Giants' Burress suffers gunshot wound

November 30, 2008 9:31:29 AM PST
Giants receiver Plaxico Burress has retained New York defense attorney Ben Brafman to represent him after the ninth-year veteran accidentally shot himself in the thigh Friday night at a Manhattan night club. Brafman told ESPN's Sal Paolantonio that Burress will be interviewed Monday by New York police and is "fully cooperating" with authorities. When asked about the whereabouts of the gun involved in the incident, Brafman said "we're dealing with that today with the police."

Burress, who was out Friday night with Giants linebacker Antonio Pierce, was treated overnight and released from a New York hospital on Saturday afternoon.

According to an NFL official, the bullet went through the skin and muscle tissue of Burress' right thigh and did not hit any major arteries, and that there were no broken bones, Paolantonio reported.

"I would hope that fans of the New York Giants will give Plaxico the benefit of the doubt and the presumption of innocence -- something we're all supposed to be given in this country," Brafman said in a statement.

A league official told Paolantonio the bullet went through the skin and muscle tissue of Burress' right thigh, and did not hit any major arteries, and there were no broken bones.

The Giants, in a statement Saturday afternoon, said Burress suffered a wound to his right thigh. The team did not specify in its statement how the shooting occured.

"We are aware of the fact that Plaxico was involved in an apparent accidental shooting last night. We have been in contact with Plaxico since shortly after the incident," the team said in a statement. "Obviously, our primary concern is for Plaxico's health and well-being, and given the circumstances, we are relieved to say he was released from a New York City hospital at approximately 2 p.m. today.

"We have been in touch with NFL Security on this matter. At this point, we are attempting to gather all the facts surrounding this incident. This incident could become a matter for law enforcement officials, and because of that, we have no comment on any of the details."

Police told ESPN's Jeremy Schaap that Burress was with Giants teammate Antonio Pierce when the shooting occurred. Pierce, who is now with the team in Washington, D.C., for Sunday's game against the Redskins, is cooperating and has spoken to police by phone. Director of NFL security Milt Ahlerich is also in Washington to investigate.

A source told Paolantonio that Pierce will start Sunday.

New York and local police went to Burress' New Jersey home Saturday to speak with the receiver and were denied entrance.

Giants coach Tom Coughlin told Paolantonio: "We have people on the scene trying to gather information, get all the facts, determine exactly what happened. Right now we're concerned about Plaxico and finding out all the details."

Burress, who was ruled out for Sunday's game against the Washington Redskins because of a hamstring injury, was not at team meetings and did not attend the team's Saturday walkthrough.

ESPN medical analyst Dr. Michael Kaplan said the gunshot wound inflicted by Burress, at short range with soft tissue damage, can cause bleeding and swelling. But because there was no artery, nerve or bone involvement, and assuming there is no tissue death or infection, he can probably return to the Giants lineup in two to four weeks. Phone calls to Burress' home and his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, were not immediately returned, The Associated Press reported.

"We are gathering information, just like everyone else," NFL spokesman Joe Browne said.

In late September, Burress was suspended for a game and fined $117,500 for a violation of team rules, reportedly for failing to appear at a team meeting and failing to notify the team of his absence. At the time, Rosenhaus said that Burress was tending to urgent family matters.

He also was fined $45,000 by the NFL for his conduct during a game against the 49ers in October, when he abused an official and tossed a ball into the stands.

Burress signed a five-year, $35 million contract this fall after helping the Giants win a Super Bowl championship last season.

The signing came after an unsettling offseason, during which Burress was fined $25,000 for refusing to practice at a mandatory minicamp in June. He also missed most of training camp at the University at Albany with a sprained ankle. He insisted the injury -- not his contract -- kept him off the field.

Despite his lack of practice time, Burress started in the opener against Washington and caught 10 passes for 133 yards. The following week, he had five catches for 81 yards and a touchdown in a win over St. Louis.

The rest of the season has not been as productive. The most passes he has caught in any game since is four, in a loss to Cleveland on Oct. 13, the game that followed his suspension.

Burress has 35 catches for 454 yards and four touchdowns in a season in which he has constantly drawn double coverage. His streak of receptions in 115 consecutive games ended last week in Arizona. He aggravated his hamstring injury during the first series and did not return.

It was the sixth-longest active streak in the league, dating to Nov. 26, 2000 against Cincinnati, Burress' rookie season in Pittsburgh.

Signed as a free agent in 2005, Burress had caught a pass in all 56 previous games in which he had played for the Giants.

ESPN's Sal Paolantonio and Jeremy Schaap, senior writer John Clayton and The Associated Press contributed to this report.