Plaxico Burress caught the game-winning TD against the Patriots in the Super Bowl but almost missed the game after injuring his knee the week before …
– My ankle hurt. I don’t have a contract. Coach Coughlin, he end up fining me and all type of shit. I missed the whole preseason. The game started at 7:00. I’m not playing. I was at home, and my phone rings. They said, “Plaxico, we got your contract done.” I walked in the locker room. I put on my uniform. Ten catches and 133 yards, and I hadn’t played since the Super Bowl. – So who we got in the pool hall today? Oh, we got big Plax in the building. Plaxico Burress. What’s good, baby? – I’m living pretty good, man.
Enjoying the retired life a little bit – Yeah, that’s right. You nice on the sticks, or what’s up? – I ain’t too bad. How much money we got on the table? – Oh, how much money? Hold up, wait a minute. – When the money goes on the table, I get a lot better.
– We gonna play 10 a ball? What’s up? – Oh, wed get a lot better.
– What’s up? – I’ll take the wallet. – [Laughing] We’ll see how it plays out. – I’m ready when you ready. – All right, go ahead. Break it real quick then. So, Plax, you were known to play through injuries, right? – Right. – 2007, you’re with the Giants,
and they win the Super Bowl that year. – Right. – What happens before the season
with your ankle? – Well, in the offseason, I had some bone spurs removed from my left ankle. Going into the training camp, I just jumped up for a pass over the middle. Subconsciously in my mind, I didn’t wanna put my left ankle down because,
you know, it was still a little tender from the surgery. – Absolutely. – So I just come down, and I just put all my weight on my right foot, and I just hear, like, a little pop, and I just thought I just, you know – On the right one? – Yeah, on my right one. I tried to run and then cut; it hurts when I’m cutting. So I really don’t know what’s wrong. And so I end up missing the whole training camp, the whole preseason. We get into the first game of the season against Dallas, and I have a good game. Eight catches, three touchdowns. – I’m a Cowboys fan. You ain’t gotta rub it in. – Oh, man, I’mma rub it in all the way then. – [Laughing] – So I think I had eight catches, 144 yards and three touchdowns.
– Aw, damn. – I think it was Sunday Night Football. So, yeah, so take that with you. – On two bad ankles? – On two bad ankles. – The following week, were playing against the Green Bay Packers at home. Al Harris is guarding me. He steps on my foot, and it just [popping noise]. And I heard, like, a crunch, like a [crunching noise]. And that’s when I kind of knew that the injury had went all the way south. I had a tendon that was completely snapped in half, with no stability in my foot or ankle. And the following Monday, I went upstairs to Jerry Reese, who was the general manager at the time, and I’m like, “I can’t perform the way that I want to. I can’t push off my ankle. I can’t push off of my foot. “We’ll get some more tests, see what’s really going on. So me and Ronnie Barnes, who was the head trainer for the Giants,
we flew down to Charlotte, North Carolina, to see Dr. Bob Anderson. And – Foot specialist that a lot of players see.
– Foot specialist, a lot of well-respected, one of the best in the world. He was like, “You know, I can do three things. No. 1, I can just put him in a cast for eight weeks, but I’m afraid that if he’s in a cast for eight weeks, when he comes out of the cast, his leg is going to be so weak that he’s not going to be able to perform anyway. No. 2, I can break his heel and reset it.” And when he said break your heel, I’m like, Well, that’s definitely not an option. I’m not just gonna let you break my foot on purpose. So they wanted to break my heel and reset it and reattach the
deltoid ligament that I had torn off the bone. And it was like, No. 3, he can simply just play. It’s gonna be based on his pain tolerancehow much pain, you know, he can take. John Mara, who’s the owner, and Ronnie Barnes, they were like,
“Do you think you can go out and play on Sundays and not practice?” – So you’d be on the field once a week, game days. – Yeah, just once a week, just on Sunday. – And we know football’s so predicated on practice. – Yeah, it’s one of those things, itsnobody had ever done it. And when they asked me the question, I was like, I don’t know. I’ll give it a try. And in the back of my mind, I was like, I’m putting my career on the line for the team. As the season goes on, I go out and play. My teammates have no idea why I’m not practicing. – What’d they think, it was like a vet privilege that you had or something?
