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What a difference a year makes.
Exactly a year and two months from the date he hauled in the game winning 13-yard touchdown in Super Bowl XLII, the Giants cut ties with its embattled receiver.
This coming four months after he sustained a self-inflicted gun shot wound after his gun slid down his sweat pants in a Manhattan night cub and accidentally went off as he reached for it.
And the operative word in that sentence is “accidentally,” because Burress has somehow convinced himself that he is a victim.
Regardless of the fact that carrying an unlicensed gun in New York is illegal that carries a three-and-a- half-year sentence in jail, and that he was suspended and unable to play the last quarter of the season as a result of it, that’s all irrelevant in his eyes.
The only thing which matters to him is it was an “accident,” and because of that, he refuses to bear any responsibility and accountability for his actions.
Reports are now coming out as to why the Giants decided to let him go after patiently standing by him for the past four months, even after Burress’ agent Drew Rosenhaus, without the Giants’ permission, sent out an e-mail in February to the other 31 NFL teams that his receiver was available for a trade.
It appears that Burress has somehow convinced himself that he can beat his rap and avoid jail time.
I’m not sure how that delusional thought has inculcated itself in his mind, but it’s highly doubtful that this will be the case. In fact, everyone who has had this charge brought against them in New York over the past year has at least served some time after working out a plea.
And if Burress thinks he can rely on his star power, which had gotten dimmer and dimmer in the city after his irresponsible behavior cost the Giants dearly, and went out completely with his release on Friday, he’s in for a rude awakening.
There are 49 other states in America that you’d rather be caught with an unlicensed fire arm than New York.
But aside from this, what is looking like the final straw in the Giants decision to part ways was his inflexibility regarding his contract.
The Giants were adamant that Burress not go after the one million dollars they withheld as a result of his being suspended over the last month of the season.
But instead, they were prepared to offer him the opportunity to earn that money back— and the additional $29.5 million remaining from the contract—in 2009 and beyond, contingent upon him meeting their terms and conditions, i.e. being a team player, practicing, attending meetings, etc.
The Giants wanted to see remorse, accountability, and a desire on Burress part to put this incident behind him and move forward in a new direction. Instead, they got the same old immature act they’ve been accustomed to since he signed in 2005.
So they cut him loose.
It’s a shame that athletes like Burress don’t surround themselves with people who have their best interests at heart, and can provide proper advice into their decision making.
He’ll never again receive the type of contract which the Giants offered him last week.
He’s 31, on the downside of his career, and with the court date being pushed back to mid-June, the likelihood of him suiting up this year is about as slim as Jay Cutler and Josh McDaniels reconciling their differences anytime soon.
So he’ll probably be looking at a return to the league in 2010, at the age of 33.
And with his rap sheet, his penchant for not following team rules, and his being a liability on, and off the field, he’ll probably be looking at one-year deals, heavily laden with incentives, for the rest of his career.
But as for guaranteed money, not a chance.
And the Giants knew this; the lion’s share of his five-year, $35 million extension was not guaranteed.
New York offered him a great opportunity to play for a winner, another championship, and a chance to right his ship, but it required a change on his part.
But guys like Burress don’t change, and that’s the part that always leaves people shaking their heads.
He’d have been wise to consult Latrell Sprewell before turning down this latest offer.
Remember when Sprewell turned down a three-year, $21 million extension saying he “had to feed his family?” Well he never received another comparable offer after that one expired.
I have a feeling that Burress and Spree will have a lot in common five years from now.