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Let’s not make this guy out to be a saint. Burress had been in trouble _ on and off the field _ before he made the ill-advised choice to tuck a handgun into his waistband before a night on the town.

He ran afoul of the Giants and his previous team, the Pittsburgh Steelers, when he didn’t bother showing up for practices and missed meetings. Some thought he feigned injuries to get out of practices he did attend. There were domestic disturbances and civil lawsuits on his pre-shooting blotter.

Now, Burress says he’s ready to start the rest of his life _ just one tweet he sent not long after clearing the prison gate.

Calling Vick might be a good start.

No. 7 was even more reviled than Burress after Vick’s affinity for dogfighting came out. But the Philadelphia Eagles gave him a second chance, and Vick sure took advantage of it. This past season, he claimed the starting job, led his team to the playoffs and was selected to the Pro Bowl, as well as winning the Comeback Player of the Year award.

Vick, however, was nearly 5 years younger than Burress when he rejoined the league. The receiver can’t afford for the NFL to lose an entire season trying to reach a new labor deal. But, assuming there’s a settlement before Week 1 and Burress follows Vick’s blueprint for contrition, the former Giants star will be an awfully good investment for any team that needs a receiver.

“If Plaxico stays out of trouble both on and off the field, does community service outreach in relation to gun violence, I do not think it will be long before this is behind him,” Newman said.

Heck, despite Rosenhaus‘ bluster, this just might be the right time to get Burress on the cheap. Once he’s had a year to show what he can do on the field, he might be in position to demand some really big bucks.

No one could deny he’s already paid a hefty price.

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National Writer Paul Newberry can be reached at pnewberry(at)ap.org or http://twitter.com/pnewberry1963