At first glance, Jerry Reese's choice to discuss Plaxico Burress' future with the Giants on Tuesday seemed odd. His team had just signed three new players, there was absolutely nothing new to report about Burress and it's a difficult thing for Reese to talk about because of all the variables. Ralph Vacchiano of the Daily News may have hit on the reason why Reese felt he needed to address that topic on Wednesday.
Two of the players signed by the Giants, defensive tackle Rocky Bernard and linebacker Michael Boley, were arrested for domestic violence in 2008. Bernard was suspended for the first Seahawks game of the season, in fact, as a result of violating the league's personal conduct policy. Reese said that the Giants were confident that these were "isolated incidents" involving "two pretty good people."
Reese certainly did his due dilligence before forking over millions of other people's money. Hopefully, Bernard and Boley made mistakes, learned from them and won't repeat them. That said, a willingness to overlook character red flags in two cases is naturally going to lead to a question about your willingness to overlook them in Burress' case. Reese, for his part, was consistent and said that the Giants would welcome Burress back if he was free from legal trouble. After signing Bernard and Boley, he couldn't really say anything else.
It's nearly impossible to build a roster in today's NFL without a handful of players who have rap sheets that would leave ordinary citizens behind bars or unemployable. Talent trumps legal concerns 99 times out of 100, and a NFL player has to make a Michael Vick-sized splash to become the odd man out. Adam Jones, Leonard Little and others can attest to the league's level of forgiveness whenever it both legally feasible and beneficial to a team's goals.
There's no doubt that the Giants have a problem with Burress' decision to bring an unlicensed gun to a nightclub. Their bigger issue with him, however, is his disinclination to practice and following team rules, not society's. Obviously they have no concerns about Bernard or Boley, so long as they punch the clock and do what they're told in practice and games. Their doubts about Burress' ability to do the same will likely be the deciding factor in his future, even if his legal problems disappear in the night.