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Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Steve Tisch wishes Plaxico Burress well

By Matt Ehalt
Special to ESPNNewYork.com

NEW YORK -- For the cameras, Steve Tisch could joke about Plaxico Burress signing with the New York Jets.

At a press conference to announce the naming of New Meadowlands Stadium as MetLife Stadium on Tuesday, the New York Giants chairman and executive vice president joked with Jets chairman and chief executive officer Woody Johnson about the Jets inking Burress.

"You keep Plaxico, we'll take Snoopy," Tisch said with a laugh.

When the cameras stopped rolling, though, there were no jokes about Burress signing with the Jets. Instead, Tisch, who is close to Burress, expressed disappointment about the Giants not being able to sign Burress and had nothing but kind words for him and his family.

"I was disappointed," Tisch said about Burress signing with the Jets. "My disappointment, I totally understand, you and your readers will understand. ... At the same time, he's made a good deal, a very good deal; he's been guaranteed real money and I would like to see him have a great season. I truly would like to see him play great football for the Jets. It looks like he's off to a great start."

Tisch said he has a close relationship with Burress and he even visited the receiver while he was serving his two years in jail for pleading guilty to weapon violations. Burress played four seasons with the Giants before going to jail, helping the team win the Super Bowl in 2008 by catching the go-ahead touchdown in the final minute.

Once his jail time was up, Burress, 34, became a free agent and had the option to sign with any team he wanted. He scheduled visits with teams, including his former teams in the Giants and Steelers, as he tried to find a home for the upcoming season.

A few days before Burress met with the Giants, Tisch said he ran into the receiver and they had a brief conversation. Since the lockout was still going, he said the two adhered to the NFL's guidelines and the subject pertained to "a handshake, a hug and good luck."

Eventually, Burress signed a guaranteed deal with the Jets for a little over $3 million, which was more money than the Giants offered him. Tisch acknowledged that as being a possible reason for Burress signing with the Jets.

While money might have hurt the Giants' chances, Tisch did hint at Burress' age as being a reason the Giants might not have loaded up their offer like the Jets.

Burress, who has battled an injury during the preseason, played his first preseason game on Sunday night, hauling in three catches for 66 yards and one touchdown against the Bengals.

"He can still catch a football. He's a great athlete with tremendous talent," Tisch said when asked about Burress playing for the Jets. "Would I prefer him to be wearing a Giants uniform? Yes. But Plaxico is in his mid-30s, (and) none of these guys play football into their 40s, early 40s, late 30s, so I wish him all the best.

"He's got a wonderful wife, two kids, he needs to provide for them and the time he spent in prison financially had an impact on him personally, as well as his career. ... In his case, you go where the best deal is and I love that he's still around the area and I'm still a big fan."

Tisch said he has not met with Burress since running into him that one time and there was thought that Burress might come to the Giants' preseason game against the Bears Monday night, but that never came to fruition.

Tisch likely will have his chance to see Burress when he comes to town Saturday night as the Jets face the Giants at 7 p.m. at MetLife Stadium in their annual preseason game.

"I look forward to talking to him," Tisch said. "Clearly I have mixed feelings but in my opinion he's a good guy and I will consider him a friend always."

Matt Ehalt is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.