Giants may be better without Mr. Smith

Posted: Thursday, December 04, 2008

Harris Smith?

Come on, Plax. I think I went to school with a dozen kids by that name.

The New York Giants star wide receiver could have done a lot better than that feeble attempt to remain incognito when he stumbled into a New York City hospital early Saturday morning seeking treatment for a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his thigh.

He may not be as recognizable as say, Terrell Owens, but don't forget, Plaxico Burress did haul in the game-winning touchdown in the Giants 17-14 win over the previously unstoppable New England Patriots in February's Super Bowl.

The guy was a hero, a legend in the making, who signed a five-year, $35 million contract extension this past offseason and has 35 receptions for 454 yards and four TDs during the Giants current 11-1 campaign.

Then for some bizarre and unknown reason, he ventured into a NYC nightclub on Friday night, two days before a major showdown with the Washington Redskins, a game he was sidelined for due to injury anyway, and somehow ended up shooting himself in the leg.

We all want to know how? But what I yearn to understand more is how this alibi evolved?

A lanky, 6-foot-5, 235-pound guy comes sauntering into the New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center's ER saying he was this "Harris Smith" character and needs treatment for a gunshot wound.

Hospital workers, reportedly, weren't fooled.

Why? It could have been his clever alias. His cover was probably blown, however, when he said he was shot at an Applebee's Restaurant.

He must have been caught in the crossfire of an angry customer seeking revenge for his well-done steak.

In light of these revelations, predominantly because of the two charges of criminal possession of a weapon against him, Burress has been suspended by the Giants for the remainder of the regular season and was also placed on the reserve non-football injury list for conduct detrimental to the team, meaning he won't return the playoffs, either.

And to think, perhaps this all could have been averted had Burress come up with a more creative alias.

Ron Mexico, anyone?

When Michael Vick was being sued for intentionally transmitting an STD to a woman in 2003, the lawsuit stated that when the former quarterback-turned-prisoner sought treatment for the disease, he signed in under the aforementioned alias.

At least he didn't use the most common last name in American history.

I wonder if "Mexico" and "Smith" will be sharing bunk beds should the latter receive even a sliver of the 3 1/2 to 15-year prison sentence he's facing if convicted.

The most peculiar, and at the same time, intriguing, detail is why Dr. Josyann Abisaab arrived at the hospital at 2 a.m. to treat Burress and why she and other hospital employees failed to report the shooting, as required by law.

A Giants fan?

If so, she should have called the cops. Everyone would have been better off.

Abisaab wouldn't have been suspended and Burress still would have.

How is that better?

Sure, New York won the Super Bowl last year when Burress had one of the most productive seasons of his nine-year career, reeling in 12 touchdowns and 1,025 yards on 70 catches.

This year's been a different story, though, as he had his best performance in the opening week of the season, the only game he's topped 100 yards in, and has missed a pair with injuries, including last Sunday's win.

The Giants certainly haven't been defending their championship with an 11-1 start to the season because of Burress. He's obviously helped, but their dominating play is more a tribute to Eli Manning's deft decision-making, the running game's balanced and potent attack and a defense stronger than any in recent memory.

This week's home game against the 7 1/2-point underdog Philadelphia Eagles won't be any different.

Besides, New York is accustomed to improving following a major loss and there's little doubt it will again.

Three-time Pro Bowl running back Tiki Barber retired following the 2006 season and Brandon Jacobs and the Giants won the title a year later.

Tight end Jeremy Shockey, a four-time Pro Bowler, caught nine balls over a span of four games last year before his season was cut short due to injury. He missed the final two regular-season contests, the three road playoff wins and yes, the Super Bowl.

Last year Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora, one of the most-feared pass rushing duos in NFL history, combined for 22 sacks in anchoring New York's solid defense.

Despite Strahan's retirement and Umenyiora being lost for the year after suffering a preseason injury, the Giants' defense is now even better.

New Yorker's are waiting with bated breath to see how Tom Coughlin's group overcomes adversity once again and performs against the Eagles in Week 1 PP -- Post Plax.

Or should I say, PH -- Post Harris.

GIANTS, 27-21.


Oakland (plus 9 1/2) at San Diego

Both teams are tied at 4-9 of Oakland wins. A big "if."

CHARGERS, 42-13.


Jacksonville (plus 6 1/2) at Chicago

Bears have lost three of four. Jaguars five of their last six. BEARS, 24-17.

Minnesota (off) at Detroit

"Off" is for the uncertain status of suspended Minnesota defensive linemen Kevin and Pat Williams. It should be "off" to prevent people from losing more money on the Lions. VIKINGS, 31-18.

Houston (plus 6) at Green Bay

Green Bay is the better 5-7 team. PACKERS, 35-21.

Cincinnati (plus 13 1/2) at Indianapolis

I'm done with Cincy.

COLTS, 38-20.

Cleveland (plus 13 1/2) at Tennessee

Same with Cleveland.

TITANS, 38-20.

Atlanta (plus 3) at New Orleans

Saints are all but eliminated from the postseason with another loss. SAINTS, 28-27.

Miami (plus 1) vs. Buffalo at Toronto

Can it snow inside a dome?

DOLPHINS, 17-14.

Kansas City (plus 9) at Denver

Denver is the most unpredictable team in the league. The Chiefs aren't. BRONCOS, 35-17.

N.Y. Jets (minus 3 1/2) at San Francisco

Favre could have another six-TD afternoon. JETS, 45-20.

St. Louis (plus 14) at Arizona

'Zona won by 21 in St. Louis. CARDINALS, 42-20.

Dallas (plus 3) at Pittsburgh

Tony Romo isn't Matt Cassel. COWBOYS, 24-21.

New England (minus 5) at Seattle

Seattle shows why NBC chose to downgrade this game from primetime to the afternoon. PATRIOTS, 31-10.

Washington (plus 5) at Baltimore

More worthy of the nightcap. REDSKINS, 21-18


Tampa Bay (plus 3) at Carolina

Two of the most underrated division leaders ever, Panthers are 6-0 at home and the Bucs are 3-3 on the road. PANTHERS, 28-24.

LAST WEEK: 6-9 (spread); 7-9 (straight up)

SEASON: 87-96-5 (spread); 104-87 (straight up)

Comments and criticisms may be sent to Clarion sports reporter Matthew Carroll at

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