Since when did Eli Manning become the villain when it comes to his relationship with Plaxico Burress? There was a lot of talk criticizing the Giants quarterback for not reaching out to his former-wideout after Burress was released from prison and looking hook up in the NFL again. Get over it, Manning owed Burress nothing.
Last night, the New York Giants and New York Jets played for the first MetLife trophy at MetLife Stadium in the Meadowlands, although most fans were billing it as The Plaxico Bowl as if the former-Giant is the real prize.
The MetLife Trophy has cute Snoopy wearing an old-school helmet on top of it. The comic strip seemed appropriate because the game was as flat as Charlie Brown on his back after trying to kick the seductive football yanked away by Lucy. It's like a Matt Dodge punt.
Manning threw two interceptions and Burress was a non-factor while being held to zero catches.
The Plaxico Comeback Tour stalled against his former team.
Final score of the game, Jets 17-3. Final score of The Plaxico Bowl, 0-0.
Even Jets coach Rex Ryan tried to hype the yawner afterwards.
"It was a fun game, man. It was two good football teams going at it," he said of the game after his team was outgained 239-113 in total yards during the 17-3 win. "Obviously, it's a preseason game, but it's good competition."
Much was made of what the first face-to-face between Manning and Burress, leading up to the game and since the latter was sprung from the joint, would be like. Well the meeting last night was anti-climatic.
Funny thing, they unexpectedly reunited two days earlier outside a movie theater where Burress was coming out of "The Smurfs" (no Big Blue there) with his family and he ran into Manning and former-Giants center Shaun O'Hara. Burress said they laughed about the coincidence last night.
The highly-publicized preseason tug-of-war for the services of Burress was ultimately won by the Jets. Many Giants fans faulted Manning for not reaching out to Burress when he was a free-agent.
Sure, it's easy to make fun of Manning's "Aw, shucks" interviews, his less than flashy play on the field and how he tucks his jersey into his pants, but don't lay the blame on him.
So Manning didn't visit Burress when he was in stir or call him once he got out. Some Giants fans thought that Manning's cold shoulder contributed to the former-Giants player to jumping over to the Jets. He had no obligation to guide Burress. That's what parole officers do.
Plax went to the Jets was all money--plain and simple. A guaranteed paycheck, after you haven't worked in almost three years, will do that to a man.
While Manning represents team play and character, Burress is the prototype of how fans perceive pro athletes these days-- and it ain't all good-- unless he's pulling in touchdown passes.
Burress was Manning's favorite go-to guy leading up to their Super Bowl XLII upset victory over the New England Patriots and the wideout caught the game-winning touchdown, but a lot of bumps came on that ride.
There were too many instances, with the Giants, where Burress boycotted practices over contract demands, didn't show up on Monday or answer his phone for days at a time. It all culminated with the self-inflicted gun-shot incident outside a Manhattan nightclub in November 2008. After 20 months of three squares and a bunk, Burress was ready to make his comeback and the MetLife Stadium roommates were first in line.
Suddenly, it was up to Manning to do what head coach Tom Coughlin and owner John Mara's little dinner party couldn't do-- convince Burress he was coveted by the Giants.
Maybe Manning didn't want the 34 year-old Burress and the baggage he drags along. Even though the Giants lost All-Pro receiver Steve Smith right after Burress' defection, Manning seems happy throwing to his youthful and talented receiving corps of Mario Manningham, Hakeem Nicks and Domenik Hixon. Burress, so far, seems like a good decoy for Santonio Holmes.
Manning has to back up this boast of being in Tom Brady's class and prove he isn't the 25-interception quarterback of last season. He has done little this pre-season to prove or disprove any of that so far this summer.
Meanwhile, Burress has to keep on the straight and narrow and the Jets hope he doesn't revert back to his gangsta persona. Michael Vick's second chance $100 million contract has to be a good incentive.
The "real" MetLife Trophy will be awarded when the two teams meet on Christmas Eve. Hopefully, all the hype about Eli vs. Plaxico will have passed by then.
"I don't know if there are any tickets available for that Dec. 24 game," said Ryan. "But I think we just sold them because that was typical Jets-Giants slugfest right there."