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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Burress pleads guilty, will serve prison time

Former New York Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress pleaded guilty to attempted criminal weapons charges on Thursday. He agreed to a plea deal that carries a sentence of two years in prison followed by two years of supervised release. Last November, Burress and former teammate Antonio Pierce were in a crowded night club when a gun slipped from Burress' waistband and fired a shot into his right thigh. No one else was injured in the incident.

Burress was not licensed to carry a firearm in the state of New York or in New Jersey, where he resides. He did have a license to carry a gun in the state of Florida, but that permit expired in May of 2008. Burress' official plea was made in the Manhattan State Supreme court to a charge of one count of attempted criminal possession of a weapon. He was indicted earlier this month by a Grand Jury on two counts of criminal possession of a weapon and one count of reckless endangerment. Those charges carried a minimum sentence of 3 1/2 years.

The 31 year-old wide receiver was released in April by the New York Giants. It has been quite a turn of events for Burress who caught the winning touchdown in Super Bowl XLII. That touchdown catch gave the Giants one of the biggest upsets in sports history as they beat the New England Patriots who were the first team to win every game in a 16 game regular season.

With time off for good behavior, Burress could be released after serving 20 months. His sentencing date is set for September 22.

photo credit: AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Favre returns... again

Reporting on Brett Favre's retirement from football has become a bit frustrating. One minute I'm certain he's coming back to play for the Minnesota Vikings and serve cold revenge to the Packers. The next minute, I'm certain he is retired and just 5 short years away from Hall of Famer status with a bust in Canton. Even though I predicted his return in my June 23rd post "Top 10 Bold Predictions for the 2009 Season", I must say it caught me off guard to hear of Favre's decision to return to football. Nevertheless, Brett Favre was officially introduced as the starting quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings last night and Packers fans everywhere must have shed a collective tear.

Football fans, players, and analysts will have their opinions of Favre's decision. Packers fans will either loathe him (if he is successful with the Vikings) or mock him (if he fails). Many will be skeptical of his body and his heart; particularly with him constantly changing his mind about his retirement. What does Favre think of the criticism? "Don't watch, you know?" stated Favre in his introduction press conference, "My legacy, it's mine. It's what I think of it".

It can't be lost on Favre, the agony and betrayal Packers fans will feel with his return to football. This isn't like last season when he played for the Jets. The Jets were out of conference and never faced the Packers. Green Bay fans also had satisfaction in the fact that Favre and his team missed the playoffs last season and Favre himself appeared to lose steam as the season wore on. I'm sure those fans hoped the Jets stint would be the end to Favre's football career. But this move by Favre will directly effect the Packers and their fans. He will play them twice a year; wearing the #4 jersey in purple. The Vikings are the Packers biggest rivalry in the NFC North division and this move by Favre must feel like a knife in the heart of the Cheeseheads.

Make no mistake, this will make for excellent football. Watching Favre hold up that Vikings jersey in the press conference last night gave me chills. I knew that the Packers fans and players had to be watching as well. I knew it had to hurt them to see this dramatic turn of events. But, I also knew that I will be watching Favre this season intently; especially when he plays Green Bay. There are still many questions to be answered. Will his recent surgically repaired shoulder hold up for the soon-to-be 40 year old? Just how bad will the boos be when he walks onto Lambeau Field in that purple jersey? Can he really win another Super Bowl?

Let's just say the 2009 NFL season just became a lot more interesting. Ratings and water cooler talk will hit an all time high when Favre plays his old team. Fans will not have to wait long. He will face the Packers on October 5th and again on November 1st; that's twice before Minnesota's bye week. To even have a chance at a Super Bowl, Favre will have to beat the Packers. The divisional winner automatically makes the playoffs, regardless of their win/loss record. A divisional rivalry just became a high noon showdown, and you had better believe both teams will come out with guns blazing.

photo credit: AP photo/Star Tribune, Jerry Holt