It looks like Plaxico Burress found a fly in his soup during last night's dinner meeting with Tom Coughlin-- and that fly's name might be Eli Manning.
Burress can cook up every reason in the book to explain why he spurned the New York Giants for their Meadowlands cellmates--I mean stadium-mates--the New York Jets, but the absence of any public support from Manning down the stretch might have swung Burress's decision from Big Blue to Gang Green.
The Giants team is getting old and, now that the Philadelphia Eagles have buffed up their defensive backfield-- with the signing of DB-extraordinaire, Nnamdi Asomugha-- and the uncertain return of receiver Steve Smith to the Giants, the loss of Burress may have just given a huge advantage to the Eagles in their two division game match-ups.
Coughlin seemed friendlier than a flair-covered waiter at Bennigan's, leading up to his dinner with Burress, while Manning played the snobby waiter at a French bistro.
All week Roethlisberger openly campaigned for Burress' return to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Manning only mumbled a few standard comments.
"You just don't want distractions," said Manning. "Distractions, whatever they may be, can hurt a team. If you're spending your time concerned about something else, bringing your attention away from the opponent on your preparation, that's considered a distraction."
I tell you what distraction is Eli. Distraction is being asked 'Why didn't you lobby harder for Burress' about five-thousand times this week and looking for a top-notch wide-out in the fourth quarter this season.
Make no mistake, Manning supports Burress' second chance and even made a call to his former wide-out while he was in prison, but hasn't bothered to jump on the "We Want Plax" bandwagon.
By all accounts, the meeting with Coughlin went swimmingly. The head coach was smiling yesterday and put it bluntly, "The meeting went well."
Not well enough, as Burress's "fully-guaranteed," one-year deal for $3.017 million with the Jets the next day will attest.
Let's give Manning the benefit of a doubt. Maybe the silent treatment wasn't such a bad idea. I don't remember Jets quarterback, Mark Sanchez, standing in Times Square singing a tribute to the ex-con and look where Burress ended up.
"I never really lobbied for anybody," said Manning before the meeting. "So if this is the right spot for Plaxico, if the Giants and Coach Coughlin are pleased with his attitude and after talking to him, then [I'm] happy to have him."
In the end, here's what Manning's silence about signing Burress said.
No distractions. Burress' return to the Giants will disrupt an already shortened training camp. It's about the team, not one player.
Why all the fuss over a soon to be (August 12) 34 year-old receiver who hasn't played a down in 2 1/2 years?
How is a guy who was never a fan of Coughlin's discipline and structured system going to feel about routine after almost two full years in lockup? Does the prison stint help Burress cope with Coughlin's Captain Bligh act?
Finally, Manning doesn't want to insult his current group of receivers. After all, he threw for over 4,000 yards last year and has two Pro Bowl-caliber wide-outs in Steve Smith and Hakeem Nicks. Joined by Mario Manningham, Manning believes he has the nucleus of a solid receiving corp.
"I like our receivers here, I think we have a great crew, very talented, they work hard," he said. "Can you have too many good receivers? No, I don't think so. I'm going about my business and preparing for myself.
Hey, everybody wanted little Eli to man up and be more assertive--so there you go.
Maybe Burress would have picked the Giants if Manning took the time to drop a dime or, just maybe, Coughlin put that fly in the soup.