Plaxico Burress is released from the Oneida County Correction Facility in Rome, New York on Monday. Burress was released from prison after spending nearly two years behind bars on a gun charge. (Photo: AP Photo/Heather Ainsworth)
Former New York Giants receiver Plaxico Burress knew the luxurious life he enjoyed would change drastically once he entered prison in 2009.
But Burress had no idea how different of a world he was entering until he was there serving time on gun charges. The food left much to be desired and he found himself surrounded by people he considered real criminals. The star receiver, who spent 20 months and 16 days behind prison walls, sat down with the Wall Street Journal for his first wide-ranging interview since being released Monday.
"There is nothing pleasant about prison," he told the newspaper. "There's so much I can tell you and [at the same time] no one thing I can put my finger on. There's an emotional toll and there were definitely some guys I was around who'd done things that made me say, 'Really, seriously, I am here?'
Indeed he was. Now Burress wants his life back, his football playing career included. There are sure to be lots of interested teams once the NFL lockout ends, but in the meantime Burress is making his case to play in the NFL when the labor dispute ends.
"I know what I'm capable of," Burress said. "All I need to say to teams is, 'Don't judge my future by my past.' Just let me come out and play football."
Believe it or not, Burress believes he became a better receiver while serving time at the Oneida Correctional Facility in upstate New York. He worked out regularly with inmates serving as his quarterback.
"There weren't a lot of guys throwing perfect spirals in there," Burress quipped. "I had to work to catch those balls."
But now he hopes to go from prison yard back to packed stadiums. Burress spent his Sundays and Monday nights watching his former colleagues perform while he was in confinement. That obviously weighed on him.
"It definitely makes you hungrier,” Burress said. “You watch your friends have success and you want to recommit yourself and accomplish things again.”