Plaxico Burress Sounds Like he has the Perfect Combination of Humility and Self-Confidence in Comeback Attempt to Society and the NFL

August 25, 2011 – 11:25 am by Michael Bean

So far, so good for Plaxico Burress and his attempt to return to the NFL successfully following a long stint in prison. Burress seems to be off to a great start with the New York Jets, and more importantly, legitimately sounds like he’s got his head on straight as he tries to make the most of the opportunity afforded to him by Rex Ryan and the Jets organization. Burress hauled in a touchdown pass in New York’s preseason win over the Cincinnati Bengals, and though he needs to still lose some rust and add polish to his game after such a long time away from the game, he definitely looks like he can be a dangerous weapon for Mark Sanchez and the Jets’ offense in 2011.

Burress joined WQAM in Miami to talk about why it is that every player, himself included now, loves to play for Rex Ryan, the strong emotions he felt when he returned to action last week in the Jets preseason win over the Bengals, his touchdown reception, how he can be that type of weapon for Mark Sanchez that can beat one-on-one coverage against the blitz, what he’s learned about himself and life this past three years, the thousands of letters he received from fans while in prison and how that changed his outlook on people and his own purpose in life, going from the Giants to the Jets in a football and media crazed town like New York, how hard it was to be confined in prison after the lifestyle he had previously enjoyed, what it was like the first night he returned home from prison, and how hyped he is for the Jets season opener against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday Night Football.

On both he and Santonio Holmes going up to Irvin during a recent Jets practice to mention just how much they enjoy playing for Rex Ryan:

“Man, it’s special. And I don’t say that just to make it sound good, because it is. Rex has created a special environment here where you get up in the morning and you come through that door, and the goal is to win a championship and get better every day. The atmosphere around here is so relaxed when we’re off the football field, but when we’re on the field we’re working. He’s so passionate about what he does, he’s so supportive of all his players. He’s got the back of all his players, and the players have the ultimate respect for him. And it’s the same way from the coaches to the players. So it’s a special place. Like you said, everybody can’t be a Jet, and now that I’ve been here a few weeks I understand why.”

On the emotions of returning to the football field the other night during the Jets preseason win over the Bengals:

“Walking out on that football field last week was definitely a surreal feeling. It was something that I had been waiting for for 30 or so odd months, and just to have the opportunity to play in this league again, to play with some of the best players, the best athletes in the world, was definitely a great feeling. You know, it still feels like football to me. I just wanted to go out and get my feet wet. I expected to be a little sore yesterday and today,  but that’s part of the game. I definitely have a lot of work ahead of me. I have to sharpen up my routes, I have to be better mentally, I made a few mental errors the other night, and you know, it’s just a lot of work ahead of me.”

On him beating one-on-one coverage for a TD in the Jets last preseason game, and him being that type of threat for Mark Sanchez when the young quarterback is facing blitzes:

“There’s no doubt about it. I just want to be that guy that he can count on week in and week out, and be that security blanket if they’re giving a ‘Zero Blitz-Nine’ or whatever they may call it, just to be that guy on the edge that lines up every Sunday one-on-one and they expect me to win. I’ve been away for three years, but I have that confidence in myself to win one-on-one, and I want them to believe that. We need to establish that relationship and communication early and I feel we got off to a good start.”

On what he’s learned about himself and life during this past three years:

“What I went through and what I put myself and my family through, you can’t really go to a lower spot or place than where I went. To just stay positive everyday was the hardest thing, just to stay positive and keep fighting and not give up, because I had some days in there where I was in a bad mood and didn’t want to talk to anybody and things like that. But I had a lot of support, my people rallied around me, my support system got stronger, and even all the fans, all the thousands of letters– I was receiving like a hundred letters a day from fans all around – it humbled me to an extent to where I could fight through this, I could stay strong, I could beat it. Like I said, I had to dominate that situation first before I did anything else in life at that point. I just learned a lot about myself, remaining patient, staying positive, remaining optimistic, remaining faithful and all those things, and I came out on top.”

If he has a changed perspective about his fans since receiving all those thousands of letters while in prison:

“I just look at everybody as human beings, and I just have a lot of respect for everybody. It doesn’t matter what you do or what your lifestyle might be, what your job is or anything like that. I just look at people as human beings and I have a new found respect for just taking the time to have a conversation or to shake their hand or to sign autographs and things like that. But those are the bonuses, those are the privileges things and different things like that. But all the letters I received from fans, it was humbling because I don’t think at that time for me playing football for nine years that I understood the magnitude of me the person. And I said, you know what, I can do better, I can serve a higher purpose and reach out and help a person going through a difficult situation in life that you just keep fighting and you can come out on top.”

On going from the Giants to the Jets in a crazy media market and football loving town like New York:

“They can’t help but love me on both sides the way I see it. So the way I look at it is I have the most football fans in the state of New York because I done played with both teams. So that’s the way I look at it. My Giants history, that will always be a part of me because of the things that we’ve done. But for me now man, it’s just a fresh start. For me to come back to New York, it’s just a great platform for me to go back and serve a higher purpose, to go out and get back to that elite level, to go out into the community with The National Urban League and the Brady Campaign, and for my whole rehabilitation and all of those things.  For me to be able to stay here and have this whole platform that I have before me to play football and to give back and all those things, I just think it’s a great place for me to be in.”

On going from the fast lifestyle to being confined in prison:

“Man, from living the lifestyle that you live playing in this business and being able to go wherever you want, man, it was tough. That was the hardest thing about that. And being away from your family is tough too. So it was definitely tough, I wouldn’t wish it on anybody. I’m just happy it’s over with and I can laugh about it on the back end, and just be humbled by it and just take the next steps.”

Listen here to Burress on The Michael Irvin Show on WQAM in Miami

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