Between trying to decide what's best for his team and what's fair to the other teams involved in playoff competition with the Minnesota Vikings — Sunday's opponents — Giants' head coach Tom Coughlin has a new concern now — actually, an old/new concern.
His name is Plaxico Burress, the obviously troubled but incredibly talented wide receiver who, the night after Thanksgiving, accidentally shot himself in the thigh while in a New York City night club with a loaded, unlicensed handgun, a 9mm Glock. For those who know, the Glock is the only high-end weapon without a safety catch — "it's a combat weapon," says a policeman, "and you don't' have time to check on the safety if you're in that situation."
Burress is under investigation by the New York City police department, since carrying a loaded gun in the five boroughs is a felony punishable by no less than 3 1/2 years in prison. The Giants immediately placed him on a four-week suspension, which would cover the rest of the season, and added him to the Non-Football Injury list, which provides for no salary and prohibits his participation in any post-season activity.
Now there is another problem — an authorized raid of his home in Totowa, N.J., turned up a small cache of weapons and ammunition, perhaps putting him in line for additional legal troubles. If the guns are unlicensed — and there is no indication either way yet — Burress will face charges in New Jersey in addition to those he faces in New York.
Also found, but not seized because it had no bearing on any of the criminal involvement(s), was a suitcase full of money.
The police also took a pair of black, bloodied jeans from his bedroom as well as sneakers (said to be stained) which will be tested by Manhattan authorities as possible evidentiary material for the ongoing night club charges.
The weapons taken from the house reportedly include a 9mm handgun, rifle and ammunition for three additional guns — a .380, a .45 and a .40, which is the caliber of the gun with which he shot himself in the thigh in a night club called The Latin Quarter.
His attorney, Benjamin Brafman, said he was aware of the police only recovering a rifle from the home, and added: "It is not illegal in New Jersey to have a registered weapon in your home."
Burress, said Brafman, "was out of town," and no elaboration was offered.
Coughlin must determine whether to play all his regulars and go "all out" to win the game, rather than resting several starters and allowing those who have been playing with injuries to get two full weeks of down time before their first playoff game. The Giants have the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs and as such will have a bye weekend Jan. 3-4. The coach has, however, repeated his stance on such a situation, saying "I don't like to rest players; they need to keep playing to stay sharp."
Chicago head coach Lovie Smith, whose Bears must win and hope for a Vikings' defeat at the hands of the Giants, has said only that he will count on Coughlin's sense of fairness. "I hope the Giants play to win it," he said.
SERIES HISTORY: 20th regular-season meeting. Vikings lead series, 11-8. Additionally, the Giants hold a 2-1 edge in playoff meetings. Perhaps the most memorable game was the NFC Championship game for the 2000 season when the Giants stormed the Vikings, 41-0, holding a 14-0 lead before Minnesota got its hands on the ball.
Burress' troubles run deep
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