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A hell of a ride

Ernie Palladino
August
26

Well, I guess you can tell this hasn’t been much of a blog for a while. In a few days or weeks, as is my understanding, it likely will cease to exist all together. The paper is changing its philosophy and, apparently, neither the Giants nor I fit into it.

Today is my last day at The Journal News. They’re laying off a whole bunch of us, and I’m headed for Chapter 2 of my life after 33 years here. It’s a bit sad, but I’m actually excited to see what the next step brings. And I’ll leave here not with bitterness, but with some good feelings about the people who took the time to read and write their feelings in this blog and read my newspaper articles through the decades.

You know, there’s a saying that goes “It’s not about the destination. It’s about the ride.” Well, now I see the truth in it. Nobody who works in the newspapers ever wants to get to this place. But economics and other factors have led us there. All that remains are the memories. And for me, after 20 years on the Giants, I have plenty of great ones—of the people, the players, the stories. Hey, my last game—before illness cost me the 2008 season—was the greatest Super Bowl ever played. Hard to top that.

But others came close, and they weren’t all with the Giants. Rodney and Scooter McCray and the rest of the 1977-78 Mount Vernon basketball team, the greatest of a golden era of Westchester hoops; Pleasantville-Dobbs Ferry Class C sectional football in the snow; the late Rodney Abrams of Woodlands High crying his eyes out under the County Center stands after a sectional upset; Doc Gooden’s no-hitter—ON DEADLINE, for God’s sake!

Lawrence Taylor chasing quarterbacks and, yeah, putting his hand around my throat. Not my proudest moment, but a moment nonetheless.

One flashback in particular sticks with me today. It was some time in the late ‘70s, and Ardsley had just won the State Class C baseball championship. The team had flooded the field, hugging, rubbing heads, slapping butts. But there in the dugout sat the winning pitcher, all alone, tears running down the little junkballer’s face. For the life of me, I can’t remember his name.

I asked him what was the matter.

“I don’t want to take it off,” he said. “The uniform. I’m not going to play in college, so this is it. This is the end for me. And I don’t want to take it off.”

Now I know the feeling. I don’t want to take this one off, either. But that’s life. Things end, other things begin. And something tells me I’m going to be around for a while longer, just doing something different for someone else. We’ll see.

In the meantime, I have the memories. Thirty-three years of doing what I loved, 20 years of covering a team I loved covering every moment, even during the bad ones. Loads of colleagues, who I’d prefer to call friends.

Hell of a ride, I’d say.

Thanks, guys.

EP

Posted by Ernie Palladino on Wednesday, August 26th, 2009 at 11:48 am |
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NFL on Plax

Jane McManus
August
20

Since Ernie is on vacation and a little, tiny piece of news broke, I thought I’d just pop this up on the blog. Former Giants receiver Plaxico Burress pleaded guilty today to weapons charges and serve two years in prison. The NFL released an official statement on Burress, and here it is:

PLAXICO BURRESS is not under contract to an NFL team. In light of his plea today, Commissioner ROGER GOODELL has suspended Burress and informed him that he is ineligible to sign with any team until he completes his jail term. Commissioner Goodell said Burress will be reinstated and eligible to sign with an NFL team upon the completion of his sentence. Burress was notified on June 26 that Commissioner Goodell had initiated a review of the matter for potential discipline under the NFL’s Personal Conduct and Weapons policies. Commissioner Goodell and members of his staff conducted a hearing with Burress and his representatives last Wednesday (August 12) in New York.

Posted by Jane McManus on Thursday, August 20th, 2009 at 3:04 pm |
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Off Day

Ernie Palladino
August
11

Giants are spending the day in meetings. But here’s a thought. Hakeem Nicks was on the sideline yesterday nursing a hamstring thing, and Eli Manning can’t wait to have him back. Think the first-rounder might be headed for extensive playing time this year?

If so, he’ll need all the reps possible to overtake guys like Domenik Hixon and Mario Manningham, who I’m reading is having a heck of a camp catching the ball, not so much in the mental area, though. Some big mistakes. Haven’t heard a lot from Sinorice Moss since the opening practices, but he’s still a guy that bears watching. And Derek Hagan is having a great camp.

Also, what’s the odds that Fred Robbins ends up on the IR. He’s participating in some individual drills, but nothing extensive right now. My bet is he doesn’t make it all the way back for camp. What’s yours?

EP

Posted by Ernie Palladino on Tuesday, August 11th, 2009 at 12:03 pm |
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Tough for Tyree

Ernie Palladino
August
10

My guy Ralph V. is reporting from Albany that Super Bowl hero David Tyree, trying to come back from knee reconstruction, is having a rough time of it. He dropped three passes this morning, and showed his frustration by slamming his helmet to the ground and kicking it.

Tyree had missed time with a groin problem, opening the way for Derek Hagan to have a strong camp so far. Have to wonder now if Tyree is going to make this team. He’s a bit expensive to keep around just as a special teams guy. If he can’t make some inroads at WR, and quickly, this could be the end of the road for him.

Opinions?

EP

Posted by Ernie Palladino on Monday, August 10th, 2009 at 2:12 pm |
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Eli’s extension

Ernie Palladino
August
5

Guess Eli Manning will be picking up the check a lot from now on, given that he’s agreed to terms on a six-year extension worth approximately $97 million. That makes him the richest player in the NFL, a mark that will probably be surpassed by someone on some other team (Tom Brady? Peyton Manning?) in the near future.

About $35 million of that is believed to be guaranteed. But the important thing here is that Manning will be locked down through 2015, which has to be a nice feeling for the folks in charge. Better to have a franchise quarterback in the house than, oh, what the Jets have—two unproven guys, one a rookie, battling it out for the starting job.

EP

Posted by Ernie Palladino on Wednesday, August 5th, 2009 at 12:59 pm |
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Pierce says he’s learned a lesson

Ernie Palladino
August
4

My guys at camp spoke to Antonio Pierce a few minutes ago. The middle linebacker said he wasn’t sorry about his actions that led to a probe into possible criminal charges against him the night Plaxico Burress shot himself in the leg. But he did express remorse for putting himself in the situation where his livelihood and freedom could be compromised.

Pierce will not face charges, of course, thanks to the grand jury’s decision yesterday following two days of his testimony. But Burress will face two felony illegal weapons charges, plus a misdemeanor reckless endangerment charges. Here’s the transcript of his statement, with thanks to my boy Ralph for sending it along:

“I’m glad I had an opportunity to speak to the grand jury and let them hear the fact from my lips, not from nobody else, but to hear all the facts from me. I thought I acted very reasonably, responsibly and sensibly. Basically a teammate was down and that was my concern that night, to get him help.

“There’s a lot of people I obviously want to thank and I need to thank. First and foremost I’d like to thank my family for doing what they’ve always done, stand behind Antonio Pierce and knowing who he really is. Secondly my friends. And thirdly, and not lastly, the New York Giants. The whole organization. Probably one of the main reasons I came to New York was because of the organization and front office and people around here, and obviously those statements that they made several times throughout this process.

“With that being said, I am not sorry for how I acted that night, though. I’m not sorry for how I responded. I am sorry for putting myself in position that I had to respond the way I had to respond. There’s a lot of lessons I learned from this. I’ve taken them to heart. I’ve taken them seriously. There’s been a lot of ups and downs. But you know what? Ever since the New York Giants got back to Albany the sun has been out, it’s been bright, and Antonio Pierce and the New York Giants are looking forward. I’m tired of seeing myself on the TV and hearing my name on the TV. It’s time to talk about the New York Giants and the 2009 season. Anything that happened in 2008 is really irrelevant at this point. I really have nothing to say about that incident or that season because I’ve got to move forward just like our team does, and that’s what we plan on doing.”

EP

Posted by Ernie Palladino on Tuesday, August 4th, 2009 at 11:29 am |
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Offensive woes

Ernie Palladino
August
4

Sounds like Tom Coughlin is getting a little impatient with an offense that has had several big drops and interceptions over the first three practices.

WR Steve Smith, the real go-to guy in this young pack of receivers, had a couple of drops this morning to go along with some general unit-wide issues like assignments and consistency. Though it’s still early, Coughlin said time’s a-wasting.

“It’s obviously not in midseason form,” Coughlin said. “It’s early, but I’m not very patient. I’d like to see some progress. On offense it’s got to be more than good play, bad play. We can make a big play everybody remembers. But to me it’s ‘Come on back and let’s get the next play. What are we going to do now? Let’s feel good about making a big play, but let’s make another one, not turn around and go backwards.”

