Do you remember where you were sixteen years ago? March 17th 2005, to be exact. I can tell you exactly where I was. My senior year in college at Millersville University, smack dab in the middle of my spring semester, tied to my laptop, scouring internet message boards for updates on the Giants pursuit of a free agent wide receiver.
Sixteen years later, I’m working from home. My wife is pregnant. My son will be here before the start of the season. My phone set to send me alerts whenever Twitter has an update about the Giants pursuit of a free agent wide receiver. The lesson, you ask? As much as life changes, it stays the same…
Eli Manning was entering his second season. He had taken over for Kurt Warner just after the midway point of his rookie campaign. Despite stumbling to a 1-6 record, he had beaten the hated Cowboys in his final game of the season and there was optimism around Peyton’s kid brother. The Giants were committed to getting him top-notch help. To paraphrase Bill Parcells, you can’t make a gourmet meal without solid ingredients.
Plaxico Burress was 6’6” A lean 232 pounds, he ran like a gazelle. He had played college ball in The Big 10 at Michigan State. Draft with the 8th overall selection by the Steelers four years earlier, it stands to reason the Giants had inside intel. After all, the Rooneys and the Maras are connected by marriage. No doubt, Burress looked the part. Many around the league believed Burress could make the leap; to bonafide, unquestioned number one wide receiver. The Giants saw the potential for a duo that would come of age together.
Still, Burress only had 22 career touchdowns across five seasons, and was coming off an injury-marred 2004 season, that saw the veteran play only eleven games.
Burress had just hired a new agent, after failing to secure a deal in the first week of free agency. Rumor had it that Plax was asking for more money than the Giants wanted to give, and refusing a physical. Enter Drew Rosenhaus. A week prior, the Giants had publicly stated they were moving on. Their offer was back on the table now. Six years, $25 million (making him one of the highest paid receivers of the day), contingent on that physical Burress had refused.
Burress arrived at The Meadowlands on a Thursday morning. Passed the physical and signed the deal. He had a good run with the Giants. Eli had his elite talent on the outside. The chemistry was immediate. The duo connected for 33 touchdowns across 4 seasons, terrorizing the NFC East along the way. Burress played the single greatest game I’ve seen a wide receiver play in sub zero temperatures at Lambeau Field in the 2007 NFC Championship.
Super Bowl XLII. “Burress… Alone, TOUCHDOWN, NEW YORK!!! 19-1
The Giants were 10-1 the following year, arguably the best team in the league, when Burress shot himself in the leg. What could have been.
Sixteen years later Giants fans anxiously await news on the signing of free agent wide receiver, Kenny Golladay. He’s 6,4” 214 pounds. Big Blue hopes he can be to Daniel Jones what Plax was to the G.O.A.T. A weapon that enables Jones to reach his potential.
He played in the Big 10 (Rutgers) and has 22 touchdowns in his four-year career. The Giants have inside info on Golladay. Joe Judge and Matt Patricia are old pals dating back to their Patriots days. Kyle O’Brien was part of the brain trust that drafted Golladay for the Lions in 2017. The Giants hired him this offseason. Due to COVID, in person visits are rare prior to signing contracts these days. The Giants want an in-person old-style visit, prior to an extending offer in hopes of easing concerns over a balky hip that cost Golladay all but five games in Detroit last year.
The Giants need Golladay, just like they needed Plaxico sixteen years ago.
The more things change, the more they stay the same…
At least I hope so.