Florham Park, N.J.– As far as New York area football fans are concerned it gets no bigger than this Christmas Eve, Jets versus Giants matchup that will likely end any playoff hopes for one of these teams. For Plaxico Burress it’s not about a battle against enemies or revenge, it’s about being a free man, playing the sport that he loves, getting to spend time with family and friends and earning his way back into the playoffs.
This time last year Burress was stuck in a jail cell, cut off from all things football and away from his family. That time away gave the talented receiver a chance to gain some perspective on what’s really important to him in life. During his stay in prison he gained a new appreciation for the little things all free Americans take for granted, he started to read more and more importantly he learned to enjoy reading. He realized his wife and kids needed to be a bigger priority and he realized the window to his playing career was closing while he sat in a jail cell.
Upon his release he set out to be a better father and husband and get back to playing meaningful football games as a difference maker for a playoff team. All that has been accomplished (okay maybe not the playoff team part, but he has proven after his slow start that he can still have a huge impact on the field) so win or lose Burress knows this Christmas is already special in ways beyond football. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t want this win just as bad or more than anyone else.
“I definitely want to get into the end zone once or twice, maybe three or four,” Burress said, “I’m going to go out and try to play lights out football. My goal is to go out and play the best game I’ve played to date from a personal standpoint and more from what we need as a team.”
The fact that this game is against his old team and players he still calls good friends is just a mere footnote to the more important part of his redemption story that he plans on taking him to the playoffs.
“It’s a business first. I’m still in contact with some of the guys that still play over there and we did some special things while we were over there, obviously winning a World Championship. I still share good relationships with some of those guys. But, when we go out there on (Saturday) and we go out there and lace them up, we’re enemies for the next three-and-a-half, four hours.” Burress said, “So we all understand that it’s going to be some good competition and I mean, just look at the circumstances of this game. The loser of that game won’t go to the playoffs, Christmas Eve, Jets versus the Giants. This is what New York is all about. It couldn’t be a better setting.”
With the stakes as high as possible for a regular season game between two rivals from different conferences Burress is aware of the extra excitement that surrounds this game and is eager to embrace it and revel in it.
“I’ve played in one (Jets-Giants game) and it’s just a fun game. The New York Jets versus the New York Giants and it’s a 50-50 kind of crowd and when something good happens, somebody is always cheering. This is an exciting game for the city and definitely for the organization.” Burress said, “It’s basically, whoever wins this game wins those bragging rights for the next four years or so. So I’m going to just go out and get this victory in JetLife Stadium.”
Burress remains focused on the task at hand, beating the Giants. But it’s the perspective that he has gained over the past few years that allows him to concentrate not on the ex-teammates and fans, not Tom Coughlin, but on getting a Jets victory, making the playoffs and giving his family as well as all Jets fans a merry Christmas.
“Basically where I was at last year, I just look at that – alone from a perspective standpoint. Just being home for the first time in two years for Christmas, being able to celebrate that with my wife and children is definitely going to be special to me. Just being able to play this type of game on Christmas Eve – somebody is going to wake up with a bittersweet Christmas.” Burress said, “It’s not going to be me.”
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