Union to File Grievance in Burress Case
The NFL Players Association will file a grievance on behalf of suspended New York Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress, claiming the team's punishment of him after he suffered a leg wound in an accidental shooting early Saturday violates his rights under the sport's collective bargaining agreement.
The union has issued a written statement that says: "The NFLPA is still reviewing the actions taken by the New York Giants relating to Plaxico Burress but we intend to file a grievance challenging those actions as we believe that Burress' rights have been violated under the CBA."
The grievance will not affect Burress's immediate playing status. One union official said it will take several months for the case to be resolved, so the grievance will not make Burress eligible to play for the Giants again this season.
It's not immediately clear what the basis for the union's grievance will be. Under the sport's grievance process, the NFL will represent the Giants in the case and, barring a settlement prior to a hearing, the two sides' arguments will be heard by an arbitrator.
On Tuesday, the Giants announced that they were fining Burress, suspending him for four games for conduct detrimental to the team and placing him on the non-football injury list, making him ineligible to play for the club again this season or postseason.
The four-game suspension, assuming it's without pay, will cost Burress $823,529 of his $3.5 million salary for this season.
The Giants acted on the day after Burress turned himself in to police and made a court appearance Monday on charges of criminal possession of a weapon. He faces a possible jail term of 3-1/2 to 15 years. He is free after posting $100,000 bail and he is scheduled to make another court appearance March 31.
Burress, 31, reportedly shot himself in the leg accidentally after taking a gun with him to a New York nightclub. Burress reportedly was not properly licensed to carry a gun in New York.
The Giants indicated they had Burress examined by one of their team physicians Tuesday and the doctor determined that the wide receiver would need 4-6 weeks to heal sufficiently from his gunshot wound to play football again.
The placement of Burress on the non-football injury list potentially paved the way for the Giants to possibly attempt to force him to return a portion of the bonus money in his five-year, $35 million contract completed just before this season's opening game. The Giants would have to prove that Burress violated his contract if they pursue such an action against him.
The sport's labor deal allows a franchise to suspend a player for up to four games without pay for conduct detrimental to the team. But it also requires teams to justify such actions, and gives the union the right to file a grievance on behalf of any punished player. When the Giants suspended Burress for two weeks (but, thanks to a bye week, only one game) earlier this season after he missed a team meeting, the union intervened and managed to negotiate a settlement that cut the amount of Burress's lost pay in half, from two weeks of lost pay to one week.
It's possible that Burress also could face disciplinary action by the NFL under the league's personal conduct policy. The league's gun policy warns players that carrying an unlicensed firearm makes them subject to possible disciplinary action by the NFL.
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