New York Giants running back Brandon Jacobs said it: “If we had Plax on our team, we go 15-1 and we win the Super Bowl.” Jacobs was referring to New York’s disappointing 2008 season, in which they began the year 11-1, only to lose star receiver Plaxico Burress and four of their final five games after that (including a home Divisional Round playoff contest to the hated Philadelphia Eagles).
Ignore the part about 15-1 and a second Super Bowl title––those debatable details really aren’t relevant. What is relevant is Jacobs’s general message: the Giants were a weaker team without Burress. That is absolutely true.
What’s awkward is that Burress flies in the face of everything that Tom Coughlin and the Mara and Tisch families stand for. He is selfish and notoriously unpunctual. His work ethic would be snickered at even in France. Off the field, Burress is a menace who relies on deep pockets to overcome society’s rigorous demands of common decency. His on-field character can be equally as deplorable when he doesn’t get the ball early in games. And yet, the Giants need him. Or, someone like him.
Burress’s 1,000-yard type production is not what makes him valuable. Rather, like an armed security guard, it’s his mere presence that’s important. Burress is by no means the game’s best wideout. But because he’s 6’5”, 232, lanky as a giraffe and strong as an ox, he has an uncanny blend of skills that makes him impossible to contain one-on-one. Defenses must play Burress underneath and over the top.
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