PHILADELPHIA — Michael Vick’s advice for Plaxico Burress is to put his family ahead of football.
Vick, the Philadelphia Eagles’ Pro Bowl quarterback, says he hopes Burress uses him as an example in his return to the NFL. The former New York Giants receiver spent nearly two years in prison for a gun charge and was released Monday.
Vick has made a remarkable comeback to the league after spending 18 months in federal prison for dogfighting charges. He led the Eagles to the NFC East title last season and was voted The Associated Press Comeback Player of the Year.
Vick hasn’t communicated with Burress, but shared his thoughts on what he would say to him.
“Just take your time coming back and getting acclimated. Think family first and football second and it’ll all work out,” Vick said Wednesday. “It’s great that he’ll get a second chance. We’ll pray for him, we’re going to support him 100 percent and we’re in his corner and we just want him to excel.”
Vick was reviled when he came back, and there was an outcry from animal rights groups when the Eagles signed him in August 2009. But Vick won over fans in Philadelphia and outside the city, too, with his sensational performance on the field and his service in the community.
Burress doesn’t have to overcome similar animosity, though he still faces some challenges.
“Hopefully he’ll use my situation as an example and go out and try and emulate what I’ve done in his own way,” Vick said. “That’s what it’s about. It’s about growth and it’s about learning. Things in life happen in stages and those are some things you have to go through as an individual.”
The Eagles are rumored to be a potential home for Burress, and were even listed on one betting website as the favorites to land him at 3-2 odds. But a person familiar with the team’s thinking told The Associated Press that Burress isn’t in their plans.
That makes sense, considering the Eagles already have two standout receivers: DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin. Jackson has been to the Pro Bowl twice and Maclin has star potential. Jason Avant and Riley Cooper give the team depth at the position.
Burress would fit in perfectly as a situational receiver inside the red zone because of his size. But it’s likely he’d prefer a team that would offer him a chance to be the No. 1 or No. 2 target.
“He definitely brings a lot to the game, his passion, enthusiasm and the way he plays,” Vick said. Vick and several other Eagles have said they’d welcome Burress to Philadelphia.
It’s not their decision, though.
“We haven’t even gone there,” Philadelphia coach Andy Reid said during the team’s annual playground building event. “There is nothing you can do there.”
Vick was 29 when he returned. Burress turns 34 in August. While age is a factor, Vick said Burress’ position helps him.
“It’s actually easier being a receiver and coming back and playing the game,” Vick said. “You have to get your legs back up under you. I was a guy that had to live that. It’s tough. You think you can do it, but you have to take that time out and make sure you’re ready to go.”