seem to care. Burress would care.

Let's be real: It's crazy to expect Burress, who turns 34 in August, to be the same receiver who dominated the Packers in the 2007 NFC Championship Game and caught the game-winning touchdown a couple of weeks later to beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl. He will have missed two-plus seasons of football, but his skill set will enable him to be a productive receiver.

Unless he shrunk in jail, Burress is 6-foot-5, and that would make him a tremendous asset in the red zone. It just so happens that the Jets' most glaring weakness on offense is red zone efficiency. His game never was based on speed, so he might be able to rebound from a long layoff better than a 4.4 burner.

For all his improvement, Mark Sanchez remains a quarterback with accuracy issues and he needs a big target who provides a margin for error. Burress would be that guy. He'd be a nice complement to Holmes and Jerricho Cotchery -- assuming the Jets can sign him for a relatively inexpensive price.

Burress is familiar with the New York landscape and could handle the pressure and the circus atmosphere that would accompany his arrival. But the madness would die down in a couple of weeks and he'd be able to concentrate on his craft.

He was no saint before that fateful night in November 2008, when he accidentally shot himself in a crowded night club, but he paid a severe price for his egregious mistake. If he is in shape and demonstrates passion and remorse, why not take a chance?

Ohm Youngmisuk has covered the Giants, Jets and the NFL since 2006. Prior to that, he covered the Nets, Knicks and the NBA for nearly a decade. He joined after working at the New York Daily News for almost 12 years and is a graduate of Michigan State University.
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Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter