Burress: 'Thank you' for single coverage in SB XLII

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Burress: 'Thank you' for single coverage in SB XLII

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com Celtics Insider
Follow @sherrodbcsn

FOXBORO Even with all the off-the-field drama that has consumed the last couple years of Plaxico Burress' life, he'll always be remembered around here for the catch.

Yeah, that catch, the one that catapulted the New York Giants to an improbable 17-14 Super Bowl XLII win over a New England Patriots that, prior to that loss, was arguably the greatest team in NFL history.

The Pats went into the Super Bowl undefeated, in search of joining the 1972 Miami Dolphins as the only NFL teams to ever have a perfect season.

But Burress and the Giants had other plans.

It's been three-plus years since that game, but Burress, now with the New York Jets, remembers it vividly.

"It was a play that, we had run the same play twice," he recalled on Wednesday. "Eli Manning told me before I broke the huddle that if they gave me single coverage, he was going to throw it."

Uh, OK.

Fat chance of that happening, thought Burress.

"There's no way they're going to single-cover me at this time in the game," Burress thought to himself.

But they did. And the 6-foot-5 wideout made the Patriots dearly.

Burress attributes his success on the game-winning Super Bowl catch to watching video and breaking down the tendencies of Patriots cornerback Ellis Hobbs.

He noticed that inside the 10-yard line, Hobbs liked to stop his feet around the goal line.

"I just went up, made a move, never broke stride, just kept running," Burress said. "I had watched so much film on him that if I had a chance to run that route, I knew exactly how and when to run it.

Burress added, "He did exactly what it showed on tape. I knew when we lined up that I had a great shot to make the game-winning catch."

At that point, Burress' life could not have been any better. He had money - lots of it. He had the fame that comes with awakening the city that never sleeps, to what Super Bowl supremacy feels like.

But all that success and the adulation that came with it, ended on one eventful night in November of 2008. While hanging out at a Manhattan nightclub, Burress had a gun tucked into his sweatpants. The gun slipped from his waistband, and a shot was fired which hit him in the thigh.

Even though Burress was the only one hurt, he was still looking at potential jail time due to New York State's stringent gun laws.

He was eventually indicted on two counts of criminal possession of a weapon and one count of reckless endangerment, charges that had a minimum 3 12 years of jail time if convicted.

Burress eventually reached a plea deal on lesser gun charges, but was still sentenced to two years in jail. He was released early for good behavior, in June.

Burress acknowledged that while in jail, he did reminisce at times about his game-winning catch in Super Bowl XLII.

"Coming into this business, it's something that you dream of; just being able to play in a Super Bowl but to win it in the fashion that I did," Burress said. "It's a part of who I am, playing in that Super Bowl, making that catch in the fashion that we did, driving down the field in two minutes. Making that play on that stage . . . It's a part of me, it's a part of history.

"To me, it was the greatest Super Bowl ever played. It was a moment that every kid dreams of having. To be able to go out and execute it and do it in the fashion that we did against the team that we were playing against, it says a lot."

And even now, Burress remains mystified at why the Patriots left him one-on-one with Hobbs, who being eight inches shorter than Burress, had no shot when Manning lobbed the pass into the corner of the end zone with less than a minute to play.

"They had single covered me maybe a handful of times that whole game," Burress said. "For them to give me that coverage with that on the line, I didn't think they would, but thank you."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at sblakely@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

It's official: Patriots nab third-round compensatory pick in Collins trade

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It's official: Patriots nab third-round compensatory pick in Collins trade

The Patriots received a conditional fourth-round pick in 2018 from the Browns in return for Jamie Collins. That's how the trade was described on the league's transaction wire. 

The "condition" of that fourth-rounder? Well, if the Browns received a third-round compensatory pick in 2017, the Patriots would nab that pick instead. 

On Friday, the NFL announced that the Browns had in fact been awarded a third-round compensatory pick, which meant that almost three full weeks after Super Bowl LI, everything was still coming up Patriots.

In actuality, the odds were pretty good all along that the Patriots would get what they got

Cleveland lost Pro Bowl center Alex Mack in free agency last offseason when he opted to sign with the Falcons. Because compensatory picks are based on free agents lost and free agents acquired, and because the Browns did not sign any similarly-impactful free agents, there was a good chance Mack's departure would render a third-round comp pick that would be shipped to New England.

Had Mack suffered a significant injury that forced his play to drop off or limited his time on the field, a third-rounder may have been out of the question, but he played well (named a Pro Bowler and a Second Team All-Pro) and stayed healthy -- lucky for the Patriots -- missing just 17 total snaps in the regular season. 

The Browns comp pick that will be sent to New England is No. 103 overall. The Patriots were also awarded a fifth-round comp pick, No. 185 overall. That was a result of the league weighing the departures of Akiem Hicks and Tavon Wilson against the arrival of Shea McClellin.

The Patriots now have nine selections in this year's draft: One first-rounder; one second-rounder; two third-rounders; one fourth-rounder*; two fifth-rounders; two seventh-rounders.

The third-round compensatory pick acquired by the Patriots carries additional value this year in that it is the first year in which compensatory picks can be traded. A near top-100 overall selection may allow the Patriots to move up the draft board or build assets in the middle rounds should they be inclined to deal. And we know they oftentimes are. 

* The Patriots forfeited their highest fourth-round selection in this year's draft as part of their Deflategate punishment. They acquired a fourth-round pick from the Seahawks last year. Because that would have been the higher of their two selections, that's the one they'll lose. They will make their own fourth-round pick at No. 137 overall.

Gronkowski says he has 'no doubt' he'll be ready for start of next season

Gronkowski says he has 'no doubt' he'll be ready for start of next season

When it comes to projecting Rob Gronkowski's health, it's been best to steer clear of absolutes. There have been too many injuries, too many surgeries, to predict exactly how he'll feel months in advance. 

Still, in speaking with ESPN's Cari Champion recently, he said he had "no doubt" he'll be ready for Week 1 of the 2017 regular season. 

"Yes, for sure," he replied when asked if he expected to be good to go. 

Gronkowski also fielded a question about his long-term future in the sit-down. Lately it's been his coach Bill Belichick and his quarterback Tom  Brady who receiver all the life-after-football queries, but Gronkowski, 27, was asked how much longer he'd like to play. 

"I’m not really sure," he said. "I mean, I still love playing the game, and as of right now, I want to play as long as I possibly could play. My mindset is to keep on going."

Gronkowski landed on season-ending injured reserve in December after undergoing a procedure on his back -- his third back surgery since 2009. He's had nine reported surgeries -- including procedures on his knee, forearm and ankle -- since his final year at the University of Arizona.