EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The fallout from Plaxico Burress' self-inflicted gunshot wound may still cause problems for New York Giants middle linebacker Antonio Pierce and affect the team's bid for a second straight Super Bowl title.
New York Giants' Plaxico Burress, right, arrives at Manhattan Supreme Court for arraignment with an unidentified man Monday, Dec. 1, 2008, in New York. Burress accidentally shot himself at a Manhattan nightclub Friday evening and was treated at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center. He was released Saturday.
(AP Photo/David Karp)
Just days after Burress accidentally shot himself in the right thigh at a Manhattan nightclub, the Giants fined and suspended the star receiver on Tuesday for four games — the rest of the regular season. The team also placed him on the reserve non-football injury list, which means he won't be back for the playoffs, either.
"When you lose a player of Plaxico's ability, it is incumbent that everybody step up and fill the void," coach Tom Coughlin said. "In the last two seasons, this team has done an outstanding job of that. We made it clear to Plax today that we are here to support him in any way possible."
The Giants handed down the decision after Dr. Scott Rodeo, a team physician, examined Burress and told them the gunshot wound would sideline the 31-year-old player for 4-to-6 weeks.
The Giants (11-1) are deep at wide receiver, however, with players such as Domenik Hixon and Sinorice Moss who can replace the man who caught the game-winning pass in the 17-14 Super Bowl win over the New England Patriots.
It would be much harder to replace Pierce, the middle linebacker who quarterbacks the defense. He still faces a possible suspension.
Pierce smiled but declined to speak to The Associated Press on Wednesday morning when he reported to Giants Stadium about 8 a.m.
Pierce was with Burress at the Latin Quarter when the receiver shot himself. Running back Ahmad Bradshaw was also in the club, but not near the other two players, his attorney said.
The incident has frustrated police from the start. Officers said NFL officials promised on Monday that Pierce would appear for questioning. He has not.
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.
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.
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 about the case Tuesday, saying he talked to Giants president John 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."
Police 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 spokeswoman Kathy Robinson said Tuesday an individual has been suspended in connection with the case but would not say if the person was a doctor or hospital staff member.
A person familiar with the case said a doctor who was not a staff member came to the hospital shortly after Burress arrived around 2 a.m. and treated him. The doctor's privileges to work out of the hospital have been suspended, according to the person who was not authorized to speak publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity.
Even as the Giants suspended him for conduct detrimental to the team, team officials expressed concern for Burress.
"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."
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."
Burress faces illegal weapons possession charges from the shooting, which carries a penalty of 3 1/2 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 the stadium, and met individually with Mara, general manager Jerry Reese and Coughlin. He left for a medical test and returned in the afternoon for another brief session with team officials at which time he was informed of the fines and the suspension.
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.
Burress has been fined dozens of times since joining the team in 2005, and he was suspended for a game earlier this season for missing a team meeting. He was also fined $45,000 by the NFL for abusing an official and throwing a ball into the stands in 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.
Associated Press Writers Colleen Long and Verena Dobnik in New York and AP Football Writer Dave Goldberg contributed to this report.