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Neil Best leaves no stone unturned in the world of sports media.

TV analysts take turns taking shots at Plaxico Burress

(Credit: Watchdog)

I wrote my Tuesday newspaper column in Monday's paper. Why? Because the Plaxico Burress stuff was timely, and because my boss asked me to.

For some reason I forgot to include in the column a mild criticism of Antonio Pierce by his friend and now Fox analyst Michael Strahan. Here it is:

"As a captain, Antonio Pierce out at 1:30 in the morning, it’s not a great thing to be out that early on a Friday night/Saturday morning when you have a game on Sunday."

Strahan also quoted Pierce as telling him this: "'I didn’t know he had a gun. I was surprised he had a gun.' When you’re surprising the guys you’re going out with, who go out with you quite a bit, that really shows that he’s in a place right now where he needs help."

Usually I follow the pregame shows by reading the quotes the networks send after the fact, but this time I actually watched, knowing Plax would be a big topic.

Click below for quotes the TV types sent on that subject.

(The Strahan stuff from Fox does not include everything he said about Burress, and in some cases his quotes are mashed together with pieces missing, but it basically captures the spirit and content.)Michael Strahan of Fox: “He messed up. One of the first things the Giants do during training camp is bring in the police and they tell you, ‘if you have a gun here at training camp, give it us. We will hold it for you. We don’t care if you have a permit, it does not matter…’ You have that understanding and you know what the ramifications are. Instead of worrying about what the NFL or the Giants can do to you, what the state of New York can do to you is a lot scarier than worrying about a football career. Everybody (in Giants organization) is surprised. Regardless of all the information and bad things you’ve heard about Plaxico, they never expected the guy to have a gun. I had a chance to talk to players there and Antonio Pierce. Pierce said ‘I didn’t know he had a gun. I was surprised he had a gun.’ He’s in a place right now where he needs help and the Giants have offered help but he will not take it. Exact words ‘he’s making us look stupid.’”

Jimmy Johnson of Fox: “Why won’t he receive the help? Why won’t he just say, ‘okay, I’ve done wrong. What can I do to make it right?’”

Strahan: “I don’t think there is anybody that can get inside his head to figure out why he won’t do it. I don’t know if he can figure out why he won’t do it.”

Howie Long: “It’s sadly ironic that every wound in regard to Plaxico has been self-inflicted and this is an obvious case of that. The Giants have gone out of their way and bent over backwards to help him. You say taking his money doesn’t matter. If they take his signing bonus, it’s a life changing fine.”

Terry Bradshaw: “I believe that this is one organization that will say ‘enough is enough’ and release him.”

Strahan: “When you’re in that organization and play well for that team you’re part of that family. They’re not going to abandon a guy. They want him to get his life straight before they even worry about football which is very rare in this business. The Giants do care. They want Plaxico to be a better person, a better man and really want to take care of the guy.”

Shannon Sharpe of CBS: "Forget about the fact that he's carrying an unlicensed handgun. Forget about the fact that he feels he needs to go into a club with an unlicensed handgun. What about the fact that the guy is injured? And instead of being at home rehabbing trying to get back to show his teammates…‘I'm going to miss this week in Washington but I'm doing everything I possibly can to get back on the field with you guys next week.’ What happened to that? What about his responsibility of doing everything he can to get back onto the field? Forget all this other stuff about the handgun and him going into the club. He doesn't care about anything but Plaxico Burress."

Bill Cowher: "When a guy is producing, you tolerate certain things. But this action that took place here was totally unacceptable."

Boomer Esiason: "There's no way he will ever put a New York Giant uniform on ever again. This is one of the dumbest moves in the recent history of the NFL. When you think about the Tisch family and the Mara family, the owners of the New York Giants, they will not stand for this. It's over for Plaxico Burress in New York as a football player."

Dan Marino: "It’s stupid and it’s selfish. This is a team that went to the Super Bowl last year. He was a critical part of that. It's selfish from the standpoint of him and their team. And you can't overlook what is he doing going with a handgun into a club? Or going to a club where you need a hand gun to go to? It’s totally ridiculous."

Cowher: "It's tough enough when you're on to top, but he's now become a major distraction for the team."

Keyshawn Johnson of ESPN: "It can happen because you are not paying attention to your investment. Your investment is that $35 million to play for. When you are not paying attention to that, you are not paying attention to protect your family and all those sorts of things – the good things that come from playing in the National Football League … If you have to have a gun in the first place at a club, why even bother going to the club. It makes absolutely no sense to me.”

Mike Ditka: “This is all about priorities. When you get stature in life, you get the kind of contract, you have an obligation and responsibility to your teammates, to the organization, to the National Football League and to the fans. He just flaunted this money in their face. He has no respect for anybody but himself. I feel sorry for him, in the sense that, I don’t understand the league, why can anybody have a gun? I will have a policy, no guns, any NFL players we find out, period, you’re suspended.”

Tom Jackson: “I don’t feel sorry for him. I’m glad he wasn’t seriously injured. I think this is the reason there is a big disconnect between fans and these players. $35 million contract signed and he went berserk. Because, like many players, that money he feels gives him the right to say I don’t have to play by the rules and that’s what he’s done. That laundry list you read [Berman read on air about Burress’ mishaps this season], that’s how he’s been since the moment that he signed that $35 million contract. And unfortunately, there are other players like him who absolutely don’t care once they get that money.”

