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Pro Football

Giants Say Burress’s Season Is Over

Published: December 2, 2008

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Plaxico Burress will not play for the Giants for the rest of the season. He has been suspended without pay, fined and placed on the reserve list for a nonfootball injury, the team announced Tuesday.

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Plaxico Burress played his last game of the season for the Giants on Nov. 23 in Arizona.

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In his last game of the season, Palxico Burress left with a sore hamstring in the first quarter, after a pass to him was broken up by Cardinals cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

The injury, a self-inflicted gunshot wound, occurred early Saturday morning at a nightclub in Manhattan. Along with other previous violations of team rules, Burress has displayed “conduct detrimental to the team,” the Giants said.

The decision is the latest in a downward spiral for Burress, an elite wide receiver who caught the winning touchdown pass in last season’s Super Bowl and signed a five-year, $35 million contract hours before the season opener.

Previously this season, Burress was suspended for one game and for two weeks of practice after missing a mandatory team meeting. He was held out of the first quarter of another game as punishment for missing a required medical treatment.

Burress arrived at Giants Stadium on Tuesday for medical treatment and left six hours later without speaking to reporters. His agent, Drew Rosenhaus, did not return a telephoned request for comment. Jerry Reese, the Giants’ general manager, said the decision to deactivate Burress was made after an examination by Dr. Scott Rodeo, one of the team physicians.

“Dr. Rodeo believes Plaxico would be out at least four to six weeks with the gunshot wound,” Reese said in a statement. “I had two conversations with Plaxico today, and it was obvious that he understood the magnitude of this situation. He knows that we are here to support him and help him get healthy.”

On Tuesday night, Richard Berthelsen, the general counsel of the National Football League Players Association, said the union could become involved in the case.

“We don’t think the Giants’ actions are consistent with the collective bargaining agreement,” he said in a telephone interview from Washington. “We will be discussing the matter with Plaxico and his representatives.”

When asked what might have violated union rules, Berthelsen said, “Let’s leave it at that.”

The suspension is a dramatic development for a team that has an 11-1 record and is widely considered the best in the N.F.L. The incident at the Latin Quarter nightclub and its aftermath have been harshly criticized by, among others, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.

The Giants said that Burress had also been fined “for multiple and repeated violations of club rules” but did not specify the amount. The Daily News reported Tuesday that it had seen a copy of his contract and that Burress could lose as much as $27 million of its value if he is not invited back.

Burress also met Tuesday with John Mara, the team president, and Coach Tom Coughlin.

“When I spoke with Plaxico, he expressed great remorse for letting down his teammates,” Mara said in the statement.

Burress arrived at Giants Stadium around 9:20 a.m. and left at about 3:15 p.m. and did not appear to limp. During that period, he also went to Manhattan to undergo a magnetic resonance imaging test before returning to the stadium, the team said.

Burress, who was not going to play last Sunday in a game at Washington because of a hamstring injury in his right leg, sustained a gunshot wound in the thigh of the same leg at the Latin Quarter when his 40-caliber Glock semiautomatic pistol accidentally discharged.

He was taken to NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center by middle linebacker Antonio Pierce, a captain and one of his close friends. Burress was booked, handcuffed and arraigned Monday in New York on two separate counts of a weapons charge.

He was released on $100,000 bail. He did not have a permit to carry a gun in New York. He is scheduled to return to Manhattan Criminal Court on March 31. If convicted, Burress could face a sentence of 3 ½ years to 15 years in state prison.

Burress’s lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, said Burress would plead innocent on both counts.

The police have sought to question Pierce for his role in the events at the nightclub and, later, at the hospital to which Burress was taken.

Michael Bachner, a lawyer for Pierce, said that he was confident that Pierce’s name would be cleared.

“Mr. Pierce acted reasonably under what were enormously stressful circumstances,” Bachner said. “He didn’t violate any laws.”

The Giants announced Tuesday that Pierce’s lawyer had been in contact with New York authorities and was arranging a meeting between them and Pierce. But Paul J. Browne, the Police Department’s chief spokesman, said late Tuesday afternoon that police investigators had yet to speak with Pierce.

“He hasn’t been produced,” Browne said. “The investigation continues on three fronts: the role of any of the other Giants’ personnel involved, the hospital’s role and what happened there, and the club.”

Michael D. Mohr, a spokesman for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, based in West Paterson, N.J., said his office was tracing the gun ownership at the request of the police in Totowa, N.J., where Burress lives.

Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw was also in the nightclub at the time of the shooting. The Giants said Monday that a lawyer for Bradshaw had been in contact with the New York police.

Burress had 35 catches for 454 yards and 4 touchdowns in 10 games this season. Although his production declined this year, he was often double covered, resulting in more space for other receivers and running backs.

Burress, who joined the Giants from Pittsburgh as a free agent in 2005, has occasionally been an enigma, even to his teammates. He has frequently been fined by the team and has refused to participate in minicamps during the off-season.

Many players have said they like him and admire his skills, but some have found him aloof and perplexing. Amani Toomer, another receiver and a captain, said earlier this season that Burress’s off-field issues had become a distraction.

Around the news media, Burress is generally approachable, but usually begins his interview sessions gradually, slowly dressing before a growing group, turning toward them his bare back displaying the tattooed words “Everything happens for a reason.”

The police in Totowa said earlier this year that they were twice called to Burress’s home for domestic disturbances, although no charges resulted. After his first suspension this season, Burress said he enjoyed his time off.

In an interview with the Fox television network last month, Burress tried to explain himself.

“I’m my own worst enemy,” Burress said. “The things that have happened to me, I have no one to blame but myself. That’s what makes Plaxico Burress Plaxico Burress.”

Al Baker and John Eligon contributed reporting.