Union hoping to avoid Burress hearing

Jason Cole
Yahoo! Sports

The NFL Players Association is in talks with the NFL regarding the two-week suspension of New York Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress, hoping to resolve the matter before going through a grievance procedure.

"We were contacted about the issue and we're trying to resolve it with NFL management council right now," NFLPA attorney Tom DePaso said. "Obviously, it's a time-sensitive issue, so we may have to file a grievance to make sure it's heard by an arbitrator, but we're going to other means of resolving it first."

DePaso said the main issue is whether the Giants "employed progressive discipline before coming to this action."

Burress, who will miss one game and $235,294.12 if the penalty stands, has been fined several times previously.

The Giants fined Burress $42,000 this offseason when he showed up but refused to practice at a mini-camp. Burress did not practice because he wanted a new contract.

Priot to that, he was fined for missing a practice in training camp to attend an ultrasound with his wife. When he played for Pittsburgh, Burress once skipped a mini-camp because it conflicted with Mother's Day weekend, a time he and his brothers spent together mourning their late mother.

Still, DePaso said there was a question about the validity of the current suspension, which would keep Burress out of the Oct. 5 game against Seattle (the Giants have a bye this week).

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello had no comment on the talks between the league and the union.

If the union and the league can't resolve the matter quickly, DePaso said the union would file a grievance that would be heard by an independent arbitrator (likely Shyam Das, a lawyer/professor in Pennsylvania who has listened to cases for both the NFL and MLB). The hearing would likely be early next week to give the arbitrator enough time to render a decision as to whether Burress could play against Seattle.

A source close to the situation said that Burress' suspension has nothing to do with two domestic incidents between him and his wife Tiffany at their home in New Jersey. In June and again in August, Tiffany Burress, who also is an attorney, called police to their home after the couple argued. In addition, she requested and later dropped two restraining orders against Burress.

Rather, the Giants are disciplining him because of behavior directly involving the team. Burress was not at the team facility for practice Monday as the Giants prepared for the week off and couldn't be reached by the team, a source confirmed Thursday.

It's not completely clear if Burress can be disciplined by the league for the two domestic incidents under the personal conduct policy, but based on the wording of the policy, it appears unlikely. Aiello said the league did not have any immediate comment on that subject.

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