Giants suspend Burress four games in wake of weapons charges

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Super Bowl hero Plaxico Burress is done for the year.

The New York Giants fined and suspended Burress on Tuesday for four games -- the rest of the regular season -- after he accidentally shot himself in the right thigh over the weekend at a Manhattan nightclub. The team also placed him on the reserve non-football injury list, which means the wide receiver couldn't come back for the playoffs, either.

The team punished Burress a day after he was charged with illegal weapons possession, which carries a penalty of 3½ to 15 years in prison if he's convicted. Burress is due back in court again on March 31, unless he reaches a plea agreement.

Burress arrived Tuesday morning at Giants Stadium, and met individually with Giants president John Mara, general manager Jerry Reese and coach Tom Coughlin. He left for a medical test and returned in the afternoon for another brief session with team officials.

Even as they suspended him for conduct detrimental to the team, Giants officials expressed concern for Burress, who caught a touchdown pass from Eli Manning that gave the Giants a 17-14 Super Bowl win over New England in February.

"As we have said since Saturday morning, our concern is for Plaxico's health and well-being," Mara said. "This is an important time for him to take care of his body and heal up and also deal with the very serious legal consequences and other issues in his life. When I spoke with Plaxico he expressed great remorse for letting down his teammates."

Police and prosecutors still want to talk to a pair of Burress' teammates, Antonio Pierce and Ahmad Bradshaw, who were at the club when the shooting occurred but insist they did nothing wrong.

Pierce smiled but declined to speak to The Associated Press on Wednesday morning when he reported to Giants Stadium about 8 a.m.

The New York Post reported in Wednesday's edition that police impounded Pierce's SUV on Tuesday to look for any blood or gunpowder residue that might be inside. Following the shooting, police say Pierce drove Burress to the hospital and returned to New Jersey with Burress' gun in the glove compartment of his black Cadillac Escalade.

Neither Burress nor his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, was immediately available for comment.

Teammates seemed at a loss what to say Wednesday as they reported to Giants Stadium.

"The only thing I hope that we gain from that is that people will stop asking us about Plaxico, that's probably the best thing about it, that it bring some closure at least as far as this season as far as football," defensive tackle Barry Cofield said.

Receiver Amani Toomer, whose 13 years with the team make his the current longest serving player, called the situation unfortunate.

"There is nothing good that will come out of it and there isn't much to say," he said. "It's just tough, it's just tough for everyone to deal with. I'm just glad he is OK. It could have been worse."

Dr. Scott Rodeo, a team physician, examined Burress and told the Giants that the gunshot wound would have sidelined the 31-year-old player for 4-to-6 weeks anyway.

"I had two conversations with Plaxico today, and it was obvious that he understood the magnitude of this situation," Reese said.

Police want to know what Pierce did moments after the shooting and whether he took part in a cover-up. They also plan to interview the people at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, who treated Burress and did not report the shooting, as required by law. Hospital officials said they were "conducting a thorough investigation into why this gunshot wound was not reported to the police department in a timely fashion."

Multiple media reports identified the physician as Dr. Josyann Abisaab, 44, who is not employed by the hospital but is affiliated with it. Abisaab could not be reached for comment.

According to the New York Post, investigators are not sure who called Abisaab, whose privileges at the hospital have been suspended for failing to report the shooting. The newspaper reported that the Giants' vice president of medical services, Ronnie Barnes, told detectives he received a call from Burress and Pierce after the shooting and he told them to go to that hospital, where he also met with the players. Barnes did not tell investigators if he had called Abisaab.

This is the second time the Giants have suspended Burress this season. He missed the Oct. 2 game against Seattle for missing a team meeting. He also has been fined dozens of times since 2005 for violating team rules, and he was hit with a $45,000 fine by the league this season for abusing an official and throwing a ball into the stands during a game.

Burress is fourth on the team with 35 catches for 454 yards and four touchdowns. He has caught 244 passes for 3,681 yards and 33 touchdowns since joining the team in 2005 as a free agent.

"When you lose a player of Plaxico's ability, it is incumbent that everybody step up and fill the void," said Coughlin, whose team is 11-1 and a win away from clinching the NFC East. "In the last two seasons, this team has done an outstanding job of that."

Fines in the NFL typically mean a player loses a paycheck for each game he misses. In Burress' case, that would mean roughly $206,000 per regular-season game. He also was due to receive $1 million from his signing bonus on Dec. 10. It was not immediately clear whether the team still had to make the payment.

The player's latest woes began in the wee hours Saturday morning when he shot himself in the VIP section of a club called the Latin Quarter, where he went with two teammates.

Pierce's lawyer said Tuesday he contacted prosecutors as soon as he was hired by the linebacker on Monday.

"After the events in question, Mr. Pierce did what any other reasonable person would do under the circumstances, he hired counsel," attorney Michael Bachner said. He said he hasn't been notified that Pierce will be charged.

"Mr. Pierce, given the extraordinary circumstances of that evening, acted responsibly in trying to save what could have been the life of a friend," Bachner said.

The episode has frustrated police from the start. Officers said they were promised by NFL officials Monday that Pierce would appear for questioning. He has not.

Police said Tuesday that the Giants sent two trainers and an official who deals with player issues to talk to them about the shooting. That includes Charles Way, the director of player development, and trainer Ronnie Barnes.

Pierce declined to answer questions about the shooting on his regular Tuesday afternoon spot on Sirius NFL Radio. "It's not appropriate with the police being involved. ... I've got to be strong," he said.

Bradshaw's attorney, Charles Stacy, said his client wasn't suspected of any wrongdoing.

Both players said they were planning to speak with the district attorney's office soon.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg spoke out again Tuesday, saying he talked to Mara and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. He told them the law says "you see something, you got to call the cops. That's the thing you should do."