Analysis  

 

Plaxico Burress in a hurry to get back on the football field

As it pertains to diva receivers -- a subject that comes up regularly on "NFL AM" -- I've become the designated advocate for Plaxico Burress.

Unlike Chad Johnson, Burress is 6-foot-5. Unlike Terrell Owens, Burress actually played last season -- and pretty well, given the circumstances. He was released from prison June 6, 2011, after serving 20 months for gun possession, and still managed to play a full season for the Jets. He had 612 yards and, more important for any team that finds itself challenged in the red zone, eight touchdowns.

"I think it says a lot," Burress told me in our interview Friday morning. "I had maybe two months to get ready for the season."

He's quick to note he'd been away from the game longer than the prison sentence would imply. Burress hadn't played since November 2008. "It was really being out of football for almost three years," he said.

Resilient? Yes. Talented? Of course. But it makes you wonder even more: Why doesn't he have a job?

"You really don't know what's going on behind the scenes," he said.

I asked about a report out of Fort Lauderdale. It said he was ticketed for driving 50 miles per hour above the speed limit on a motorcycle.

"The report is wrong," he said.

What happened?

"I was driving a car," he said. "Driving a Ferrari, got pulled over. ... Got a speeding ticket."

"Ferraris do go fast," I noted.


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"A little bit."

Was it 50 miles over the limit?

"It was close to that," he said. "But, you know, going fast in a Ferrari, doing 100 in a Ferrari feels like 45."

Again, duly noted. But there's another number here. His age.

"You're 35," I reminded him. "Don't you want to be 36?"

"I'm looking forward to 36," said Burress, a father of two. "... I'm blessed."

That's not to say he's without regret. He watches the games on Sundays and still imagines himself commanding double coverage in the red zone, an excellent complement to some star in his prime, a Calvin Johnson, say, or a Brandon Marshall.

"Being able to add me to the other side takes a lot of pressure off those guys. ... That's a security blanket a lot of quarterbacks don't have," he said, citing last year's stats. "Production is production. It doesn't matter what age you are."

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Perhaps. But like most men approaching middle age, Plaxico Burress gauges his present self against his prime. He knows what was lost in incarceration.

"I didn't have the explosive legs that I had, sitting away for all that time," he said.

Burress sought to correct that this season. He began working out in earnest March 2, and goes hard "three or four times a week."

He has no preference where he plays. Rather, he seems chastened, out of demands: "It's about me just being able to do what I love, which is play football."

Will he get the chance? Anyone's guess.

"I can't change the past," he said. "I moved on. I wish a lot of other people would."

I wish him luck. Just the same, you don't move on at 100 miles per hour.

Follow Mark Kriegel on Twitter @MarkKriegel.

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