|New York Giants wide receiver Burress celebrates his Super Bowl win in February 2008 [EPA]
Former New York Giants star Plaxico Burress was sentenced to two years in prison after accidentally shooting himself in the thigh at a nightclub and later reaching a plea deal on weapons charges.
With time off for good behaviour, Burress will likely serve 20 months.
He will be monitored for an additional two years after he is freed from prison, which could come as early as the spring of 2011.
The Giants released Burress in April, but the 32-year-old told ESPN he hopes to resume his NFL career when he completes his sentence.
Career in doubt
Before the hearing began, Burress played with his preschool-age son, Elijah. Then he hugged and kissed his wife, child, father, grandmother and stepmother.
Burress was so soft-spoken during his apologetic courtroom address that onlookers could not understand him.
Defence lawyer Benjamin Brafton said, "This is a very real tragic case in many, many ways.''
He called Burress "a fundamentally decent man.''
Burress, who caught the winning touchdown for the Giants over the previously undefeated New England Patriots in the final minute of the 2008 Super Bowl, and former teammate Antonio Pierce were at the Latin Quarter nightclub in Manhattan last November when a gun tucked into Burress' waistband slipped down his leg and fired, wounding him.
The gun was not licensed in New York or in New Jersey, where Burress lived. His license to carry a concealed weapon in the Florida had expired in May 2008.
Pierce, who drove Burress to a hospital after the shooting, was not indicted.
Brafman previously said Burress was thinking of his family in taking the plea, but the attorney questioned the recommended prison sentence.
"This was not an intentional criminal act,'' Brafman said the day of the plea.
"In my judgment, a two-year prison sentence is a very severe punishment.''
|Burress may struggle to play again after twenty months in jail [GALLO/GETTY]
Gil Brandt, an analyst on NFL Sirius Radio and the former head of player personnel for the Dallas Cowboys, said Burress would not be too old for a comeback when he is released from prison.
"First of all, Plaxico is a guy who keeps himself in pretty good shape,'' Brandt said.
"Lots of times guys get heavy in the off-season. He is not a guy who has done that.''
But Brandt intimated it could be difficult for Burress to reacquire his football skills after so much time on the sidelines.
"It's like a person who has gone to college or high school and drops out of school for two years,'' he said.
"It is hard to reacquire your study habits. I think it is hard to reacquire the work habits you need to be successful when you have been away from the game for two years or so.''