When Amani Toomer visited former teammate Plaxico Burress earlier this year at the Oneida Correctional Facility in Rome, N.Y., Burress expressed a strong desire to return to football once he gets out of jail next year.
But Toomer thinks Burress shouldn’t have to wait that long to be released.
“It’s a shame he’s still in there,” Toomer said on Thursday afternoon. “If he wasn’t Plaxico Burress, he’d be out on work release.”
Burress, who played with Toomer on the Giants from 2005-2008, was denied a bid for work release by the state Department of Correctional Services on Aug. 31. It was the second time Burress had applied for work release since he began serving his two-year sentence for carrying an unlicensed handgun last September.
“Because he is who is he is, they’re keeping him in (prison),” Toomer said. “When they politicize something like this and play with a person’s career and life it’s unfortunate.”
Burress can appeal the decision but otherwise will have to wait until June 6, 2011, before he can apply for another work release. At that time he will be eligible for full release if he gets time off for good behavior.
A New York state prison system spokeswoman told ESPN.com last month that it’s rare for the Department of Correctional Services to grant work-release requests. Less than 2 percent of the nearly 27,000 applications received last year were granted.
Burress began serving a two-year sentence last September after pleading guilty to attempted criminal possession of a weapon. Burress carried an unlicensed weapon into a Manhattan night club in November 2008. The gun slipped down Burresss’ leg and fired, injuring his right thigh.
Toomer also said Burress told him that it was difficult to be away from his family during their visit. Toomer believes Burress, one of the heroes of Super Bowl XLII, won’t have any trouble landing a job in football when he is released – despite the fact that he hasn’t played in more than two years.
“He looked like he was in great shape. He’s definitely planning on coming back,” Toomer said.
Toomer, who was cut by the Chiefs in the 2009 preseason, isn’t planning a comeback of his own, but he is still competing.
Toomer will run in the ING New York City Marathon on November 7. He is training with Timex training technology, including a wrist device that allows him to track his heart rate and distance. Timex will donate one dollar for every runner he passes en route to the finish line to the New York Road Runners Youth Programs. Toomer says he is the first former pro football player to run the race since Lynn Swann ran it in 1993. He said he wants to beat Swann’s time of four hours and twenty-six minutes.
Toomer says he will work as a commentator for My9’s Giants post-game show and as an analyst for the Big Ten Network.
The Giants’ all-time leader in receptions thinks the key to Big Blue’s success in 2010 will be an effective ground game, something that the Giants sorely lacked down the stretch of their 2009 campaign.
In particular, Toomer believes the Giants need to find a way to help Brandon Jacobs regain the form he showed in 2007 and 2008.
“I think they’re trying to find any way to get him (back) to running the same way he ran in (2008) before he got the new contract,” Toomer said. I don’t know if they’ve (had) the same Brandon Jacobs that they got before he signed that contract.”
Jacobs complained about his reduced role to ESPNNewYork.com after the Giants preseason finale against the Patriots last week. He will likely see his role reduced this year as Ahmad Bradshaw receives the bulk of workload.
Toomer also has paid close attention to the Super Bowl predictions and preseason bravado of Rex Ryan’s Jets. He sees them as a “nervous” team that has painted a large bulls-eye on its back.
“I think they’re a nervous group, like they’re whistling in a graveyard,” Toomer said. “With all the talking they’re doing, they are making their own road a lot more difficult.”
You can track Toomer’s training progress for the New York City marathon on the Timex Sports Facebook page.