Tag:Plaxico Burress
Posted on: June 22, 2011 9:24 am
Edited on: June 22, 2011 9:27 am
 

Big Ben backs Plax return to Steelers

On Tuesday, my colleague Ryan Wilson wondered whether or not Plaxico Burress could end up back with his original team, the Pittsburgh Steelers. As Ryan noted, there are plenty of reasons to be skeptical about the possibility.

Apparently not one of them, though: Ben Roethlisberger's support. That's because Ben apparently is down with bringing Plax back to Pittsburgh.

"I've talked to Plax a number of times in the last couple of weeks," Roethlisberger said, per Scott Brown of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "I told him, 'Hey, if you came back here that would be awesome, but I'm just happy to see you playing again' because he's a good guy."

As Wilson pointed out, there are a number of problems with bringing Burress back to Pittsburgh. Namely, are there even enough footballs to go around in order to find out if Plaxico's still got it after 20 months in the hole?

Right now, the Steelers are staring at a wide receiver corps that features Mike Wallace, Hines Ward, Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown. (Presumably, Antwaan Randle El would be the casualty of a Burress signing.)

But maybe -- as we've noted in previous discussions tying Plax to Philly -- that's the best possible situation for the former first-rounder. After all, if he can step in as a big end-zone target, he'll only help to diversify an already stout group of wideouts.

And as far as public relations go, well, it's not as if dealing with off-field issues would be something new for the 2011 Steelers either.

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Posted on: June 21, 2011 11:09 am
Edited on: June 21, 2011 11:30 am
 

Could Plaxico Burress end up back in Pittsburgh?

Posted by Ryan Wilson

We spent a lot of time Monday explaining why the Steelers should pass on 36-year-old running back Tiki Barber (you'd think the phrase "36-year-old running back" would suffice in scaring off potential suitors; apparently not). But Barber's not the only former NFL player on the wrong side of 30 looking for gainful employment.

Plaxico Burress, fresh out of prison and more than two years removed from his last NFL game, wants to get back in the league. Interest has been lukewarm, although that may change once the lockout ends and free agency begins.

For now, though, Sports Illustrated's Peter King is "mind-boggled" by the tepid interest in Burress. King writes: "Just stupid. In the right offense he'll be the big target many teams lack, and, if healthy, he'll catch 60-plus balls and be a good deep threat. At worst? He's not going to cost much. What's the downside? Rams, Browns? Tell me. I'm dying to know."

Well, one team that appears to be interested also drafted Burress in 2000. Yep, the Steelers.

Twitastic details via Pittsburgh Post-Gazette beat reporter Gerry Dulac.

"Steelers coaches are interested in Burress but depends on price. They would release Randle El to make room."

We have little trouble believing the Steelers would release Antwaan Randle El. By the end of the season, he had lost his job to rookies Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown. And while Randle El is a valuable locker room presence, he doesn't have much left as a player.

Whether that means Burress could replace him is another conversation. Ben Roethlisberger has long supported Burress and lobbied the organization to keep Burress when his contract expired after the 2004 season.

Roethlisberger has also said previously that he likes throwing to tall targets, even though, on average, height doesn't have any bearing on a wide receiver's effectiveness. For recent proof, just look at Limas Sweed. Of course, if Dulac is right, Steelers coaches might consider Burress the type of player they were hoping Sweed would grow into.

In the end, we remain skeptical about Burress returning to Pittsburgh. The Steelers have Mike Wallace, Hines Ward and Sanders at the top of the depth chart, and Brown will likely be the No. 4 wide receiver. We're not sure there are enough snaps to go around. Or more importantly: what type of player Burress will be after spending more than 20 months in prison.

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Posted on: June 20, 2011 5:30 pm
Edited on: June 20, 2011 5:46 pm
 

Why Tiki to the Steelers doesn't make sense



Posted by Ryan Wilson

The three most talked about players in recent weeks -- Terrelle Pryor, Plaxico Burress and now Tiki Barber -- combined for exactly zero yards, zero touchdowns and zero games played last NFL season. Or the one before that. In fact, only Burress has seen an NFL field at all since 2007; Barber retired in 2006, and Pryor was in college until he had a sudden change of heart earlier this month.