Cris Carter: “I’m sad because we would get to the state in the National Football League or any other pro sport where guys really forget their relevance in society. All you have to do is pick up the [New York] Times today or pick up the [New York] Post or [New York] Daily News and look at what state we are in, as a country, financially. It’s hard to have a job. Let alone when you have a job and a good one. For me, it was always pride in the National Football League and pride in doing my job and the responsibility I had to the people that were paying me. To me, it doesn’t make any sense. Look at the long laundry list – are we shocked he shot himself? Really, based on everything that’s happened.”

Jackson: “Let me ask you something. They act like this is so commonplace. Are these guys walking around with guns? Are a lot of NFL players, going to clubs, are they going with guns?”

Johnson: “I would say, probably, and I don’t know the statistics, but I would say about half the league does … Because a lot of guys think you’ve got to have a gun, having security with you, that’s not cool.”

Carter: “You need to realize, if you run into a professional athlete, you are more likely to find an athlete that’s packing some heat.”

Chris Berman: “That’s pathetic. If you get out of that for a minute, just the Plax, he’s like the only guy wearing a red shirt in a room with guys wearing blue shirts. And the guys in blue shirts, it’s like a good thing. At what point – ‘maybe, I should think about putting a blue shirt on today.’ And we’re glad he’s not seriously hurt.”

Johnson: “The NFL has a security policy. You get it. They talk to you about the whole deal. Every single city that you go in, there’s a security for that team. You can contact that security officer and they’ll find you an off-duty FBI guy, off-duty city police that’s licensed to carry a gun. You can interpret that any way you want if you want protection. They won’t get in your way.”

Jackson: “Boom! he just shot his way out of New York.”

Is Plaxico Burress worth the trouble?

Jackson: “Absolutely not. Even if they were a team struggling, that would be the case. I don’t want this on my football team. The fact is, when he’s out, they don’t struggle. They’ve now had the chance to see him a couple times this year, see their team and what it is like when he is not on the field. I think they are actually a better football team. Yes, he makes some catches – 35 catches, four touchdowns. That is average to me. So give me the player who is a team guy, who fits in with the rest of what we are as the New York Football Giants and [head coach]Tom Coughlin can do that now because he is a made man in New York.”

Carter: “People need to realize it is not going to be an adjustment because all through the off-season, Plaxico, off-season surgery, wasn’t there. Not at the OTAs. Training camp, remember holding out – mysterious injury. When he got his contract, he got really healthy. Domenik Hixon is a better route runner, is better after the catch than Plaxico, and is more speed in the lineup and if far more dependable.”

Johnson: “Is he worth the trouble? Right now, he is walking across the Grand Canyon, on a tight rope, strong winds with no net underneath … I know he’s had some issues, whatever that is, you can’t just give up on him and throw him to the wolves. You have to try to help him somehow.”

Carter: “Key [Keyshawn], if I give you $35 million, what help can I get for you? … This is no young guy at the draft, shooting up at the combine. I heard the man a few weeks ago saying: ‘I ain’t losing no sleep’.”

Ditka: “One thing you can guarantee he is losing, that is his address in New York.”

Berman: “From Super Bowl hero to this? Super Bowl is only February. Everybody on the Giants got the message except him."

Tiki Barber of NBC: "It was originally reported that Derrick Ward was the third player involved in the situation, in fact it was Ahmad Bradshaw. He was not involved with the shooting but he was at the scene. Also, the NYPD has taken an interest in this case because they're not sure this was originally reported as a gunshot wound. In New York City any gunshot would, regardless of the circumstances, has to be reported to the police department."

Barber on Antonio Pierce: "At first he wasn't cooperating with police but when faced with an obstruction charge, he decided to cooperate. And going forward, we think he should be clear of all charges."

Barber on the mood of the team: "The mood in the locker room was pretty jovial and upbeat because these guys feel like they can win without him and they have a lot of young guys who are eager to play."

Barber and Bob Costas discuss the incident:

Barber: "Last week, Steve Smith, one of Plaxico's fellow receivers, was attacked at gunpoint and robbed in front of his house so his mindset is 'I have to protect myself, I'm a target.'"

Costas: "I'd like to have somebody show me one time when an athlete was out in a public place and by having a gun, he either averted harm to himself or other innocent people. Show me one time as against the dozens of times people came to grief for carrying guns."

Barber: "I'm in complete agreement with you. But a lot of these players grew up in neighborhoods that we're not familiar with. They grew up with gangs. This what they know. When they feel threatened, their thought is to protect themselves and not rely on someone else to do it for them. I'm not saying it's right but you have to understand the mindset."

Peter King on Burress' contract: "This was a $23 million gunshot wound for Plaxico Burress. Twenty-three of the $27 million he got in his contract was all based on the future. There's $1 million guaranteed money in signing bonus that's due on December 10. The first real test of the Giants love of Plaxico Burress is whether they pay him that bonus in 10 days. I think he'll play someplace in 2009 but I do think it's highly unlikely that he'll ever play for the Giants again."

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