By Paul Tenorio
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, December 1, 2008
While the New York Giants cruised to a 23-7 victory over the Washington Redskins yesterday at FedEx Field, the team faced a major distraction with news star wide receiver Plaxico Burress would turn himself in to police this morning, according to his attorney, Benjamin Brafman.
"We are going to proceed to the 17th Precinct [today] at 8 a.m., and it's my understanding that Mr. Burress is going to be charged with criminal possession of a weapon," Brafman said in a telephone interview. "He is going to plead not guilty, and we'll proceed from there."
Burress shot himself in the thigh on Friday night at a nightclub in New York City. His injuries were not serious, and the wide receiver was released from a New York hospital early Saturday, according to the Giants.
"As far as we know he's going to be okay," Giants General Manager Jerry Reese said.
Burress was already ruled out of yesterday's game because of a hamstring injury.
Whether Burress has a permit to carry a concealed weapon in New York is still under investigation, according to New York Police Department spokesman Reginald Watkins.
Brafman, who has defended several high-profile clients, including Sean "Diddy" Combs, said he had been in contact with the Giants yesterday and that "we're trying to do this in a very responsible and professional manner."
Both the New York Police Department and NFL security are investigating the incident, and Reese and Giants president and chief executive John Mara said at a news conference before the game they would wait until the investigations are complete before taking any action.
"Right now there are a lot of unanswered questions out there so we want to wait until the investigation is complete," Mara said. "We'll cooperate fully with both NFL security and with NYPD. Whatever they ask us to do, we're going to do. And we'll wait and see what determination they come up with, and after that we'll react accordingly."
The NFL has a gun policy that prohibits players from taking firearms to team- and league-related events. The policy reads, in part: "If you violate this policy on guns and other weapons, you are subject to discipline, including suspension from playing. And if you violate a public law covering weapons -- for example, possession of an unlicensed firearm -- you are not only subject to discipline, including suspension from playing, but also subject to criminal prosecution."
According to several reports, Giants linebacker Antonio Pierce was with Burress when the incident occurred. Pierce played in the win, registering six tackles and one pass defended, but declined to comment on the incident after the game.
"I am not answering any questions about the incident that happened Friday night," Pierce said. "If you have anything to say about the Washington Redskins and this game moving forward, I'll answer it. Anything else, I'm not answering it."
NFL security interviewed Pierce at the team hotel Saturday, Reese said.
Without Burress in the lineup and despite the distraction of Friday's incident and a steady rain yesterday, the Giants passing game did not sputter. Quarterback Eli Manning finished with 305 yards, his highest output of the season and first 300-yard plus passing game since Oct. 15, 2007, a 31-10 win over Atlanta. Amani Toomer led the Giants with 85 yards receiving and one touchdown, and Domenik Hixon finished with 71 yards on five catches in place of Burress.
"The only thing that the players were concerned about was Plaxico's health," Manning said. "Coach said it wasn't life-threatening, but obviously any time you hear about a gunshot wound you're concerned about it. . . . From game-plan-wise and what we had to do on the field, we didn't let it bother us."
Staff writer Mark Maske contributed to this report.