On the Mark: New York Giants in Real Trouble Without Plaxico Burress

Mark KriegelCorrespondent IDecember 16, 2008
The most depressing stat of the week?

Easy. That would pertain to the New York Giants, who are now 0-2 without Plaxico Burress.

Less than two weeks ago, the Giants—who've been limited to a single, meaningless offensive touchdown in their last eight quarters—were easily the best team in football. But now you have to wonder how much a bad guy will cost a good team? Will Burress' absence cost the team its shot at another Super Bowl?

In the not-so-distant past, most people seemed satisfied the ne'er-do-well receiver had finally gotten his just desserts. Even in the best of times, Burress couldn't be counted on for matters so mundane as team meetings and practices. But only after his apparently unlicensed Glock accidentally went off in a Manhattan nightclub did the team decide to take any punitive action. After his arrest on gun charges, Burress was deactivated without pay for the remainder of the season. Then there were reports that the Giants could void his recently-signed $36 million contract.

Great, you said. The more you know about Burress the more difficult it became to conjure any sympathy for the guy. Last week the New York Post reported on his big night out. First, (along with teammates Antonio Pierce and Ahmad Bradshaw) he went to a strip joint (where else?) and "guzzled two bottles of top-shelf tequila, and gobbled the staff's Thanksgiving dinner."

Nice. Just what you want on the streets of a crowded city: a guy with a .40 caliber pistol who's just gone through two bottles of Patron. What's more, he never paid for a thing (another shock), and is notoriously cheap with lap dancers. In a fair world, the D.A. would add a count of bad-tipping to the charges, and the proceeds of his forfeited contract distributed among waitresses and busboys he's stiffed.

Still, anyone with even a little taste for retribution could enjoy a measure of satisfaction with the real-life outcome. What began as a near-tragedy now felt like a feel-good story, or at least, a tale of justice served. Besides, the NFL's defending champs had already won without Burress, who was serving a suspension for insubordination when New York played Seattle early in the season. He might've caught the winning touchdown in last year's Super Bowl, but the Giants didn't need him anymore.

This was the real wishful thinking. The Giants had some protection problems the other night against the Cowboys, what with Eli Manning being sacked seven times. And, yes, Brandon Jacobs is out, and with him, a good part of their ground game. But that falls short of a full explanation as to the Giants' suddenly disappearing offense.

Manning was 18-for-35, 191 yards and two interceptions against Dallas. The week before, against the Eagles, he was 13-for-27, 123 yards. The touchdown he did throw went to backup tight end Darcy Johnson with 15 seconds left in the game.

It's not that complicated. There's no one to post up defensive backs. There's no one to spread the field. Amani Toomer, who seems like an awfully nice guy, might warrant a defense's attention. But Burress, a bad guy, demands its respect.

That's the problem with trying to turn a ballplayer's life into a morality tale. It often lacks for a moral.


On the Mark


He may not be able to pronounce "nuclear," but at least his cat-like reflexes are intact. (AP Photo / Associated Press)

You see the Iraqi "journalist" throw his shoes at George Bush?

Might've been the president's finest moment.

I mean, the way he just dipped his shoulder and got out of the way. Textbook.

If De La Hoya could've slipped a punch like that, he might've had a chance.

By the way, too bad that reporter wasn't a lefty. Scott Boras could've already gotten him five mil per.

I was finally cured of my "Californication" habit when the lead character wrote a book between episodes.

You know who's most upset about CC Sabathia getting $161 million?

The guys who make treadmills and ab-blasters.

Saw an excellent documentary, "Breaking the Huddle: The Integration of College Football," that airs tonight on HBO.

Then I read that Auburn hired Gene Chizik, 5-19 at Iowa State, over Turner Gill, one of four black coaches in Division I, a guy who merely transformed Buffalo (Buffalo!) into the MAC champion.

Think I'll send my screener to the Tigers' Athletic Department.


If you have to do that with your lips to hoist the trophy, then the trophy is too big. Capice? (Alex Brandon / Associated Press)

No one's talking about the human cost of the canceled Arena League season. It's so bad there's word that Philadelphia Soul owner Jon Bon Jovi might even go back on tour.

This just in, broadcaster Ian Eagle's weekly schedule: San Diego at K.C., the Nets at Toronto, Utah at New Jersey, Indianapolis at Jacksonville, Dallas back at the Meadowlands, Buffalo at Denver, Green Bay at Chicago.

So, please, no more about the ballplayers' work ethic.

Reggie Theus has become the sixth NBA coach fired in the last month or so, and this just isn't fair. I mean, how can you fire a guy before the season begins?

Me? I'm just looking forward to Christmas Day.

Three months of exhibitions is too long.

From the Los Angeles Times: "Center Alfred Aboya missed a workout because of his class schedule."

Hey, isn't that a violation of NCAA rules?

Chargers general manager A.J. Smith has an interesting theory on his team's underachieving ways. Don't blame Norv Turner. Don't blame LaDainian Tomlinson.

"...nobody can run if there's no space," he told Billy Witz. "We need to take a look at the line."

Oh. And whose job was that?

Press releases accompanying freak accidents—like the long ago news that Joe Namath's road roommate slipped in the shower when in fact he was slashed in the neck—are almost always bogus.

So I believe Derrick Rose accidentally rolled over on a knife while eating an apple in bed and had to get 11 stitches, the way I believe Terrell Owens when he says the media fabricated his feud with Tony Romo and Jason Witten.

Mets GM Omar Minaya says there are two superior closers in the majors. "In the end," he says, "There is Mariano and then Frankie."

Obviously, he missed that Red Sox-Angels playoff series.

I'm not saying my kid is growing up soft here in Southern California, just that she thought school would be rained out on Monday.

This article originally published on FOXSports.com.

Read more of Mark's columns here.


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