– Yeah, yeah. Everybody was like, Oh, man, you found a loophole in the system. I couldn’t tell anybody. – Yeah. – And the owner and the trainer, they never spoke about it in the media. Eli and myself, we spent a lot of time together when I wasn’t playing. I was playing some of the best football in my life, and I kinda
attribute that to my ankle was in a lot of pain, but my legs were fresh on Sunday. – How was that dynamic? – A lot of times, he would give me signals, and the team had no idea
what was going on. It was just me and him on the same page based off of what we
saw on film and how the guy was playing me. – What was some of his signals? What do you remember from that? – Oh, man, it was, like, you know, behind the back, down the leg for double seam. It was, like, slant K. You know, when I got into the red zone, he would give me the head nod. I was running the slant, and when he gave me the no, I was running the fade. Kevin Gilbride, who was our offensive coordinator, he was like,
“Man, what the hell was that? What did you just do?” I was like, “Hey, man, Eli gave me the slant signal, so I ran a slant. It’s a first down. We broke a lot of rules. Nobody could really figure it out. – Oh, shit. – Uh-oh. Things are getting real competitive real quick. – How are you playing through this injury though? Like, how are you finding the energy and the effort to play through this? – You know, I really don’t know. I would wake up on Monday mornings, and my ankle would
probably be, like, this big around, and it was just trying to get to the next Sunday. Get the swelling down, get me off my feet and just get it to the point to where
I could just bear the pain just to play into the following Sunday. – That’s incredible, man. So the ankle injury bothered you all season. Still, you have your career year though. – Right. – Numbers-wise, what do you end up doing in the regular season? Do you remember? – I think I had, like, 70 catches, 1,000 yards and 12 touchdowns. And when I didn’t make the Pro Bowl, I was pissed. – Why? – Talking about cats who practice every day and didn’t put up the numbers that I put up. It pissed me off so bad that when I got to the playoffs, I took it up another level. – Talk to me: What happened in the playoffs? – Oh, man, we just smoked everybody in front of us. Straight up. I was mad, man. That shit pissed me off, man. The week of the Super Bowl, I come out of the shower and slip, and I, like, catch myself. Maybe I, you know, kinda twisted my knee a little bit. And I turn on the lights, and I look at my knee, and my knee is, like,
swollen all the way around. I got the ankle and the MCL all on one damn leg. Fast-forward to Sunday, they wrap my knee up. They give me some really, really, really good medicine. – [Laughing] What, Tora, or you know what you was on? – Oh, man, I don’t know what it was. – [Laughing] – Even if I knew what it was, I wouldn’t say nothing. But, man, I didn’t have a knee. – You had to do what you had to do, man. – Man, I felt like I had bought a knee off eBay or something. I was feeling fantastic. So fast-forward to the game, to the fourth quarter. – At this point too, how’s your knee feeling? How’s your ankle feeling? – I’m saying to myself, I said, You know what, man? My knee’s killing me. I said, You know what? It’s a Super Bowl. If I gotta jump off of this leg like it’s not hurting, if I tear my knee up, then fuck it. And the ball couldn’t come down fast enough. And I was just saying to myself, I said, Man, if you drop this football, you will not be allowed back in New Jersey. – [Laughing] – Still to this day, even as time goes on, it starts to mean even more to you. – Antonio Pierce is over there at ASU now. Go Devils. He said you sacrificed your future earnings that season with what you did. – I did. – Were the players respecting kind of what you were doing as they
started to find out what it took for you to be on the field? – I think later on they started to understand the severity of my injury. But, you know, I put it all on the line for myself and them. After that season, I did not work out or run for, like, six whole months. – After the Super Bowl? – I couldn’t run. I didn’t run nowhere. I said, Man, I’mma take this time off to heal up and to get myself better so I can go out and play, you know, for the season. – Stayin in my zone – Man, this boy been practicing. – [Laughing] – Knowing he was gonna be shooting pool on this show.