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Monday, June 13, 2011
Plaxico Burress-Coughlin reunion unlikely

By Dan Graziano


When Brandon Jacobs came out a few weeks ago and said there was no chance Plaxico Burress would return to the Giants upon his release from prison, I kind of dismissed it. Jacobs is not Burress, Burress' agent or a member of the Giants' front office, so his opinion didn't seem to matter very much. So when Burress was released a week ago, it seemed wise to keep the possibility of a reunion with the Giants alive in the speculation on where Burress might land.

This latest, however, is a bit of a different story. In a wide-ranging interview with ESPN's Stephen A. Smith, Burress spoke about a number of things, including what he perceived as a very poor relationship with Giants coach Tom Coughlin:
"That was one of the biggest problems when I left Pittsburgh when I came here," Burress said. "I had a relationship with Bill Cowher inside of football and outside of football. He always had an open-door policy to where you could come talk to him or tell him what was on your mind. When that was taken away from me, I kind of felt it was like: I'm the coach, you are the player. It doesn't matter what you have to say. You just do what I tell you to do. This is not college. This is professional sports. If you can't sit down and go talk to a man that you are busting your tail for, not even have the respect for anything that you have to say, like I said, the only thing I knew then was to rebel."

So, Burress' explanation for his disruptive behavior while with the Giants (leaving out, of course, the nightclub gun incident that resulted in his incarceration) is that he didn't have the kind of relationship he wanted to have with his head coach, and so he felt the best way to deal with that was to skip meetings. Yeah, that sounds really good. I can see a bunch of coaches wanting to sign up for this.

Burress wouldn't be the first player to have had an issue with Coughlin, who's known as a tough, my-way-or-the-highway kind of coach. But Coughlin has toned down his act in recent years, and reports of difficult relationships between him and his players have more or less dried up since the Super Bowl championship season. Coughlin is also extremely well respected by his fellow coaches around the league, so it's possible that a player's inability (or unwillingness) to get along with Coughlin could injure the opinion other coaches might have of said player.

I have no doubt that there will be some level of interest in Burress from at least one team if not a handful. He mentions Rex Ryan and the Jets as a possibility, and I think that would make a lot of sense. I also think he makes sense in Philadelphia, where they could provide a strong, supportive environment and put him in the kind of smaller, specific role that would suit him at this point in his career. But in light of his comments today about Coughlin, I think you can pretty much rule out a return to the Giants. And I wouldn't be surprised if those comments ended up hurting his chances with one or two other teams in the league either.