It seemed that the talented receiver had put some of the character raised questions during his five years in Pittsburgh to bed during most of his first three years with the Giants. But ever since catching the winning touchdown pass in the Giants’ Super Bowl XLII win in February, Burress, now in his fourth season with New York, has apparently let his self-centered actions ruin what could have been a very happy marriage with the defending champion Giants.
Had he been able to stay out of trouble and simply show up every week as the professional that the Giants hoped he’d be, Burress certainly would have remained the Giants’ most dangerous receiving threat. After last Friday’s incident however, he may no longer get that chance.
Whether due to injury from his self-inflicted gunshot wound, impending legal trouble, or possible league action resulting from it, Burress may have played his final game in a Giants’ uniform this season. If that’s the case, the track record of how the Giants have been able to continue to flourish after ridding themselves of other talented troublemakers would indicate that Burress’ days as a Giant could be numbered not only this season, but for good.
After a multitude of missed practices, excuses, and fines, the Giants may have run out of patience. For proof of that, there’s no need to look past current Giant tight end Kevin Boss filling in adequately for four-time pro-bowler, ex-Giant Jeremy Shockey, in helping the Giants to their championship last season, and this year, to their first 11-1 record in their long, storied history.
As with Boss, the Giants certainly have Burress’ replacements waiting in the wings. Domenic Hixon, Steve Smith, and Amani Toomer have already more than picked up the slack in the weeks that Burress has already missed this season whether due to injuries or repeated off-the-field troubles.
But, the concern for the Giants is if that trio can get it done come playoff time in January against some of the best teams the NFC has to offer, or in Tampa, should the Giants reach Super Bowl XLIII.
Though Burress’ potential postseason fill-ins are talented in their own rights, Burress is not only a receiving matchup problem at 6-foot-5 with speed, athleticism, and good hands, but he often commanded double teams, opening up the field for other offensive options. Without him, the Giants will have to compensate to keep good defenses guessing and maintain their efficiency as the league’s leading offense once the postseason arrives.
It’s entirely possible that the Giants could roll to another Super Bowl title in February without Burress. After all, they won a Super Bowl last season without Tiki Barber and Shockey, and they’re cruising this season without Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora. However, as hard as it is to repeat as champions in a league like the NFL, the Giants’ chances of doing so would have been a lot easier if defending a championship were as important to Burress as it is to what may soon become Burress’ former team.