Bizarrely, Burress made the Giants the very first call on his tour of teams seeking a dent-sale wide receiver. The visit went pleasantly, all agree, and every notable Giant stepped out of team meetings to shake his hand but one: Manning. No one was terribly shocked, then, when Burress decided a day later to sign on the cheap with the Jets. All things considered – his age and ankle problems, the enormously checkered history off the field – he was going to have to take a make-good deal, a one-year term for short money. "We did a rental with Santonio Holmes, and now he's a captain, and I hope the same happens with Plax," says Jets coach Rex Ryan. "He's the prototype X" – i.e., prime receiver – "who'll be a huge target in our red-zone offense, which wasn't what it could've been last year." Asked if Burress's past had given him pause, Ryan scoffs. "I've been given second chances. If not, I wouldn't be here. Everyone's made mistakes in their life, and we've welcomed him with open arms."
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The Jets aren't the only ones. Wherever Burress goes now, people stop him on the street to offer hugs and wishes, and the letters he gets, once chock-full of rage, gush in sympathy. "They went from, 'How could you do that to yourself?' to 'How could they do you like that?'" he says, laughing. "It's like I'm more popular now for shooting myself than winning a Super Bowl!" Asked why that might be so, he grunts, reflecting. "Maybe they see a guy who made a mistake but didn't hurt no one but himself. I mean, if you can't root for me, you must not own a mirror. All of us have made a big mistake, right?"
And with that Burress stands and stretches, fixes his body mic, and goes upstairs to film a reality show.