Share This Page

Burress leaves N.Y. prison for uncertain NFL career

ROME, N.Y. — Former New York Giants star Plaxico Burress was released from prison today after spending nearly two years behind bars on a gun charge and headed to Florida to be with his family as he contemplates his chances of playing again in the NFL.

As he left Oneida Correctional Facility in central New York this morning, he hugged agent Drew Rosenhaus and shook hands. He was wearing a black sweatshirt, shorts, sneakers and a Philadelphia Phillies hat.

"I just want to thank God for bringing me through one of the most trying times in my life," he said to reporters outside the prison. "It's a beautiful day. It's a beautiful day to be reunited with my family. I want to go home and spend some quality time with them."

"I'd like to thank everybody for their prayers and words of encouragement," he said. "I'd like to thank all my fans all around the world for the thousands of letters, for their unwavering support. As far as football is concerned, if and when everything gets settled, when they get back on the field, I'll be ready."

He got into a black Range Rover and headed for the Rome, N.Y., airport where he was expected to fly home immediately.

His release came nearly two years after he arrived at the medium-security prison. Burress, who turns 34 in August, planned to travel to his Florida home to spend time with his wife, son and a daughter born while he was in jail. He'll continue working out while awaiting a resolution of the NFL labor dispute, said his attorney, Peter M. Frankel.

Burress, taken in the first round of the 2000 draft by the Steelers, pleaded guilty in August 2009 to attempted criminal possession of a weapon and was sentenced to two years in prison. He was released about three months early for good behavior.

Because he was a high-profile inmate, Burress was placed in a protective custody unit at the prison, which has 930 inmates, 20 in protective custody. While in prison, he completed an aggression management program and worked as a lawn and grounds laborer, according the state's Department of Correctional Services.

Burress violated prison rules and regulations three times: He lied to a guard about having permission to use the phone; gave another inmate a pair of black and silver sneakers that were deemed contraband; and had too many cassette tapes and an unauthorized extra pillow in his "filthy" cell.

Burress will be on parole for two years. He has to get and keep a job, undergo substance abuse testing, obey any curfew established by his Florida parole officer, support his family and undergo any anger counseling or other conditions required by his parole officer.

The lanky 6-foot-5 receiver had the world at his feet after catching a 13-yard pass from Eli Manning with 35 seconds to play to give the Giants a stunning 17-14 win over the undefeated New England Patriots in the 2008 Super Bowl.

His world fell apart nine months later when he walked into a Manhattan nightclub with a handgun tucked in the waistband of his pants. The weapon slipped down and discharged as Burress tried to grab it, injuring him in the thigh.

The wound was not serious. The backlash was.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg called for Burress to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and was irate that officials at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center treated Burress and failed to report the shooting, as required by law. A doctor who treated Burress was later suspended.

The gun was not licensed in New York or in New Jersey, where Burress lived. His license to carry a concealed weapon in Florida had expired in May 2008.

Rosenhaus said he has spoken to several teams about the wide receiver and expects him to play in the NFL again. He said Burress matured in prison and there are things he would do differently.

"He's learned an awful lot," Rosenhaus said. "He knows that he obviously made a mistake. To miss two NFL seasons in the prime of your career. To not be with your family, most importantly. To lose out on millions and millions of dollars. These are things that have forced him to certainly evaluate his life."

He said the teams he's talked to have not expressed any concerns about Burress. He did not say which teams or how many he spoke to.

"He's going to be a top free-agent," Rosenhaus said. "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."

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.