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Burress says he met two-year prison sentence with disbelief

  • By Aron Angel NFL.com
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CULVER CITY, Calif. -- Plaxico Burress has seen the view from the top of life, so when he suddenly found himself behind bars, he couldn't believe how low he had sunk so quickly.

Little over a year after his touchdown catch in Super Bowl XLII capped the Giants' 17-14 upset of the previously undefeated New England Patriots in February 2008, Burress was imprisoned on a felony weapons charge, the result of him accidentally discharging an unlicensed handgun in a Manhattan nightclub.

"To go on the other side of that wall, to be on the inside of that fence, knowing what your world and life is supposed to be on the other side, when they close that door behind you, you say to yourself, 'Is this really serious?' " Burress told Fran Charles in an exclusive interview on NFL Network's "NFL Total Access" on Thursday. "I actually said to myself a couple times when I first went in, 'You know what? Somebody's going to come and get me tomorrow.' "

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The wide receiver said he originally expected to serve at most a four- to six-month sentence for reckless endangerment and that it took some time for him to accept the reality of his situation -- a two-year prison sentence. Burress was released in June, three months early for good behavior.

Burress said he relied on the support of his wife, former teammates and mentor Tony Dungy to make it through the most difficult period of his life. Among the teammates who visited Burress at Oneida Correctional Facility in upstate New York were Brandon Jacobs, Osi Umenyiora, David Tyree, Gibril Wilson, Amani Toomer, and Michael Strahan.

"It was just good to see those guys," Burress said. "Me being in that situation, me being at the lowest point in my life, to have those guys support me, it really meant a lot."

Burress described his prison time as "an out-of-body experience" that changed him for the better. He said his approach to life now is about patience, something he'll have to show plenty of as he attempts to return to the NFL.

Burress, who'll turn 34 in August, understands it will be a long road back to the field, but he hasn't lost faith that he'll complete his comeback.

"I understand me. I understand the drive," said Burress, who turns 34 next month. "I love to play this game. It's definitely a privilege to play. You go out there on Sunday, where else would you rather be on NFL Sunday to come out of a tunnel, performing in front of millions of people? At no time did I ever think my career was over. I was determined to get back."

Exactly where he'll end up this season is unclear as Burress and his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, wait on the NFL lockout to end before they can dive into free agency with other high-profile receivers, including Sidney Rice, Santonio Holmes, Braylon Edwards and former Giants teammate Steve Smith. Until then, Burress won't stop dreaming about suiting up in different uniforms, including possibly that of the Houston Texans -- one team thrown out Thursday as a possible landing spot.

"When you say Houston, all I can say is 'Wow,' " Burress said. "That's all I can say, because I give respect where respect is due. And I believe Andre Johnson is the best wide receiver in football. ... The way he's playing down in Houston, they're getting everything going in the right direction. Matt Schaub has really taken off as an elite quarterback. I think Arian Foster is one of the top-five running backs in this league. I think that team is bound for the playoffs this year and looking forward to great things."

Burress totaled 244 receptions and 39 touchdowns in four seasons with the Giants, leading some to believe the Jets would be willing to give him the opportunity to stay in New York.

Burress said he would welcome the opportunity to play in green, his favorite color dating to his Michigan State days.

"(Jets owner) Woody Johnson has been doing a great job running that organization," Burress said. "(Coach) Rex Ryan definitely has that team going in the right direction. They're definitely right on the cusp of, I think, going to a Super Bowl and eventually wining it."

Speculation that Burress could team up with Michael Vick in Philadelphia has persisted ever since the receiver was seen wearing a Phillies hat upon his release from prison.

"Everybody's playing into the hat," Burress said. "To be honest, (Phillies shortstop) Jimmy Rollins is one of my favorite players in baseball. I can say that. I can say that the 'P' stands for Plaxico. ... I'll let everybody on the outside figure it out."

Still, Burress would welcome the opportunity to join forces with Vick, also an ex-felon, who has offered guidance.

"He was telling me to stay strong, everything will work itself out," Burress said. "To see him go out on the football field and do some of the things that he's been able to do and take his game to the next level as a quarterback, pretty much going through a situation similar to mine, being away from the football game for two years -- it gave me hope."

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