When Plaxico Burress is released from a New York state prison Monday, his high school coach and friend, Cadillac Harris, is confident the 33-year-old won't have trouble finding work and a fresh start.
"I think he's going to be a much different guy coming out, a much more mature person," Harris told The Virginian-Pilot. "His decision-making on and off the field, and his relationship with his family should be much better. I enjoyed seeing his spiritual development, his awareness of what's taken place and what's valuable to him."
Burress will be released from the Oneida Correctional Facility, a medium-security prison, after serving 20 months after pleading guilty in 2009 to attempted criminal possession of a weapon following a November 2008 incident in which he accidentally shot himself in the leg at a New York nightclub. He is being released 3 months and 16 days early for good behavior.
"I didn't sense bitterness in him," Harris told The Virginian-Pilot. "He knows he made a bad decision. He knows he's a victim of the circumstances he put himself in."
As part of his sentence, Burress will be on probation for the next 2 years. According to parole authorities in New York and Florida, Burress will reside in Lighthouse Point, Fla., and must report to his assigned parole officer within 24 hours after he arrives in South Florida. Once he has arrived in Florida, he will be subject to a nightly curfew. If he wants to travel anywhere for an NFL tryout or a vacation, he must obtain permission.
Harris visited Burress in prison in April and told The Virginian-Pilot the receiver has "at least eight NFL teams" showing interest in talking to him once the lockout ends. Burress turns 34 in August.
Giants running back Brandon Jacobs, one of Burress' closest friends, doesn't believe his team is one of them.
"No, he ain't coming to the Giants," Jacobs said Thursday, according to The Star-Ledger. "That's out of the question. He's got options, and it's good he can weigh his options. I would love him to be a part of the Giants, but I don't think that's even on his plate."
What's on Burress' plate, Jacobs believes, is joining the NFC East rival Philadelphia Eagles -- a possibility that has been recently speculated and later supported by the team's quarterback, Michael Vick, who served 19 months in a federal prison on dogfighting charges -- only 73 days less than Burress' jail time.
"I would hate to see him go to where I think he's going to go, from talking to him," said Jacobs, who speaks to Burress weekly and helps his wife and children. "It's pretty tough to deal with all those different combinations that they can present. ...
"(The Eagles) have a lot of dynamic players down there. "It wouldn't be a bad thing, he thinks, to go down there, because he wants to win. He wants to have a shot to win a Super Bowl right away. I don't know if that's the right mixture for him to do it, but they definitely have a lot of talent."
"If I were Plaxico, I don't think I would want to ...," Diehl said. "If I were in that position, in order to move on and start fresh, you have to get back to square one. That's getting back to playing football. That's getting back to yourself, and not only enjoying your family, but enjoying your life and being happy again. For him, I think that's somewhere else."
Not every Giant dismisses the idea of Burress returning to the team. Eli Manning, who threw the game-winning TD pass to Burress in Super Bowl XLII in February 2008, expressed his support for the receiver last month, saying, "I'm excited that he's getting out, and if the Giants or another team give him a shot, I'll look forward to getting him back into football." Defensive end Justin Tuck said Thursday that "I would love to have Plaxico back in Giants blue."
Even so, Jacobs is adamant that his friend will find a new NFL home.
"I just want to be happy for him," Jacobs said. "I just want him to be super happy that he's out, that he's a free man and he's able to continue his career."