It’s one thing to take the high road with a troubled player when things are going well. If you had asked any Giants fan while their team coasted to the NFC’s number 1 seed if they wished they had Plaxico Burress back, they would have laughed at you. “That bum? He’s a locker room cancer. The G-Men are a team, and one player’s not bigger than the team. Big Blue’s all about character.” But ask them about Burress after getting knocked out of the playoffs far too early, and they might whistle a different tune.
Going into Sunday, all you heard from the team was how they didn’t miss Burress, how he was a distraction, how they could win without him. Now that the Giants’ clear lack of a receiving threat has been exposed, there are rumblings from the front office that, barring legal troubles, they’d like the “locker room cancer” to return. So not only did the Giants lose the game yesterday, but they might lose the moral high ground, too.
From THE NEWARK STAR-LEDGER:
“Obviously, it’s hard to replace that,” (Giants GM Jerry) Reese said in a nearly-empty locker room. “The guy has a presence out there and when you lose that, teams play you differently. We made some adjustments, but today we had opportunities. We just didn’t make enough plays.”
The big question, then, is whether the Giants’ struggles without Burress have nudged the team toward bringing him back, provided he doesn’t get sent to prison for illegal gun possession.
Before Burress’ suspension, Eli Manning had completed 62 percent of his passes and had a passer rating of 91.3. In the five games after Burress’ season was ended by the team’s placing him on the non-football injury list, Manning completed only 54 percent of his passes and had a dreadful rating of 63.6.
“If everything goes all right, yeah,” Reese said when asked if Burress could return next season. “Absolutely.”
I like that throwaway line about how this is all moot if Plax is in prison. I wonder if, in today’s NFL, fantasy football shoudn’t have an “incarcerated” slot to go along with the IR slot.
But with Amani Toomer pushing 60, and the free agent wide receiver class consisting of T.J. Houshmandzadeh and a pile of crap, it’s not surprising the Giants would consider retaining Burress’ services. But let’s cut all this pretending that off-the-field behavior is more important than on-the-field performance.