Burress rips Eli, Coughlin in interview

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Burress rips Eli, Coughlin in interview

From Comcast SportsNet Friday, September 9, 2011

NEW YORK (AP) -- Plaxico Burress is critical of Giants coach Tom Coughlin, quarterback Eli Manning and fans for the way they reacted when he was sent to prison on a gun charge in the October issue of Men's Journal.

Burress said in an interview with the magazine a few weeks before he signed with the Jets in July that he wished Coughlin had shown some concern when he met with him after accidentally shooting himself in the leg in November 2008. He saw the Giants coach on television commenting on the situation "and the first words out his mouth was sad and disappointing.'"

"I'm like, forget support -- how about some concern?" Burress said. "I did just have a bullet in my leg. And then I sat in his office, and he pushed back his chair and goes, I'm glad you didn't kill anybody!' Man, we're paid too much to be treated like kids. He doesn't realize that we're grown men and actually have kids of our own."

He also told the magazine, which hits newsstands next week, that Coughlin is "not a real positive coach."

"You look around the league, the Raheem Morrises and Rex Ryans -- when their player makes a mistake, they take em to the side and say, We'll get em next time,'" Burress said. "But Coughlin's on the sideline going crazy, man. I can't remember one time when he tried to talk a player through not having a day he was having."

Burress said he was disappointed Manning never visited him or tried to communicate with him while he served his 20-month prison sentence.

"I was always his biggest supporter, even days he wasn't on, cause I could sense he didn't have thick skin," Burress said. "Then I went away, and I thought he would come see me, but nothing, not a letter, in two years. I don't want to say it was a slap in the face, but I thought our relationship was better than that."

Burress met with Coughlin and the Giants' front office when he was a free agent -- after the interview with the magazine -- and has maintained it was a pleasant conversation that helped clear the air between them. While the wide receiver didn't speak with Manning at that time, the two recently ran into each other at a movie theater and had what Burress said was a nice chat.

When asked about his comments in the magazine article, Burress said: "I was just being honest."

The article mentions how Burress was nearly robbed at his home in Totowa, N.J., a few days before the nightclub incident and how the murder of his friend and former Washington defensive back Sean Taylor helped shape his decision to carry a handgun -- and how he nearly left his gun in his car that night.

"I had a conscience about it -- but said, Nope, I'm takin' it with me,'" he said. "And that changed my life."

Burress talked about the way New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg treated him -- calling for the receiver to be punished to the fullest extent of the law -- "was totally wrong, stacked those charges so high, I had to go to jail."

While in prison, Burress said he was treated "like a ... axe murderer," and got many letters from people that were less than positive.

"I was a human pincushion," Burress said. "They were like, Yeah, we finally got you.'"

Burress said he now gets loads of positive letters from people, a complete change from what he was getting just a few months ago.

"It's like I'm more popular now for shooting myself than winning a Super Bowl!" he said. "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?"

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Bears DL Akiem Hicks making the most of a chance the Saints never gave him

Bears DL Akiem Hicks making the most of a chance the Saints never gave him

Living well is indeed the best revenge, and sometimes nothing feels sweeter than proving doubters wrong. Akiem Hicks is savoring that exact feeling.

When the New Orleans Saints made Hicks their third-round pick in the 2013 draft, they typecast their big (6-5, 318 pounds) young defensive lineman as a one-trick pony.

“There were people in New Orleans that said, ‘You can’t rush the passer,’” Hicks recalled after the Bears’ win Sunday over the San Francisco 49ers. “They told me from my rookie year, ‘You’re going to be a run-stopper.’”

This despite Hicks collecting 6.5 sacks and 3 pass breakups as a senior at Regina in Canada. The Saints forced Hicks into the slot they’d decided he fit – nose tackle – then eventually grew disenchanted with him and traded him to New England last year – where he collect 3 sacks in spot duty.

Interestingly, Bears GM Ryan Pace was part of the Saints’ personnel operation. Whether Pace agreed with coaches’ handling of Hicks then isn’t known, but when Pace had the chance to bring Hicks to Chicago for a role different than the one the Saints forced Hicks into, Pace made it happen.

Pace likely saw those New England sacks as a foreshadowing or a sign that the New Orleans staff had miscast Hicks. The Bears defensive end now is under consideration for NFC defensive player of the week after his 10-tackle performance against San Francisco. Signing with the Bears last March 13 as a free agent was the career break Hicks has craved. For him it was a career lifeline.

“They have given me the ability to go rush the passer,” Hicks said. “So I love this organization – [GM] Ryan Pace, coach Fox, Vic [Fangio, defensive coordinator] – for just giving a guy the capability to put it out there and do what you feel like you can do.”

[MORE BEARS: Back from scary concussion, Leonard Floyd playing like franchise pass rusher Bears craved]

Hicks has been showing what he can do, to quarterbacks. For him the best part of win over the 49ers was the two third-quarter sacks of 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

Those sacks gave the massive lineman, who the Saints said couldn’t rush the passer, 6 sacks for the season – more than any member of the Saints defense this season. It has been a classic instance of putting a player in position to maximize his skills, not jam someone into a bad fit.

“Akiem has been in a couple of different types of packages before with New Orleans and New England,” said coach John Fox. The Patriots switched from a long-time 3-4 scheme to a 4-3 but “we’re more of a New England-type style. But we’re playing him more at end; he played mostly a nose tackle [in New Orleans]. He’s fit really well for us as far as his physical stature.

"But he does have pass rush ability. It shows a little about his athleticism. So he’s got a combination of both.”

That “combination” has been allowed to flourish at a new level, and the Bears’ plan for Hicks was the foundation of why he wanted to sign in Chicago as a free agent. The Bears do not play their defensive linemen in a clear one-gap, get-upfield-fast scheme tailored to speed players. Nor do they play a classic two-gap, linemen-control-blockers scheme typically built on three massive space-eaters on the defensive line.

They play what one player has called a “gap and a half” system, which requires being stout as well as nimble.

One Hicks rush on Kaepernick featured a deft spin move out of a block, not the norm for 336-pound linemen. He got one sack with a quick slide out of a double-team.

“I’m not freelancing,” Hicks said. “But I’m rushing ‘fast.’ There’s a portion of the defense where you have the [run] responsibility and don’t have the freedom or liberty [to rush]. It’s a great system for me and I love what they’ve let me do.”