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Plaxico Burress Opens Up About Prison Life

TOTOWA, N.J. -- The food was awful and the weight room was not much beyond serviceable, but after 20 months and 16 days in prison, Plaxico Burress said he definitely came out a better pass-catcher, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

"There weren't a lot of guys throwing perfect spirals in there," the one-time Giants receiver said with his characteristically quiet chuckle. "I had to work to catch those balls."

In his first interview since his Monday release from the Oneida Correctional Facility, Burress would not say which NFL teams he would like to play for or where he would match up well.

But, as he returned home this weekend to the family's Totowa, N.J., home, he insisted he was hungrier than ever and ready to play in any kind of scheme. In fact, he sounded more daunted by taming his fiery 18-month-old daughter than he did about getting back in football shape.

"She's just running the household," he said, laughing. "None of us has a choice."

Burress last played an NFL game on Nov. 23, 2008, five days before he accidentally shot himself in a New York City nightclub. He recovered from the wound in two weeks, but because the gun was unlicensed in New York, he ultimately pleaded guilty to a weapons charge. He is free now, two months shy of his 34th birthday, and with the NFL still in the midst of a lockout, he has some time to prove he still has game.

"I know what I'm capable of. All I need to say to teams is 'don't judge my future by my past'," he said. "Just let me come out and play football."

The six-foot-five receiver, once a game-breaker because of his exquisite body control and exceptional hands, has prompted speculation in nearly every NFL market this week.

Neither he nor his agent is allowed to speak to teams during the lockout, although quarterback Michael Vick, an old friend from Virginia who has counseled him throughout his imprisonment, has very vocally lobbied for him to join the Philadelphia Eagles. "Just give me a playbook and I'll learn it," Burress said.

As for the Giants, defensive end Justin Tuck and center Shaun O'Hara -- both of whom have served as captains -- said they would like him back in blue. Running back Brandon Jacobs, a good friend, regularly sported "Free Plaxico" shirts during the receiver's imprisonment.

"You never know what may happen," Burress said. "I love New York. My fan base has always supported me there, and I've had teammates there who I've shared special moments with outside of football."

Burress said Giants co-owner Steve Tisch visited him in prison, as did Tisch's right-hand man, Sammy Arthur. He said former teammates Osi Umenyiora, Michael Strahan, Amani Toomer and David Tyree all made the trip, too, something he called "a very humbling experience."

Burress said he watched football Sunday and Monday nights, though it was whatever games the general inmate population was tuned to. His takeaway from that, he said, is that "it definitely makes you hungrier. You watch your friends have success and you want to recommit yourself and accomplish things again.

"There is nothing pleasant about prison," he added. "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?'"