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NFL's Plaxico Burress to warn children away from guns

Former NFL player Plaxico Burress gives a statement outside of Manhattan criminal court after testifying before a grand jury in New York
Former NFL player Plaxico Burress gives a statement outside of Manhattan criminal court after testifying before a grand jury in New York

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Former New York Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress, a week after his release from prison on gun charges, pledged on Monday to preach against gun violence to the nation's children.

The 2008 Super Bowl star said the volunteer effort was the right move after serving nearly all of his 20-month sentence for weapons possession.

In November, 2008, Burress carried a gun into a Manhattan nightclub and accidentally shot himself in the leg.

"I paid a tremendous price for a bad decision," said Burress at a news conference organized by his partners in the effort, the National Urban League and the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

"All those 20 months and all those days I was saying to myself how can I take the next step and how can people learn from what happened to me," he said.

Burress, 33, who hopes to return to play in the National Football League, said he plans to speak with audiences around the country and will be mentored by former NFL coach Tony Dungy, who has helped disgraced football star Michael Vick resurrect his reputation.

His particular focus will be convincing children to stay in school and stay away from guns because "kids will listen to a person like myself," Burress said.

"I know that I won't be able to save everybody. But if I can just help a child to think about the decision of carrying a firearm or making the decision not to carry one out of the home that... saves lives in itself," Burress said.

Burress caught the game-winning pass in the last minute of New York's 17-14 upset of the unbeaten New England Patriots in the Super Bowl 42 in February, 2008.

Released by the Giants following the shooting incident, he has been expected to market his talents as an NFL free agent once the ongoing labor dispute between NFL owners and players is resolved.

"I'm a champion on the field and my goal is to be a champion in life and off the field," Burress said.

(Reporting by Ellen Wulfhorst; Writing by Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Peter Bohan)

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