All three are looking to get (back) into the league, and all appear to face long odds. To varying degrees, they come with baggage, and Burress and Barber are on the wrong side of 30. Our focus here is on Barber since Sports Illustrated's Peter King mentioned him in his latest Monday Morning Quarterback column.

Specifically, King spins the Wheel of Educated Guesses on possible Barber landing spots this summer, and it came up Pittsburgh.

Let's breakdown King's reasoning line by line:

"The Steelers have a head coach the Barber family knows well -- Mike Tomlin is close to twin Ronde Barber after coaching him in Tampa from 2001 to 2005 and also knows Tiki."

Tomlin also knows Michael Vick well; they both grew up in Newport News, Va. And you know what? When Vick was released from prison and was mounting a return to the NFL, the media connected the dots, and rumors of a Tomlin-Vick reunion followed. Vick eventually signed with the Eagles.

In August 2009, Tomlin told NFL Network's Deion Sanders why the Steelers didn't pursue Vick.

"I spent some time with Mike this summer. Mike's from my hometown, I've known Mike a long time," Tomlin said. "It was bigger than business for me. There were gangs and so forth when I grew up there, but when you played ball, you played ball. It was different. They respected what you did, and you kept it moving.

"Where we're from now gangsters play ball," he continued. "I believe that his redemption and his second opportunity is pivotal for those young guys from my area to see a guy come through the other side and make it right.

"In terms of [the Steelers being interested in Vick], to be quite honest with you, our quarterback is going through some things of his own right now, and he needs my complete support and undivided attention. So it just wasn't the appropriate time for us to consider something of that nature."

At the time, there were plenty of skeptics; Vick had been an inconsistent quarterback before the stint in Leavenworth, and the thinking went that his best chance at NFL redemption might come with a position change -- maybe running back, wide receiver or wildcat specialist.

Instead, Vick waited his turn and when he finally got on the field, he seized the opportunity, played out of his mind and led the Eagles to the playoffs. But Vick was also just 30 last season; he still possessed the physical skills that made him one of the NFL's most dangerous quarterbacks before dogs and the legal system led to his downfall.

"Tomlin wouldn't be afraid of the sideshow Tiki Barber might create, nor would he be shy about pulling the plug if the 36-year-old back couldn't beat out the likes of Mewelde Moore."

That's exactly what Tomlin would be afraid of. Referring again to Tomlin's 2009 conversation with Sanders about Vick: "…[T]o be quite honest with you, our quarterback is going through some things of his own right now, and he needs my complete support and undivided attention." It sounds like there's only so much "support and undivided attention" to go around.

And while the Steelers have had their share of distractions in recent years -- from Ben Roethlisberger twice being accused of sexual assault to James Harrison's $100,000 in fines last season to the more benign Jeff Reed duking it out with a Sheetz bathroom towel dispenser -- that doesn't mean the organization welcomes it. It's hard to tell sometimes, but they're not running a halfway house.

(Remember: Santonio Holmes -- the Super Bowl XLIII MVP -- was shipped out of town for several drug-related incidents, including an impending four-game suspension. No one thought the fifth-round pick the Steelers got from the Jets for Holmes was fair value, but the organization had run out of patience with the mercurial wide receiver.)

Putting aside the media circus Barber would bring with him to Latrobe, Pa., there's a bigger concern: He's 36. When Barber called it quits after the 2006 season, he was one of the best running backs in the league. But as we've written several times lately, running backs are among the easiest positions to replace. There's no reason to spend large chunks of the salary cap (or use high draft picks) to get a back when equivalent talent can usually be found on the cheap.

Any team willing to give Barber a shot would probably give him a contract offering the league minimum. But at 36, Barber has, what, a year, maybe two years left? That means clearing a spot on the 53-man roster, one previously occupied by a young, low-cost back being groomed for a larger role down the road. Instead, the Steelers get Barber, who's closer to 40 than 30, and hasn't played a meaningful game in nearly five years. It doesn't make sense.

For fun, we looked back the past 15 years at the RBs who were at least 35 years old and played in the NFL.



