Former Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Giants receiver Plaxico Burress left Oneida Correctional Facility in Rome, New York on Monday morning wearing mostly black, but there was nothing but happiness in his heart.
“It’s a beautiful day,” Burress said in a brief statement to reporters. “It’s a beautiful day to be reunited with my family … As far as football is concerned, if and when everything is settled and when they get back on the field, I’ll be ready.”
Burress served almost two years in prison after pleading guilty to attempted criminal possession of a weapon. In November of 2008, Burress accidentally shot himself in the thigh when a weapon he was holding in his sweatpants discharged in a New York nightclub, and that started a downward spiral that now has him as an interesting NFL comeback story. Between the recent rehabilitation story of Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick and the currently slow NFL news cycle, we can expect to hear all sorts of football options for Burress, who is reportedly heading down to Florida to begin training for his own comeback.
Of course, if you ask his agent Drew Rosenhaus, Burress is already set to go.
“We are going to be open to all 32 teams,” Rosenhaus said on Monday. “Ultimately, this will be Plax’s decision, not mine. I am here to help him pick the best spot and get the very best contract. And that is what we will do … Before the lockout started and during that very brief window, right around the time of the draft, the feedback was excellent. Plaxico is going to be a top free agent, there are going to be multiple teams interested in signing him. I expect him to get a good contract, I expect him to absolutely be playing. I think he’ll be coveted. He’ll be one of our top free agents.”
Of course, Rosenhaus isn’t allowed to talk with teams about his client until the lockout is resolved. The Giants released Burress in 2009, and former teammate Brandon Jacobs was quoted as saying that there was “no way” Burress would be asked to return to the Giants. Vick, on the other hand, recently said on Philadelphia talk radio that Burress would be an interesting fit on an Eagles team that’s already full of weapons.
“Plaxico is going to come out with a chip on his shoulder the same way I did, and he’ll go out and help this football team to whatever capacity he can,” Vick said. “I think the guys would be willing to embrace him and bring him in. If that happens? Who knows? [Are] we talking about ‘what ifs’ now? It would certainly be a good thing.”
Burress was wearing a Philadelphia Phillies hat upon his release, and that will certainly be interpreted by some as a definitive sign that he wants to play in the City of Brotherly Love. It’s also possible that the New York Jets may take a look at him as a possible replacement for Braylon Edwards(notes). The St. Louis Rams desperately need receivers for second-year quarterback Sam Bradford(notes) … you can expect that Burress will be tied to just about every NFL team over the next few weeks.
Right now, for Burress, it’s just about getting his head around freedom and acclimating to a new chapter in his life. As for football, he’ll have to wait for an opening just like everyone else.