Plaxico Burress couldn't find his cell phone in time to tell the New York Giants why he was blowing off Monday's practice. Four days later, he's still having trouble finding his voice. Unfortunately, that's never been a problem for his agent, Drew Rosenhaus.
Soon after the Giants suspended Burress for two weeks, but only one game, and docked him $235,294.12 in pay, his mouthpiece got on a conference call and summed up how he planned to appeal his client's case to the players' association and the court of public opinion.
``There are things that take place in the NFL that are worse and don't result in a suspension,'' Rosenhaus helpfully reminded everyone.
That's like getting stopped for speeding and telling the cop there's a burglary in progress somewhere else at that very moment - rarely a good idea, and even worse for repeat offenders like Burress.
y might be a hot topic in bigger circles than sports these days, but it's been Rosenhaus' specialty since he hung out his shingle nearly 30 years ago. Rosenhaus' past and present client list reads like a ``Who's Who'' of Selfish (T.O., Chad Johnson, among others), and - get this - he takes 5 percent of everything they get.
But in the same way a stopped clock is right twice a day, Rosenhaus did raise two valid points:
First, the fine probably is excessive, since the Giants have a bye this weekend. All Burress missed was some film and weightlifting, and withholding one week's salary would have had the same effect. Which leads to the second point - that nothing takes place in a vacuum.
Burress and the Giants have been down the disciplinary road before and this latest dust-up has been simmering since June. That's when he showed up for a mandatory minicamp, refused to practice because the club wouldn't negotiate a new contract, and was fined $42,000.
But Burress got the money back, and plenty more, when the Giants relented just before the opener and gave him a two-year extension that pushes his average salary into the $7 million range over the next five years. Then he went out and led the team in catches in three straight wins, and that was the end of that - at least until Burress went AWOL.
t have stayed there, if Burress had put down the phone, dashed off a a check, apologized and resisted the urge to call Rosenhaus. Just about everything that's happened since proves speech might be free, but it's rarely cheap.
Rosenhaus said his client was attending to a family emergency. Then, a New Jersey newspaper reported that police have been to Burress' home twice in the past few months because of domestic disturbance calls. Both times, restraining orders were issued, but then dropped in court, the paper said. While there's nothing to indicate a link in this latest incident, Rosenhaus has yet to come across a bad situation he couldn't make worse.
Now Burress has another blemish on his reputation, increased scrutiny from the NFL's personal-conduct police, and a bull's-eye on his back. Plus, chances he'll ever get the fine money back are dwindling by the minute.
NFL Players Association spokesman Carl Francis said Thursday the union was discussing Burress' case with the league's management council, but that no grievance had been filed. Look at who's holding most of the cards and you'll see why it's likely to stay that way.
get by when the Giants play Seattle next weekend and still let Burress know what he thought of his alibi. And hearing it parroted by Rosenhaus no doubt made him like it less. If the Giants didn't have concerns about Burress' ability to keep his personal life in order, they certainly do now.
It's premature, not to mention melodramatic, to say this flap is going to endanger the Giants' season. Every season is chock-full of distractions and this New York team, just like the New England team it slipped past to win the Super Bowl, is used to those.
The bottom line is that there has to be some accountability, and ``I forgot to call'' doesn't cut it. That much was clear when reporters repeatedly asked Rosenhaus why Burress couldn't pick up the phone. The best his agent could muster was, ``Gotta go.''
If only the guy would.
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Jim Litke is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at jlitkeap.org

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