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Roethlisberger on 'Plax'

10/23/2008

Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

PITTSBURGH -- Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger spent his rookie year in Pittsburgh with current New York Giants receiver Plaxico Burress.

The pairing was short-lived as it turned out to be Roethlisberger's first year with the Steelers and Burress' last.

But Sunday the enigmatic receiver returns to Heinz Field when the Steelers host the Giants. The reception should be interesting because fans were very hot and cold with Burress during his inconsistent tenure in Pittsburgh.

Roethlisberger believes Burress was just misunderstood.

"No question,'' Roethlisberger said. "I always thought Plax was one of the best players we had, and I think the fans kind of gave him the short leash, if you will, or not the fair end of the stick. But he seems to be happy now, and I'm happy for him.''

By the time Roethlisberger was drafted in 2004, fans were already tiring of Burress. Jeers were commonplace and Burress had one of his worst statistical seasons, catching just 35 passes in 11 games before bolting to free agency.

"It was probably something before I got here, so I don't know," Roethlisberger recalled of Burress' chilly reception from fans.

Both sides moved on admirably. The Steelers (5-1) won the Super Bowl the following year without Burress, and Burress later earned his first ring with the Giants (5-1) last season.

If Burress is booed loudly on Sunday, at least it will be expected because he's wearing an opposing uniform.