The seducing, sky-scraping ability mixed with the troubled childhood, the troubled playing background, first at Michigan State and then in Pittsburgh, was always part of the Plaxico Burress/Giants package. The Giants knew this when they grabbed him in 2005. They knew it when they re-signed him for $35 million last season on opening day.
They knew it when Burress arrived late, if at all, for meetings. They knew it when he finagled his way out of practices due to "injuries." They knew it through his putting the word out via his agent this offseason that he was "available" for a trade and knew it through all of his legal woes.
"I don't think the Giants felt like Burress was doing all he could to get his life squared up. I think they were really offended by the fact that they couldn't reach a financial agreement with him based on the grievance he has against the organization, even after they felt that they had made significant process with his agent on several occassions." More ...
They had it when he insisted on receiving all $1 million of the signing bonus money that the Giants withheld after he shot himself in the leg in a nightclub last November. They had it when he refused to rework his current deal into a more performance-based one.
An arbitrator likely will decide by Wednesday what bonus Burress gets. But his attitude about it, his lack of clear communication with the Giants (particularly over the last several weeks), a lack of clear remorse in moving forward and clear understanding of how much the Giants were willing to forge ahead with him, take the public, critical hits for that, keep him in the framework -- well, all of that attitude was appalling to the Giants. In the end, it was ruinous.
But this addition by subtraction for the Giants is the best solution. Burress has the chance now to focus on his gun-related charges that could result in jail time. The Giants have the chance to particularly address the draft, free agency and trades knowing that wide receiver is a position of need. This is like aspirin for a headache, salve for a cut.
There is an identifiable peace that comes after such a brutal storm.
For weeks, they have been trying to settle this monetary dispute with Burress, and the longer it went, the more tangled it became. It says plenty that the Giants cut the player before the arbitrator ruled. No doubt, the more Burress' gun case unfolded, with Burress this week postponing his court date to June 15, the Giants had to be influenced by that. A problem that might have had a swifter resolution continued on. That dance the Giants have twirled with Burress for too long.
There are wide receivers that the Giants like in a draft full of potential playmaking ones. But the Giants know that relying on rookie wideouts is risky. They like their current crew of receivers but wonder how much they can and will step forward. The Giants will not pursue, via trade, Arizona's Anquan Boldin. Cleveland's Braylon Edwards? Now, stay tuned on that one.
The Giants will ask quarterback Eli Manning to do more. Much more. Better decisions and better throws and to help build whatever receiving cast they present in 2009. Most of all, the Giants and coach Tom Coughlin will not let the team rely upon excuses. Play with what you have, be the best of who you are and achieve team goals -- that mantra will be amped, and Coughlin will do the amping.
Burress spoiled the Giants. That supreme height, that wonderful size and arm reach and ability to force defenses to scheme his way.
The Giants need not look further than the Steelers' recent two Super Bowl championship teams to see that receiving difference-makers do not have to arrive in the form of a skyscraper. Something smaller and quicker and passionate and accountable will do. Look at Pittsburgh's Hines Ward, a Super Bowl MVP. Look at Pittsburgh's Santonio Holmes, a Super Bowl MVP.