NEW YORK -- One-time Super Bowl hero Plaxico Burress was sentenced to two years in prison Tuesday for violating New York's stringent gun laws and was immediately taken into custody following his hearing.
Burress agreed to the plea deal last month and pleaded guilty to a lesser firearms charge. The charges stemmed from an incident late last fall, in which Burress accidentally shot himself in the thigh at a Manhattan nightclub.
He is expected to serve about 20 months with credit for good behavior, followed by two years of probation.
Burress arrived at the courthouse with his wife and son, whom he carried in his arms, at 9:41 a.m. Before the sentencing began, Burress asked for and was granted permission by the judge to say one last goodbye to his family, seated in the fifth row of the courthouse.
In court, Burress apologized to his family and fans and thanked them for their support. "We will all get through this," he said.
He was then taken into custody.
Burress will be taken to the Rikers Island jail in New York, and then transferred to the Downstate Correctional Facility in Fishkill before being sent to one of New York State's 29 medium-security prisons to serve out his sentence.
Afterwards, his defense attorney, Benjamin Brafman, called the case "terribly said and very tragic."
"This has been a very emotional experience for him." Brafman said. "He's sad about what he's done to his life, his career, and more importantly to his family. He's a fundamentally good man who has used bad judgement and is going to pay a very, very severe penalty."
The case went to a grand jury after months of negotiations between prosecutors and Burress' defense attorney broke down, apparently because Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau insisted that the former New York Giants wide receiver serve at least two years in prison for violating the city's strict gun laws.
On July 29, Burress took the rare and risky step of testifying before the grand jury, hoping to convince the panel that the gun was not used in the commission of a crime and that he was the lone victim. But days later, Burress was indicted on two counts of criminal possession of a weapon and one count of reckless endangerment. He faced a minimum sentence of 3½ years if convicted at trial.
On Aug. 20, the day he was to be arraigned, Burress agreed to a plea deal and pleaded guilty to attempted weapons possession in the second degree.
Hours after Burress pleaded guilty, the NFL announced that commissioner Roger Goodell had suspended the receiver and said Burress is ineligible to sign with any team until he completes his prison term. After that, Burress may sign with an NFL team without further review.
Burress, a nine-year veteran with the Giants and Pittsburgh Steelers, became a Super Bowl hero when he caught the winning touchdown pass in the last minute of the Giants' 17-14 upset win over the previously-unbeaten New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.
Burress and former teammate Antonio Pierce were at the Latin Quarter nightclub in Manhattan in late November 2008 when a gun tucked into Burress' waistband slipped down his leg and fired, shooting him in the right thigh.
The bullet narrowly missed a nightclub security guard who was standing inches away, prosecutors said. It lodged in the floor and was recovered by a bartender.
The gun was not licensed in New York or in New Jersey, where Burress lived. His license to carry a concealed weapon in the state of Florida had expired in May 2008.
Prosecutors said Pierce drove Burress to a hospital, then took the gun to his own home in New Jersey. It was later delivered to Burress' home. Pierce, who also testified before the grand jury, was not charged.
ESPN reporter Sal Paolantonio and The Associated Press contributed to this report.