Plaxico Burress was clearly the biggest free agent to come aboard the Giants ship this offseason. All one has to do is look around the Albany practice fields and see all the number 17 jerseys. He arrives as kind of an enigma – an enormous player (6-5, 226) with a ton of talent, who has yet to have the huge statistical season you'd expect. Now, according to Burress, he's primed to break out because he's landed somewhere he wants to be – and on a team that isn't afraid to throw the ball. Burress sat down with TGI after an early-camp practice and shed plenty of light on New York's new gun in town.
Q: How scary was it banging your knee during your first practice here?
A: I never had anything like that before. I couldn't feel it at first. I didn't feel it pop or anything like that. I sprained my ankle and bent my leg back all at one time, but no one really knew that. For the first day or two, I was in a lot of pain. But I wanted to be out there with my teammates. I trained too hard and worked too hard all offseason to be out for four weeks or so. I just got out there and got comfortable real fast.
Q: Does it bother you when you read and hear that everyone's expecting problems between you and coach Coughlin?
A: I really don't know how people can say things like that. At the end of the day, it's football. You can deal with rules. This is what I've dreamt about since I was seven years old. Things like getting to a meeting five minutes early, that's really not that bad. I get to play on Sunday in front of millions of people, and do what I love to do. Me and him are not going to have any problems. We never have and we won't. I'm always talking to him, trying to get him to loosen up and he's trying to get me to be a better player. I have a lot of respect for the guy because at the end of the day he just wants to win.
Q: Do you think you've gotten a bad rap?
A: I wasn't really happy being in Pittsburgh. I never said I didn't like the guys. I loved some of the guys I played with. But for you to really be able to be happy as a person, you have to be able to wake up in the morning and be happy with where you are and what you're doing. I really wasn't happy in that type of offense. I kind of felt like I was in shackles, so to speak. I was limited to certain things. Now I don't have those limitations. They're asking me, telling me – this is what we want you to do, go do it.
Q: Why New York? Why the strong desire to leave Pittsburgh and come here?
A: I think it was a great opportunity for myself. It was a chance for me to get out and just be me, instead of being the focus. I like not being one of the main guys in the city. I like being able to live my life and be able to go to the grocery store by myself. I just wanted to be normal. That was one of my decisions – I want to be normal. In Pittsburgh I couldn't be normal. I just want to be able to go eat with my family, enjoy myself, go shopping by myself and not have to worry about being surrounded by people and getting stuck in there for an hour. I like where I am. It's a great opportunity for me and my family. I've never experienced New York.
Q: You took the number 17 as motivation?
A: I'm probably the only receiver in the league with that number. I'll never forget that day. I signed on March 17, St. Patrick's Day. I didn't celebrate it before, but I'll probably celebrate it now. It'll be a day that goes down as one of the best days of my life. Just to get a new beginning and be able to start over and prove something to myself. When I was a free agent, everyone kind of had it like I couldn't play anymore. I took that with a chip on my shoulder. I want to play that way this year. I have some things I want to unleash. When it gets rolling, it's going to be hard to stop.
Q: Like what?
A: It's going to be fun. It's going to be real fun. When you get an opportunity like this to be able to go out and prove something, you don't just want to knock on the door, you kick it in. When I kick it in, it's going down.
To be continued…
TGI exclusive with Plaxico Burress
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