EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Super Bowl hero Plaxico Burress is done for the year.
The New York Giants fined and suspended Burress yesterday for four games - the rest of the regular season - after he accidentally shot himself in the right thigh over the weekend at a Manhattan nightclub. The team also placed him on the reserve non-football injury list, which means the wide receiver couldn't come back for playoffs, either.
The team punished Burress a day after he was charged with illegal weapons possession, 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 yesterday morning at Giants Stadium, and met individually with Giants president John Mara, general manager Jerry Reese and coach Tom Coughlin. He left for a medical test and returned in the afternoon for another brief session with team officials.
Even as they suspended him for conduct detrimental to the team, Giants officials made conciliatory statements about Burress, who caught a touchdown pass from Eli Manning that gave the Giants a 17-14 Super Bowl win over New England in February.
"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.
Dr. Scott Rodeo, a team physician, examined Burress and told the Giants that the gunshot wound would have sidelined the 31-year-old player from four to six weeks anyway.
"I had two conversations with Plaxico today, and it was obvious that he understood the magnitude of this situation," Reese said.
"He knows that we are here to support him and help him get healthy."
This is the second time the Giants have suspended the troubled receiver this season. He missed the Oct. 2 game against Seattle for missing a team meeting. He also has been fined dozens of times since 2005 for violating team rules, and he was hit with a $45,000 fine by the league this season for abusing an official and throwing a ball into the stands during a game.
"Our concern all along has been for Plaxico the person, not Plaxico the player," team chairman Steve Tisch said. "We are here to support him and his family as he recovers from his wound and deals with some serious issues."
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.
"When you lose a player of Plaxico's ability, it is incumbent that everybody step up and fill the void," said Coughlin, whose team is 11-1 and a win away from clinching the NFC East. "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."
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.
The trouble began early Saturday when he shot himself in the VIP section of a club called the Latin Quarter, where he went with two teammates.
Authorities want to interview Antonio Pierce and Ahmad Bradshaw, who were at the club but say they did nothing wrong.
Police want to know what Pierce did moments after the shooting and whether he took part in a cover-up. They 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.
Pierce's lawyer said he contacted prosecutors as soon as he was hired by the linebacker.
"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.
The episode has frustrated police from the start.
Officers said they were promised by NFL officials Monday that Pierce would appear for questioning, but he still hasn't.