Not surprisingly, it's populated with fullbacks who made their living as glorified offensive lineman and weren't relied on to actually carry the ball. Of the 12 players listed, none cracked 1,000 rushing yards for a season, and when we look only at true running backs, we're left with five names: Emmitt Smith, Marcus Allen, Earnest Byner, Larry Centers and Hershel Walker.

Of these, only Allen was productive after the age of 35. (In fact, from age 35 to 37, Allen was a top-5 back, according to Football Outsiders. That's mind-blowing, frankly.)

In 2004, Smith ran for 937 yards, but compared to the other RBs in the league, he was well below average. Football Outsiders ranked him next to last among all RBs that season, ahead of the Bears' Anthony Thomas.

So even if Tomlin has a relationship with Barber and thinks he can handle the media scrutiny, the bottom line (because the NFL is a business, after all) remains the same: can Tiki produce?

History says no, unless you think Barber is the next coming of Marcus Allen. We do not.

The Steelers have a core of veteran stars; Tiki Barber would fit right in. The Steelers have a good back, Rashard Mendenhall, but no back-of-the-future type who Barber would be robbing playing time from. And one NFL source tells me Barber really wants a shot to play in Pittsburgh.

We have no doubt that Barber wants to play in Pittsburgh. NFL Network's Albert Breer hears that Barber wouldn't mind suiting it up in New England, either.

Regarding Pittsburgh's "core of veteran stars," why would Tiki "fit right in," as King suggests? Here's what CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman wrote last month, after Barber compared himself to Anne Frank:

"I covered Barber for most of his career and he remains one of the most versatile backs I've seen. He was also among the most arrogant. Most Giants players hated Barber. I mean, hated him. They thought he was a pompous putz on a lifelong journey to show the world he was smarter than most of his football peers."

The Patriots have a history of taking flyers on guys with character concerns (Corey Dillon and Randy Moss immediately come to mind), but that's not the Steelers' M.O.

But maybe this time is different. Maybe Tomlin makes an exception for Barber, who admitted that depression led him back to football after he couldn't deal with losing his $2 million-a-year gig with NBC. Now, he wants another shot at NFL glory.

Still, we can't get past Barber sounding as if he's coming out of retirement for all the wrong reasons. And even though he's not the type of player the organization usually pursues in free agency, perhaps the Rooneys will have a sudden change of heart. We just wouldn't count on it. Since, you know, the Steelers said months ago that they weren't interested.

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Posted on: June 18, 2011 5:12 pm
Edited on: June 18, 2011 5:26 pm
 

Hot Routes 6.18.11: Getting locked in a bank



Posted by Josh Katzowitz

  • Though he was asked over and over again the other day if he had any interest in procuring the services of free agent WR Plaxico Burress, Jets coach Rex Ryan artfully dodged each inquiry and never really answered.
  • In case you wanted to see what the Packers Super Bowl ring looks like, it’s right here in living color. It’s rather, um, large and diamond-y.
  • The Florida Times Union opines that the NFL should consider waiving the blackout rule for at least the first four regular-season games. Do it for the fans, Gene Frenette writes.
  • Wade Phillips didn’t just take the Texans defensive coordinator job to be closer to home. He took it because he thought there was great upside to that unit.
  • Ah, the slow clap. This one was for Redskins LB London Fletcher being late to practice last week. Check out the video below.



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Posted on: June 16, 2011 12:17 pm
Edited on: June 16, 2011 12:31 pm
 

Coach on Plaxico: he's 'close to average'

Posted by Ryan Wilson

The headline on Matt Bowen's NationalFootballPost.com post says it all: "Do we need to slow down the talk on Plaxico?"

Yes, we probably do. Since Plaxico Burress was released from prison last week the discussion has been more about potential landing spots than concerns that, you know, he might not have much left in the tank.

That's not to say issues haven't been raised -- they have -- just that the conversation usually turns to the most recent jailhouse-to-penthouse success story: Michael Vick. There's no denying Vick's impact on the Eagles last season, and there were plenty of skeptics when the team signed him.

But Vick's the exception -- and exceptionally gifted.

