Pierce will talk today about shooting incident
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. ” Watching Antonio Pierce in the New York Giants linebacker meeting on Wednesday morning, fellow linebacker Danny Clark didn’t sense anything was wrong.
Pierce reviewed mistakes the Giants’ defense made against Washington, discussed the Eagles’ offense and analyzed the defensive situations the Super Bowl champions will face against Philadelphia on Sunday when they try to clinch the NFC East title.
But it was no normal Wednesday.
A day after the season-ending suspension of star receiver Plaxico Burress, the Giants coach Tom Coughlin said he expects Pierce to play Sunday while police investigate the linebacker’s involvement in a shooting that left Burress with a self-inflicted wound.
Pierce smiled but declined to speak to The Associated Press when he reported to Giants Stadium about 8 a.m. Wednesday. After practice, he said he would speak Thursday.
“He came in, and there were no distractions. And we didn’t talk about anything but football,” Clark said. “That’s why we like him. Everybody is supportive of him and Plax. At the end of the day we’re game planning and getting back into the rhythm of what we usually do.”
Unlike Burress, who’s charged with illegal weapons possession, Pierce has yet to be charged ” or talk to police.
Pierce’s attorney Michael Bachner said they’re working out details about when that will happen. Bachner said he did speak to prosecutors in the Manhattan District Attorney’s office immediately after being retained.
Coughlin said there’s no need to consider potential punishment of Pierce right now.
“There is no doubt we’ll do the right thing,” Coughlin added, “and that’s no threat to the players, they know that.”
Authorities are trying to determine whether Pierce tried to cover up the shooting early Saturday morning in a Manhattan nightclub. Police said Pierce drove Burress to the hospital and returned to New Jersey with Burress’ gun in the glove compartment of his black Cadillac Escalade. Investigators have impounded the SUV to search it for any blood or gun residue.
Halfback Ahmad Bradshaw also was at the Latin Quarter nightclub, but his attorney said Bradshaw was in a different part of the facility at the time of the shooting.
With the Giants (11-1) on the verge of clinching the NFC East and gaining a first-round playoff bye, teammates rallied behind Pierce.
“I don’t really think he did anything wrong,” veteran halfback Reuben Droughns said. “I wasn’t there, but I don’t think he was trying to hide anything. I think for the most part he was just being a teammate; he was more concerned about what was going on with a teammate than anything else.”
The team fined and suspended Burress for four games, the rest of the regular season, on Tuesday. The Giants also placed him on the reserve non-football injury list, which means he won’t be back for the playoffs, either.
“I had a conversation with Plaxico. He was very humble. He was remorseful,” Coughlin said. “Obviously that doesn’t change anything. But you have to understand that he is part of our team and our concern is with he and his family’s well being, and the ability of him to get through this circumstance and be healthy again.”
The NFL Players Association said in a statement that it was reviewing the Giants’ actions and planned to file a grievance, saying Burress’ collective bargaining rights were violated.
But many Giants players were eager to move on Wednesday.
“I’m going to be honest with you, as far as the locker room is concerned it is already a dead issue,” defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka said.
Police feel differently. They still want to interview the people at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center who treated Burress and did not report the shooting, as required by law.
Dr. Josyann Abisaab was suspended for not reporting Burress injury. She apparently arrived at the hospital at 2 a.m. to treat him, but it’s not clear why she was called.
Abisaab, who’s affiliated with the hospital and specializes in internal and emergency medicine, could not be reached for comment. She graduated from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and has no history of state disciplinary action.
Giants spokesman Pat Hanlon said the team has no tie-in with Abisaab.
“We have no relationship with her. … We do not know her,” Hanlon said.
Associated Press Writer Colleen Long in New York contributed to this report.