It’s not even Thanksgiving yet and already there seems to be a fair amount of turkey hash going around.
Jets wide receiver Plaxico Burress was scrutinized by the New York media on Tuesday afternoon after missing two days of practice with a prior obligation. On Monday, head coach Rex Ryan announced that Burress was excused for personal reasons, an absence that he said was approved “months ago.”
Later on Monday afternoon, a Jets media relations spokesman confirmed to Metro that Burress was in Virginia Beach, Va. handing out turkeys to families in need as an extension of his charitable foundation.
Because this is his first Thanksgiving since completing a two-year prison sentence, it was especially moving for Burress.
“To do it for the first time in two years, it’s always been a special day for me. I grew up in the area, grew up in the community and know what it’s like not to have a real Thanksgiving,” Burress said.
The Jets have a different practice schedule this week than usual. Typically, Tuesday is their off day, but because of the Thanksgiving holiday and the fact that they played mid-week in Denver, the Jets practiced on Tuesday and will be off this Thursday. Ryan confirmed that he changed the practice schedule this week, meaning that Burress would miss two days of practice and not just one as in a typical week.
Ryan said that having played the Bills a month ago, the Jets are “familiar with this opponent and “this is not going to hurt him; it’s not going to set him back.”
“When you sign up for these events, you usually try to make it happen on a Monday, Tuesday and it was a strange thing that we played on a Thursday and the event fell on a Monday, a Tuesday — and Tuesday is usually a day off in the league,” Burress said. “It just happened that our schedule wasn’t according. I just thank him, Rex, [general manager] Mike Tannenbaum, for letting me fulfill my obligations, my commitments.”
Burress came back up to New Jersey on Monday after giving out the turkeys then had an event Tuesday morning in Harlem to honor Central Park East Middle School students. He was at the team’s facility in the afternoon — after the team came off the field — even though he wasn’t expected to rejoin his teammates until Wednesday. He said he watched film and got the game plan for the week.
“I came back in last night. I wasn’t supposed to come back until today,” Burress said. “I wasn’t able to make it, got here as fast as I could and catch up as much as I can for the rest of the week.”
The Jets wide receiver said he thinks that, especially given the two years he spent in prison unable to do charitable events through his foundation, his teammates understand him missing two days of practice for an outreach such as this. Burress doesn’t anticipate his two days away from the team hurting his preparation against the Bills.
“We just played the Buffalo Bills a few weeks ago,” Burress said. “I don’t think they’ve changed that much the past couple weeks.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.