- The Washington Times - Friday, September 26, 2008

The team claims the player skipped meetings and wouldn’t return its phone calls.

The player’s agent claims the absence was a family emergency and will appeal fines that could exceed $400,000.

A month into defense of their Super Bowl title, the New York Giants are finally tackling some drama.

Receiver Plaxico Burress, who signed a $35 million contract hours before the Giants’ opener against the Redskins, was suspended for two weeks (one game) Wednesday because he missed meetings and did not return phone calls from the team asking for his whereabouts Monday.

The suspension carries a $250,000 game-check fine and could include a $200,000 roster bonus fine. Burress’ agent, Drew Rosenhaus, said he will contest the Giants’ decision through the NFLPA.

How this situation is fixed or festers could have an impact on the Giants, who are 3-0 and enter their bye tied for the top spot in the NFC East with Dallas.

At one end of the spectrum is a speedy resolution once the sides talk and Burress plays against Seattle.

At the other end is a messy appeals hearing that will get all kinds of allegations out in the open and turn into a season-long distraction in the Giants’ locker room.

Which way it goes won’t be known until Burress returns to the team. His toughness last year - not practicing but getting his mangled ankle ready enough to play in games - was certainly admirable, and he caught the Super Bowl-winning touchdown pass.

But now this.

No matter the cause of Burress’ absence, he erred by ignoring the team’s phone calls. Chances are if he called the Giants back and explained he was taking care of a family matter, his hand would have been slapped.

“We’re acknowledging that there should be some repercussion but not to the extent where he is denied to perform his livelihood to play,” Rosenhaus said in a conference call with New York reporters. “We think it’s serious and not very common, but there are things that do take place in the NFL that you could say are worse and have not led to suspension.”

Rosenhaus, as is his wont, laid it on a little thick when dropping words like “perform” and “livelihood,” but his point carries merit: Does the punishment fit the crime, especially if the situation is properly explained? The Giants thought so, meaning there was a series of rules violations through the years.

Linebacker Antonio Pierce tried to play down the situation Thursday (“He’s excited to be coming back,” he said) but also offered an interesting nugget by saying Burress’ suspension “is an injury; we just don’t know what kind.”

Huh?

If Burress was injured, the Giants are off this weekend, so he has several additional days to get treatment and heal up for the Seattle game Oct. 5. And if this was the case, the Giants couldn’t suspend him and dock him a game check without hearing from the NFLPA and the league office in about 1.4 seconds.

Suspension or no suspension, it means the Giants are back to being the Giants (plenty going on off the field). Not that some of the players think that’s a bad thing.

“You know what?” defensive end Justin Tuck said. “Sometimes distractions are a good thing.”

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