- Jane McManus, Reporter & Columnist, espnW.com
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- On Thanksgiving, Plaxico Burress has big plans. The traditional meal -- turkey and all the trimmings -- will be at his house, followed by dessert everywhere else. Burress plans a tour to the homes of former Giants teammates -- to David Tyree's house for some sweet potato pie, then to Brandon Jacobs' for banana pudding.
"I plan on eating at home and go to everyone else's house and sampling the desserts," said the Jets wide receiver.
It's easy to see why he wants to take it all in -- the meal with his wife Tiffany and their two children, the warmth of valued friends. For the past two seasons, Burress was serving a sentence at the Oneida Correctional Facility in upstate New York for weapons charges stemming from an incident that made national headlines.
In fact, his last Thanksgiving at home was in 2008, the night before he accidentally shot himself in the leg with an unlicensed handgun at a Manhattan nightclub. He returned home to have Tiffany, a practicing attorney in New York, tell him that New York's gun laws were some of the toughest in the nation.
Burress' daughter Giovanna was born while he was behind bars, and this will be the first Thanksgiving that he celebrates with her.
"Every day was difficult," Burress said. "But Thanksgivings and the Christmases and Easters and Halloweens -- just not being able to be able to be there, just to see the emotion and jubilation on your kids' face or your wife's and different things like that, it hits you a little harder. That's why every day basically is real special for me. Especially Thanksgiving is tomorrow and I get to be home all day and just take it all in."
Fellow wideout Santonio Holmes and Burress have become friends in their short time together as teammates. Holmes said the mood has been light at times around the Jets facility with Thanksgiving coming, but that they know what this holiday means for Burress.
"He came in yesterday and all we did was joke and laugh and reminisce on the time we spent as kids," Holmes said. "... As far as him getting this opportunity to be home with his family for Thanksgiving, it's truly a blessing for him."
Burress has struggled at times since choosing the Jets over his former New York team. He came to camp and immediately sprained his ankle. There have been games where he has been nearly invisible, difficult for a 6-foot-5 receiver. He has 30 catches this year for 425 yards and six touchdowns.
But even if he didn't have a single catch, Burress knows he is still in a far better place this season than in years past.
"I'm here this year for the first time in two years and we're just gonna get together and do our thing," Burress said. "And we're blessed and thankful to all be together for the first time in a couple years. I'm just enjoying it, looking forward to frying me a turkey and getting after it."
Are you deep frying it yourself?
"Oh, without question," Burress said. "I'm going to deep fry and drop it in some peanut oil and I'm gonna throw down."
Are you aware that frozen turkeys can explode if dropped in a fryer?
Here, Burress takes a second to find the right words.
"I'm not an amateur," he said with the hint of a smile. "I'm a professional."
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