EP

Posted by Ernie Palladino on Tuesday, August 4th, 2009 at 11:21 am |
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The DA’s Account

Ernie Palladino
August
3

Thought you might be interested in the official release the Manhattan DA sent out.
















DISTRICT ATTORNEY – NEW YORK COUNTY


Manhattan District Attorney Robert M. Morgenthau announced today the indictment of former New York Giants receiver PLAXICO BURRESS, 31, on charges of possession of a loaded pistol and reckless endangerment in connection with an incident in which he shot himself in the leg at a Manhattan nightclub.

The defendant was indicted on two counts of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree, a class C violent felony, and one count of Reckless Endangerment in the Second Degree, a class A misdemeanor.

The Grand Jury voted no true bill against Antonio Pierce.

The investigation leading to today’s indictment revealed that in the early morning hours of November 29, 2008, the defendant shot himself in the leg with a .40 caliber Glock semi-automatic pistol inside the nightclub LQ New York, located at 511 Lexington Avenue. At the time the defendant shot himself, he was not licensed to carry or possess that pistol in either New York or New Jersey, where he had a home. His license to carry a concealed weapon in the state of Florida had expired in May of 2008. Even if that license had not expired, the states of New York and New Jersey do not recognize out-of-state concealed weapon carry licenses.

The investigation further revealed that when BURRESS, Antonio Pierce, and several companions entered the nightclub at approximately 1:30 a.m., LQ New York security discovered the pistol on BURRESS’ person. BURRESS was carrying the pistol in the waistband of his jeans, with bullets in the magazine, a round in the chamber and no holster. BURRESS was allowed to enter, and once inside, he proceeded to an upper V.I.P. area, where 20-30 employees and customers were gathered. A short while later, BURRESS accidentally shot himself in the leg. His pistol then fell out of the leg of his jeans, onto the floor. The bullet traveled through BURRESS’ leg, exited, and narrowly missed a security agent.

BURRESS, Antonio Pierce, and a third person proceeded to Pierce’s vehicle, which was parked approximately one block away. A security agent from LQ New York, who had retrieved the pistol at the defendant’s request, accompanied them to the car and placed the pistol and loaded magazine inside the glove box. BURRESS was dropped off at the emergency room of New York-Presbyterian Hospital, where he was treated, and Antonio Pierce transported the pistol and magazine back to his home in New Jersey. The following day, he arranged for it to be returned to BURRESS. The police subsequently recovered the gun and an empty magazine from BURRESS’ home.

The New York County Grand Jury heard from twenty-two witnesses, including PLAXICO BURRESS and Antonio Pierce, and considered 16 exhibits. BURRESS is charged with two counts of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree, one for possession of a loaded firearm not in his home or place of business, and one for possession of a loaded firearm with intent to use it unlawfully against another. Since the 2006 revision of New York State’s gun laws, each of the weapons possession counts carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 3 1/2 years in state prison, and a maximum sentence of 15 years in state prison. On the facts of this case, the law would require that the sentences on those two charges be imposed concurrently. The charge of Reckless Endangerment carries a maximum sentence of 1 year in jail.

Mr. Morgenthau said, “In this case, we conducted a thorough investigation and then presented the evidence to the Grand Jury, which evaluated the facts under the applicable law. The case required a more protracted investigation than does a typical weapons possession case, given the number of witnesses and the need to investigate events both before and after the shooting. The case was treated like any similar case against any other defendant. Ultimately, the Grand Jury did what it thought was fair.”

The defendant will be arraigned in State Supreme Court, Part 1. No date is scheduled for the arraignment.

Assistant District Attorney John Wolfstaetter is handing the prosecution of this case. The case was investigated by Detectives Samuel Haigler and Edward Hennessy of the 17th Precinct Detective Squad under the supervision of Commanding Officer Lieutenant Elisa Anders. Detectives James Piccione and Jeffrey Salta of the Manhattan South Homicide Squad also assisted in this investigation under the supervision of Commanding Officer Lieutenant Stephen Camardese. Detective Lieutenant Scott Titus and Detective Sergeant Dennis Blakeley of the Borough of Totowa Police Department also assisted in this investigation under the supervision of Chief of Police Robert Coyle. Assistant District Attorneys Christopher Foster and Larry Glasser also assisted in this investigation.

