August 20, 2009 / 5:42 PM / 10 years ago

Burress pleads guilty to gun charge, faces 2 years

Former New York Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress (R), arrives at court with his lawyer Benjamin Brafman, in New York August 20, 2009, to plead guilty to weapons charges related to accidentally shooting himself in the leg at a night club. REUTERS/Chip East

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Former New York Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress pleaded guilty to a gun possession charge on Thursday and agreed to a two-year prison sentence in what the Super Bowl hero’s lawyer called an agonizing decision.

Burress, 31, caught the winning touchdown in the Giants’ Super Bowl victory in February 2008, but his career unraveled the following season when he accidentally shot himself in the leg in a New York City nightclub in November.

He was released by the team and stands to lose millions of dollars in salary. After his guilty plea, the National Football League suspended Burress and told him he was ineligible to sign with any team until he completes his jail term, the NFL said in a statement.

Burress agreed to a deal in which he pleaded guilty to one count of attempted criminal possession of a weapon, which is less severe than the two counts of criminal possession and one misdemeanor count of reckless endangerment for which he was indicted on August 3.

Under those charges, he faced a minimum of three and a half years in prison and a maximum of 15.

Justice Michael Melkonian of New York state court accepted the plea and is due to formally sentence Burris on September 22.

“After an agonizing period of discussion, Plaxico has decided that he wanted to do this, put this behind him as quickly as possible and hope that when he is released he will be able to resume his stellar professional football career,” said lawyer Benjamin Brafman.

Burress did not speak to reporters when he left the courthouse.

Antonio Pierce, a Giants linebacker who was with Burress at the time of the shooting, was not charged. Pierce took the gun back to his home after the shooting, prosecutors said.

Reporting by Christine Kearney; Editing by Daniel Trotta and Todd Eastham

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