Before Burress' stint upstate, he was known for being tall, not for his athleticism. Two years removed from an actual NFL game, Plax is still tall but he's probably lost a step, too. Bowen admits that "I like the idea of Plaxico Burress aligned as the X receiver in my offense on 3rd and medium (think 3-step passing game) and in the red zone where you can throw the slant and the fade on the goal line."

But after talking to NFL coaches and scouts, Bowen found that "[T]here isn’t an overwhelming amount of desire from what I am hearing to run out and bring this guy in once the lockout is lifted. If anything, more questions than answers on what Plax can provide to your roster in 2011."

And an NFC coach told Bowen that he thought Burress would be "close to average," adding that he was never a great route runner, just a product of the Giants' offensive system.

One of the great ironies is that people talk about Plax's red-zone potential, especially on goal-line fade routes and jump balls. The fact that he excelled at neither during his five-year career in Pittsburgh infuriated fans, and his drop of an end-zone touchdown pass in the AFC Championship game against the Patriots in January 2005 pretty much solidified that belief. Of course, Burress made the biggest catch in recent Giants history -- an end zone grab over Patriots cornerback Ellis Hobbs in the Super Bowl -- so maybe it's now part of his repertoire.

Either way, given the tepid response to Burress leads us to believe that Bowen's right: There won't be much of a market for him. Then again, maybe it's pre-free agency posturing by teams jockeying for position to sign Plax, though, honestly, we doubt it. It's more likely the case that coaches and general managers legitimately aren't that interested in a 34-year-old player who hasn't seen the field since 2008.

But as Bowen points out: We'll keep talking about it because it's June and we're in the middle of a labor dispute. There's not much else going on.

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Posted on: June 16, 2011 9:08 am
Edited on: June 16, 2011 10:13 am
 

Coughlin not paying attention to Burress comments

Posted by Ryan Wilson

Tom Coughlin doesn't sound like he's losing sleep over Plaxico Burress' recent comments. Burress, who played for the Giants before spending more than 20 months in prison for carrying a gun without a permit (that he shot himself with it was more embarrassing than illegal), recently told ESPN's Stephen A. Smith that, "My situation in New York, me and my coach, had an ambivalent relationship to say the least. Some things that I didn't agree with, with the way he went about things. And the only way to show my way was to just rebel. Is that who I am? No."

ProFootballTalk.com's Mike Florio writes that "we’ve heard that Burress was fined upwards of 50 times in 2008 alone for a variety of infractions." Pretty sure that qualifies as rebelling.

(Of course, Florio also tries to connect the dots to Burress possibly landing with his original team, the Steelers. There's a better chance Pittsburgh brings Tommy Maddox out of retirement.)

Coughlin's response (via the New York Post): "I don't pay any attention to it. … It is what it is. Maybe he's sending me along a badge of honor. How do I know?"

Hey, Tom's ambivalent, too!

While a badge of honor probably isn't in Coughlin's future, he sounded sincere when wishing Burress the best.

"As I've said many times, I'll stay with the same line: I hope he gets some normalcy in his life and has a chance to spend some time with his family and that he gets to know his kids once again," said Coughlin. "His wife has done a tremendous job of holding that family together for the last two years. She deserves some help."

Coughlin was also asked about the lockout. And like everyone else, he's frustrated. "We're getting anxious. We've seen so much time come and go. I try not to look back at our rookies, the fact that we haven't even had the chance to teach them what our expectation level is. These guys are being hurt more than anyone else."

Maybe someone should put Coughlin in the next super-secret owner-player meeting and let him give his Matt Dodge speech. If that doesn't scare both sides into a new CBA then the season is already lost.

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Posted on: June 13, 2011 8:00 pm
Edited on: June 13, 2011 8:46 pm
 

Plaxico Burress thinks Jets are 'appealing'

Posted by Ryan Wilson

Free man Plaxico Burress said at a press conference Monday that he no longer owns guns, which means that if he's ever again shot in the thigh at a Manhattan nightclub, it won't be at his own doing.

