Now that he is out of prison and back in the real world, Plaxico Burress has some self-reflecting to do. First and foremost he needs to figure out how he is going to grow from the 20 months he spent in jail, first as a man then as a football player. He needs to concentrate on how to be a better father to his children and a better husband to his wife before worrying about anything related to football. He needs to regain trust from his family after putting them through a situation they shouldn’t have ever had to endure. Once he overcomes those obstacles, then and only then, should he start thinking about getting back on the football field.
In some cases, prison can change a person. It can change the way they view the world, what they consider to be important in life and how they want to continue to live their life after they get back into the real world. Just ask Michael Vick. Vick had some major issues before being sent to prison for heavily profiting off a dogfighting operation he and a few buddies ran on his Virginia property. After spending 19 months in jail, Vick stepped back into the world a changed man. Since his release, he has not only done things to change his personal image including becoming a spokesman for various organizations such as the Humane Society, he has also rejuvenated his football career in a way that is sometimes hard to fathom. Plaxico, start taking some notes.
It seems weird to be suggesting that someone follow Vick’s path on how to become a better person. But everything he has done from getting out of jail to this point makes me believe he’s the guy to model. And like him or not, there’s no arguing he’s done everything right on and off the football field to restructure his image. Vick even reached out to Burress earlier this week by saying, “Hopefully he’ll use my situation as an example and go out and try and emulate what I’ve done in his own way. That’s what it’s about. It’s about growth and it’s about learning. Things in life happen in stages and those are some things you have to go through as an individual.”
Burress won’t be under as much public scrutiny as Vick was based on what they did to get put in jail. But he will be in a similar situation when it comes to returning to the NFL. First, Burress is going to have to find a team that wants him, which shouldn’t be a problem considering his level of talent. Next, he will need to prove that he can still play at or above the level he was when he left. That’s the hard part. The one thing that helps Burress is that given the position he plays, he will still be able to be effective even though he will turn 34-years-old in August. He still has the chance to be the No. 1 guy depending on which teams ends up signing him. But at the very least, I see him going to a team where he is no less than a No. 2.
As of now, there are a few teams that look to be possible landing spots for Burress. Some of the them include the Eagles, Jets, Rams, Redskins and Vikings. The ideal place for Burress would be in Philadelphia with Vick and the Eagles. Even thought they already have a No. 1 receiver in DeSean Jackson, Burress would still make an impact as a big, strong, possession receiver that Vick could go to in the red zone. Jackson and Burress have two totally different styles of play and would work nicely together on a team that desperately needs a receiver like Burress. Plus I’m sure Vick would like the opportunity to work with Burress both on and off the field and help him get through this tough period in his life.
But no matter where Burress goes, it’s definitely going to take some time get back into the swing of things. He’s going to have to get used to playing the game at full speed, taking hits and getting his timing down with whatever quarterback he will be catching balls from. It may take him about a full season to make any kind of real impact on a team no matter where he goes, but I still think Philly makes the most sense right now as long as they are willing to sign Burress in the coming weeks or months.
Only time will tell what kind of comeback, if any, Burress will make. If he’s learned anything from Vick’s journey back it’s that he needs to find himself first as a person then as a football player. It was tough to figure out how Vick would come back from his stint in prison. I’m willing to bet a lot of people didn’t think he had the drive and discipline to become who he is today, a person who seems to genuinely care about making people aware of the mistakes he made so they don’t make the same ones as well as one hell of a football player. Burress can do the same thing, but only he has the power to make it happen.
Submitted by Steve Giles