Today is no different than the last several days. There is still no answer on the ruling of the “stay.” If you’re a true football junkie like I am, then you’re getting frustrated, tired and exhausted over this issue of revenue. While the owners want to keep a higher percentage of “total revenue,” the players refuse to give any percentage back. We, the fans, just want football started in the form of free agency, OTAs (organized team activities) and rookie mini-camps.
While everyone is on edge waiting for the decision from the three judges of the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals (Kermit E. Bye, Steven M. Colloton, Duane Benton), the speculation of what if and the unknown is weighing on all involved.
Does the NFL establish 2010 rules with no cap ceiling and no floor? All pro personnel departments have been itching to get going since the new calendar year with the lists, boards and meetings completed, discussed and rehashed.
There are several unrestricted and restricted free agents in limbo, not to mention the college street free agents sitting and waiting. If the stay is lifted and the players are back to work, there will be a window of opportunity and a feeding frenzy for all free agents to find new homes.
The most intriguing player won’t be on the street with the other free agents. He still sits in a prison cell in Newark, N.J. Plaxico Burress is set for release on June 6, after officials agreed to remove three months off his court ordered time behind bars in a gun case.
Burress is finishing out a prison sentence for an accidental shooting in which he shot himself in the leg on Nov. 28, 2008 while in a Manhattan nightclub. He entered the club with a gun tucked in the waistband of his pants. Burress’ weapon slid down his leg and when he reached to secure the gun, it fired, shooting himself in the thigh. The bullet narrowly missed a security guard, prosecutors said.
When arriving at Rikers Island, Burress received an ID card, went through an orientation session and got his new wardrobe. That included his hunter-green uniform tops and bottoms, a pair of black work boots and a pair of white, low-top canvas sneakers. He had a new number, too: 09-R-3260.
He was placed in voluntary protective custody, separated from the inmate population at all times for his safety and confined to a single cell. He was allowed out for three hours of recreation per day, and had to attend required meetings with counselors (medical and mental health staff members). He was allowed three showers a week and one visit per weekend. And, at 11 p.m., it was lights out.
The gun wasn’t licensed in New York or New Jersey, where Burress lived, and his Florida concealed-weapons permit had expired. He also failed to report the incident to authorities.
Burress had been concerned for his safety because a teammate had been held up at gunpoint several days before. That’s why he carried the gun with him. While he has been in prison, he completed a work assignment and anger management, according to several sources and his lawyer.
He’s had a few minor disciplinary problems, three to be exact that include an episode in which corrections officers said Burress lied about having permission to use the phone to call his lawyer at a time when calls weren’t permitted. The November, 2009 misstep cost him a week of phone privileges and 30 days of recreation privileges.
Agent Drew Rosenhaus recently indicated that Burress was in great shape after seeing him in a prison visit.
Burress was born Aug. 12, 1977, and will turn 34 during training camp. A native of Norfolk, Va., he played college ball at Michigan State, was selected in the first round of the 2000 draft as the No. 8 overall pick by the Pittsburgh Steelers (2000-2004) and finished out his career to this point with the New York Giants (2005-2008), catching the winning touchdown for the Giants over the New England Patriots in the final minute of the 2008 Super Bowl.
Rosenhaus was quoted in early February saying that Burress was “doing great.” Rosenhaus also added that he can’t wait to get back on the football field in 2011, saying, “He is mentally and physically strong right now and is looking forward to the future!”
Whoever lands this talented football player, despite his being 34 years old and having played no football for the past two seasons will be getting a player at a bargain basement price. If he is in the best shape of his life, his weight is down and still has the passion for the NFL stage and game, he will command a lot of respect and attention from several teams.
This tall possession receiver brings skill set and value to a team with a championship foundation that is almost complete and peeking over the fence to the playoffs. He has caused controversy during his career (in 2004 with Pittsburgh and 2008 with the Giants both leading too suspensions by the teams). He is a true diva and may need to be managed in the future.
Which team or teams will fight for this difference-maker and former playmaker? Which team or teams will take a chance on a man that hopefully has learned a great lesson, lost time with his family and is extremely focused to prove he still can play the game he loves?