Burress' media tour also included a sit-down with ESPN's Stephen A. Smith, where the former Giants wide receiver called the Jets an "appealing" option, although he wanted to make it clear that he's open to playing anywhere. (The feeling, it seems, isn't universally mutual.)

"Ever since I came to New York, the fans have embraced me," Burress told Smith. "It is a great city and a great town. It will always be a special place to me regardless of what happens. I can't say the Jets or Philly or anywhere of that nature, but I am going to make a decision that is best for me and my family. It may not be the best team but put yourself as a piece to the puzzle and say what's the best chance I have to win a championship."

In late May, a week before Burress was released from prison, we wrote about the likelihood that the Jets would pursue him in free agency.

The Jets have proven time and again that they are unafraid to hitch their wagon to players with baggage (apparently, there's plenty of room on the wagon for both). Santonio Holmes, Antonio Cromartie and Braylon Edwards are the most recent examples, and they helped the Jets to their second consecutive AFC Championship Game appearance last January. Coach Rex Ryan and general manager Mike Tannenbaum know what they're doing.

There is also the possibility that Edwards and Holmes could be lost via free agency should there be a season. That explains the interest in Randy Moss, although neither Moss nor Burress offer Mark Sanchez quite the dynamism that Edwards and Holmes provided a year ago.

Last Friday, NFL Network's Jason La Canfora wrote that "The Jets won't fight that hard to keep [Edwards] -- that tells you more than enough." Which leaves open the possibility -- however slim -- that Burress could end up there. And if it does happen, he thinks he can help Mark Sanchez become a better quarterback in much the way he helped Eli Manning during his stint with the Giants.

"Eli has won a championship, and the crazy thing about it is that Mark Sanchez almost gets more pub than the world champion quarterback," Burress said. "And I'm looking at it from afar. The man went out and led the organization to a Super Bowl, but for some reason I guess Mark Sanchez is supposed to be better than the guy that has already won one."

Translation: Even from prison, it's obvious that Mark Sanchez isn't much of an NFL quarterback.

That's a joke, but this isn't: Burress' observations about punishments fitting crimes are spot on.

"You got guys (in there) that are never going home," Burress said of his fellow inmates. "Rapists, murderers, pedophiles, everything that is associated with jail and crime, I was there with them. There were 22 or 23 of us guys on a unit, and I looked at myself and my situation and I was saying, am I really here for what happened to me?

"Looking at what some of those guys were in there for, I didn't think I deserved to be there, but at the same time I was looking at it like, I am going home. Some of these guys are not going home."

Other than New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, you'd be hard-pressed to find someone who disagreed with Burress.

Whatever, that chapter of his life is behind him. Hopefully, the experience makes him a better person. And if Plax is looking for a way to give back, we have a suggestion: How about organizing a "Scared Straight" session for Kenny Britt. Because as it stands, the laws of probability aren't in Britt's favor. It's not a matter of if he'll land in jail, but for how long.

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Posted on: June 13, 2011 1:35 pm
Edited on: June 13, 2011 1:50 pm
 

Burress says he doesn't own any more guns

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Free agent WR Plaxico Burress, who just got out of prison after infamously shooting himself in the leg in 2008, says he doesn’t own a firearm in his home and he no longer carries one on his person either.

That’s what he told media, including the Newark Star Ledger, today during a press conference at the National Urban Center, in Manhattan. He was on hand for a scheduled appearance, during which he signed a pledge to mentor young adults. He also spoke to them about the dangers of firearms.
Plax: a free man


“With that, not owning one and not carrying one, I know I put myself in a better position in life and with safety and with the people in the community,” Burress said.

His 20-month stint in prison caused him to rethink his values, Burress said.

First, he had to get past the question of “Why me?” Then, he began to focus on what he could do to improve himself as a citizen. That, he figured, was the best way to handle himself while he waited for his release date.

“Look at my situation,” Burress said. “Ever since I was 7 years old, I thought of playing football, back in 1984, and my goal was to be an NFL player and accomplish great things – win a Super Bowl and things like that. And I made a bad decision, and it can all be taken away from you so quick, literally in the blink of an eye. You have to be cognizant of every decision that you make and every decision you make poses a consequence. And with that being said, you have to make the right choice.”

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