Defendant Information:

PLAXICO BURRESS, 08/12/1977



Posted by Ernie Palladino on Monday, August 3rd, 2009 at 6:05 pm |
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Pierce in clear

Ernie Palladino
August
3

Looks like the Giants won’t have to worry about losing their starting middle linebacker for any time at all in relation to the Plaxico Burress shooting.

The grand jury that was considering levying charges against Antonio Pierce for removing Burress’ gun from the Latin Quarter came back with a “no bill.” That means he won’t face charges.

“Antonio is gratified that the grand jury determined that the evidence did not support an indictment,” Michael Bachner, Pierce’s attorney, wrote in an e-mail. “Once the grand jurors were able to hear Antonio, see him and understand the workings of his mind on that extraordinary evening, they concluded, as they should have, that the acted as any reasonable person would have.”

Tom Coughlin, in a statement released by the Giants, was also relieved.

“As I said yesterday, we are anxious to start
the new season, nobody more than Antonio,” Coughlin said. “Today’s decision allows him
and this team to move forward and focus on our preparation for the season.”

And since he won’t be going to court, the NFL has also decided there “was no basis for suspension” under its Personal Conduct policy, according to league spokesman Greg Aiello.

It was exactly the outcome team president John Mara hoped to get when he came out strongly in Pierce’s corner as soon as he learned the Manhatttan DA’s office was pursuing charges. DA Robert Morgenthau said, in the aftermath of the grand jury testimony, that some of the roleplayers showed “first-degree bad judgement,” but that it didn’t rise to the level of criminal activitiy.

“We certainly agree with the grand jury’s decision,” Mara said. “We said last week we felt strongly that Antonio’s actions did not warrant criminal charges, and obviously the grand jury, having heard all of the testimony, felt the same way.”

Burress was not so lucky, however. The grand jury indicted him on two felony counts of weapons possession, which carry a 15-year maximum sentence, and one misdemeanor count of reckless endangerment for shooting himself in the leg while fumbling with his Glock in the early morning hours of Nov. 29. Now, he has to either surrender himself or be arrested. Obviously, he’s in a heap of trouble right now.

The Giants, who released Burress in May, they can put the shooting incident behind them.

“Antonio is a leader on this team, but he is still human, and this has been an emotionally draining experience for him,” general manager Jerry Reese said. “We know he was happy to get to training camp yesterday, and with this behind him, he can focus all his energy and efforts on football. He
took this matter very seriously.”

But let me ask you something. Was the grand jury right? Should they have let Pierce off the hook so easily? Or might they have been swayed by his celebrity status?

How did you want to see this all come out?

EP

Posted by Ernie Palladino on Monday, August 3rd, 2009 at 2:00 pm |
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Encouraging Nicks

Ernie Palladino
August
3

First-round wide receiver Hakeem Nicks had his first taste of training camp after signing his $12.5 million, five-year deal Saturday. Coach Tom Coughlin said he’ll try to encourage Nicks throughout to be able to step up and contribute big as a rookie. But first, he needs to make sure the kid can absorb the informational tonnage that will be thrown at him over the next 21 days.

“You are certainly very encouraging with the young guys,” Coughlin said. “For example, he came back in outstanding shape. So we were encouraged. We acknowledged that.

“You know, he is a kid who always has a smile on his face, which is a really good thing. He is kind of a happy guy, who has gotten himself in good condition. He wanted definitely to be here. He didn’t want to miss that first practice. As we move forward here, and camp unfolds I think on a daily basis, there will be more information shared with him about what the expectation level is. Right now, those guys are up to here trying to learn what to do. That is the first thing, let’s see if they can comprehend all the things we are asking them to do.”

EP

Posted by Ernie Palladino on Monday, August 3rd, 2009 at 11:36 am |
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About this blog
Journal News/LoHud.com beat writers share their thoughts on the Giants with the Lower Hudson fans.

Jets Journal
About the authors
Ernie PalladinoErnie Palladino became Giants beat reporter in 1989 after previously covering a wide range of sports that included Yankees, Mets, boxing, Army football, St. John’s and Iona basketball, and Islanders hockey. READ MORE
Mike DoughertyMike Dougherty Mike Dougherty has been with the Journal News since 1988, spending most of that time in high school gyms and Madison Square Garden. READ MORE

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