BURRESS ABSENCE PERPLEXING TO MANY
League insiders are scratching their noggins regarding the failure of receiver Plaxico Burress to report for the Steelers' first mandatory minicamp of the 2004 offseason.
Burress, who is entering the final year of his contract, hasn't been griping about the lack of a contract extension, and he hasn't pushed for a trade -- despite the fact that teams like the Chiefs have made no secret about their desire to obtain his rights.
Indeed, with USC receiver Mike Williams kept out of the April draft, it would have been a great time for Burress and/or his agent to declare a desire to be dealt absent a new contract.
That's why many within the league can't understand the decision, only two weeks later, not to show up for an activity that he is contractually obligated to attend.
Adding to the confusion is the fact that Burress hasn't linked his absence to his contract status. Instead, the absence has been characterized by his agent as a personal matter, on which the agent won't elaborate.
"I'm not comfortable describing the nature of the personal thing," Scott Parker said. "Nothing about his contract was mentioned in my discussions with him."
There has been speculation that Burress is down in the dumps, given that it's Mother's Day weekend and his own mother died unexpectedly two years ago.
Burress already has pocketed $207,000 of his 2004 pay via a March roster bonus. He's scheduled to earn $535,000 in salary, and more than $1 million of his 2000 signing bonus applies to this fifth year of the contract. Though the raw dollars Burress will make in 2004 arguably is a bit on the low side, Parker said that Burress will be at training camp.
Even stranger is the fact that Burress has been present and active in the voluntary phases of the Steelers' offseason program.
So what's happening here? One of our sources has floated an interesting theory, and before we 'splain it we need to say plainly and clearly that this is speculation, not fact.
Our source tells us that the first mandatory minicamp of the offseason is the first opportunity for players to be tested for the presence of certain recreational substances in their, ahem, liquid byproducts. So if (and, again, this is speculation only) Burress has any reason to fear the (piss) reaper, bolting the 'Burgh on the eve of the minicamp would be the smart thing to do.
Under these circumstances, facing a potential fine of up to $7,446 is a no-brainer in comparison to possibly getting on the wrong side of the substance abuse guidelines as Burress attempts to get a big-money contract.
The problem, however, is that there's no good way out of this mess for Burress. If he isn't AWOL because of concerns that he has certain compounds in his body that might get him in trouble with the league office, he needs to explain to the powers-that-be in Pittsburgh each and every reason for his absence -- and it had better be persuasive.
Otherwise, the Steelers might start shopping the former Michigan State product to teams like the Chiefs and the Bears. We're even hearing that the Lions might be interested in Burress, which we frankly find hard to fathom given that they've already got a burgeoning stash (whoops) of receivers in Motown already.
Stay tuned on this one. There has been a difference of opinion in the front office as to whether Burress should be traded, and this latest episode could be enough to make the team make a move.
This is interesting news regarding Plaxico Burress, I doubt that he is on steroids and is likely grieving for his mother and since he has been to voluntary workouts it even complicates the situation moreso.