STUCK IN PRISON and his NFL career derailed, Plaxico Burress insisted he’d be back one day.
Rex Ryan and the New York Jets are giving him that second chance.
“I’m just grateful,” a confident yet humble Burress said last night. “I’m excited about the opportunity and I’m going to give them everything I’ve got because they put their trust in me to be able to come in and contribute and have an impact.”
The former Super Bowl star with the Giants signed a one-year deal with the Jets yesterday after recently being released from prison after serving 20 months on a gun charge.
Burress, who turns 34 on 12 August, caught the game-winning touchdown in the Giants’ upset of the unbeaten New England Patriots in the 2008 Super Bowl, before his career derailed after he accidentally shot himself in a New York nightclub later that year.
“When something’s taken away from you that you love, you know you love it more,” he said.
“You learn that playing in this business is definitely a privilege. I definitely miss being away from the game and the guys and being able to compete every Sunday with the best athletes in the world.”
Now, the Jets are hoping Burress can revive his career the way Michael Vick did with the Eagles.
Vick served 18 months in prison for his involvement in a dogfighting ring before returning to football in 2009. He was eased back into things by the Eagles before taking over as the starting quarterback last year and capping a terrific season by being selected as the AP’s Comeback Player of the Year.
Burress has a chance to make even more of an immediate mark for the Jets. He’ll join the recently re-signed Santonio Holmes as one of Mark Sanchez’s top receivers.
“I’ve never played with a guy on the other side of me who was that explosive,” Burress said of Holmes. “It’s going to be fun. I think we’re going to drive some defensive coordinators crazy — which way they want to roll their coverage in certain situations, in the red zone, so it’ll be interesting to see how teams match up against us.”
Because of the NFL’s post-lockout rules, Burress can’t practice with the team until Thursday. But clearly, the Jets are confident — sight unseen — that he has a lot left as they try for a Super Bowl run even though he hasn’t played in the NFL since 2008.There will be plenty of questions: How soon can he be in football shape? Has he lost a significant amount of speed? Does he still have those sure hands? Can he handle the media spotlight of being back in New York?
“I feel I’m in great shape,” he said, adding that he’ll surely be a little rusty. “I think a lot of people are going to be surprised with my conditioning and different things I’ve been doing in South Florida to get myself back to where I want to be, and that’s definitely to get back to playing at a high level real soon.”