Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
The New York Giants have finally had enough of star receiver Plaxico Burress -- at least for the rest of the season. The organization suspended Burress for the final four games of the regular season and put him on the reserve non-football injury list.
In their comments following the suspension of Burress for conduct detrimental to the team, Giants officials expressed their concern for the receiver's health and well-being. But it's hard to sugar-coat this message. The Giants could've simply put Burress on the non-football injury list and moved on down the road, but general manager Jerry Reese and coach Tom Coughlin needed to send a stronger message.
Coughlin believes that no one individual is bigger than the team, and Burress challenged that philosophy. If this had been an isolated incident, the Giants wouldn't have acted nearly this quickly. But Burress hasn't shown enough remorse for his other off-the-field transgressions. You might wonder why the Giants are expressing such concern while doling out harsh punishment. Well, they'd like for the player to retain some value in case they want to trade him.
It's unlikely, though, that anyone will take on Burress' contract after he signed a five-year, $35 million extension on the first day of the regular season. With an 11-1 record and hopes for a Super Bowl repeat, the Giants were seeking speedy closure to the Burress situation. Yes, they'll miss him in the playoffs, but Coughlin thinks that players such as Domenik Hixon and Steve Smith will be up to the task.
Honestly, the bigger concern for the Giants is middle linebacker Antonio Pierce's status. With Mayor Michael Bloomberg jumping all over this case, Pierce won't be able to fly under the radar. The Giants decided that Pierce could play against the Redskins on Sunday. But if Pierce is charged with any crime related to Burress' accidental shooting, they'll feel a lot of pressure to suspend him as well. And as a leader and player, Pierce is more important to this team than Burress.
It's very likely that Burress has played his last down with the Giants. No matter how benevolent they sound right now, Burress has worn out his welcome in this organization. He's an immensely talented player who has no respect for authority. Coughlin had to make a strong showing on this suspension, and he did.
In my mind, the Giants should still be heavily favored to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. They've proven time and time again that they can overcome adversity. But at some point, it could catch up with them.
At this point, I'd be much more worried about Pierce's status than Burress'. I'll come back a little later to provide details on the financial implications for suspending Burress.