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SportsColumnistsBob Glauber

Burress to be released from prison

Will former Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress be

Will former Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress be able to return to form on the field, and piece back together his life off it? Photo Credit: AP

The self-inflicted nightmare that began with his self-inflicted gunshot wound is about to come to an end for former Giants receiver Plaxico Burress.

Sometime Monday morning, the 33-year-old Burress will walk out of the Oneida State Correctional facility in Rome, N.Y., having ended his incarceration for an accidental self-shooting at a New York nightclub on Nov. 28, 2008. The ordeal finally will be over for the man who caught the winning touchdown pass in the Giants' upset of the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.

"I'm excited about Plax's release on Monday," said his agent, Drew Rosenhaus. "He is healthy and he is in great shape."

And he is ready to resume his NFL career, according to Rosenhaus, who no doubt will spend time with Burress after his release from prison.

Burress is expected to travel to his home in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., a short drive from where Rosenhaus lives. The agent says Burress is excited about the prospects of playing again.

"He will be a highly sought free agent once the lockout is over," Rosenhaus said.

Now it's a matter of where Burress might end up, what type of player he'll be after missing more than two years of football and, most importantly, what type of man he'll be after paying a huge price for his transgression.

Burress has barely spoken publicly since being imprisoned, and it's uncertain whether he'll have anything to say upon his release. But his close friend, Giants running back Brandon Jacobs, said Burress will be fine upon re-entering society when his sentence is over.

Another positive sign for the receiver, who will turn 34 on Aug. 12: He plans to consult with former Colts and Buccaneers coach Tony Dungy, who has worked with several inmates in recent years, most notably former Falcons quarterback Michael Vick when he was imprisoned for running an illegal dogfighting operation. There could not be a better person to help smooth the transition.

Dungy's work with Vick was a key factor in the quarterback's return to the NFL; Vick now is the Eagles' starting QB and by all accounts has turned his life around, frequently addressing young people about the dangers associated with dogfighting.

It's uncertain whether Burress will become an advocate for gun safety in the wake of his self-shooting. But what he needs to concentrate on first is returning to his family and making sure he has matured to the point that he avoids situations like the one that got him in trouble in the first place.

The football part? That shouldn't be much of a problem. It's almost a foregone conclusion that Burress won't be back with the Giants, by mutual consent. He repeatedly clashed with coach Tom Coughlin, and the Giants have enough quality young receivers that they don't need Burress. The Jets could give him a look-see, but only if they can't sign Randy Moss in the event they don't keep Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards.

Jacobs believes Burress would play with the Eagles, where he'd actually be a good fit. Not only would he join a receiver corps that already has DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, but he'd play with Vick, who no doubt would help the transition because of his own experiences.

The Ravens also have been mentioned as a possibility. But the team I'd keep an eye on is St. Louis. Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo was the Giants' defensive coordinator when Burress last played in the NFL, and the two had a good relationship. The Rams have a need at receiver and can be patient enough with second-year quarterback Sam Bradford to allow Burress a year to get his timing back. Before the lockout, Rams general manager Billy Devaney spoke with Rosenhaus.

But the football stuff comes later. For now, it's Burress getting his first taste of freedom in nearly two years. Here's hoping the man finds his way.

New York Sports