Booze, Poor Decisions Taking Down A Potential Hero
When Jeremy Shockey was in New York, he was one of Giants' owner Wellington Mara's favorite players. The wild, impressionable Shockey who grew up without a father became a surrogate son to the great man they called "The Duke".
After the Giants made the Miami TE the 14th overall selection in the 2002 NFL Draft, Mara took the 6'5". 250 lb manchild under his wing. He saw great things for the unbridled Shockey; and for awhile instilled a pride and work ethic that turned this misguided kid from Ada, Oklahoma into a budding NFL superstar.
Shockey became invaluable to his new 'family'. His demostrative, vocal style infused life into the sagging Giants. He immediately became a favorite target of another player the Giants took a gamble on - QB Kerry Collins. He caught 74 passes in 2002 for 894 yards - good enough to make 1st Team All Pro as a rookie. The Giants went 10-6 and were back in the playoffs.
The next season, 2003, Shockey only played 9 games due to injury. The Giants fell to 4-12 and Jim Fassel was fired as head coach. Somehow, Shockey was voted to the Pro Bowl. He would be voted to the Pro Bowl twice more in his Giant career. He had become the one star the team could hang its hat on.
The change in Jeremy Shockey began in 2004 when the Giants hired Tom Coughlin and drafted Eli Manning. He seemed to resent the attention being heaped upon the young quarterbacking scion. He felt hindered by the stringent regulations enacted by Coughlin.
More dissent came in 2005, with the death of Wellington Mara. It was public knowledge that Shockey took Mara's death hard.
Wellington Mara was the only father figure that Jeremy Shockey had in his life. In 2003, when the injured Shockey partied too hard in New Orleans the night before a game, Mara was not happy, and Shockey knew it. He vowed to atone.
At the time of Mara's death, Shockey had just signed a $26.38 million, six-year extension to stay a Giant. With Mara gone, he would lose his mentor and protector - and his way.
In 2006, Shockey would openly criticize the coaching staff after games and scream at QB Eli Manning on the field and on the sidelines. His vow to Mara to act like a Giant and play like a Giant was suddenly a thing of the past. He had stopped attending voluntary practices and team activities. He had become a prima donna.
In 2007, humility would come knocking. On his way to another trip to the Pro Bowl, Shockey broke his leg in a December game against the Redskins, ending his season. The Giants would lose only one more game without him in their stretch run to becoming Super Bowl Champions.
Shockey did not travel to the Super Bowl with the team. It was said that he needed extra space because his leg was in a cast. He did not participate in may team meetings and activities. During the game, he sat in a luxury suite because it was deemed 'too hazardous' for him to be on the Giants sideline.
TV scans of the booth showed empty beer bottles and cups in front of Shockey and others in the booth. Had Mara been alive, that would not have been permitted. When the Giants won, Shockey did not attend the parade through the Canyon of Heroes.
He also opted out of the Super Bowl ring ceremony at Tiffany's and the team celebration at The White House. He apparently was upset the team succeeded without him. His understudy, rookie Kevin Boss, filled in quite nicely - even making a key reception in the Super Bowl.
His detachment from the club had been years in the making. Rumors circulated that the Giants wanted to trade Shockey. Instead of looking to make peace, he fought back in the media. The last straw was a shouting match in training camp with GM Jerry Reese. The blowout made Shockey look like a spoiled child. Resse asserted his authority and traded Shockey to New Orleans for two future draft choices.
New Orleans was the worst place for Shockey, who has always shown poor impulse control. He loves to party, in case you haven't heard.
The 2008 season turned out to be a waste for the hulking tight end. Reunited with former Giant OC Sean Payton, Shockey seemed to be on the verge of having a breakout season. After a great opening game, it appeared he and QB Drew Brees hit it off. But that changed quickly when Shockey was sidelined for 5 weeks with a sports hernia.
Of course, he looked for someone to blame, pointing fingers at the medical staff for not providing the proper treatment. During his time off, he slunk back into his depression - or paranoia - whichever you prefer. When Shockey returned to the lineup, he did little to impress. Brees rarely called his number.
What he needed was for Mara to come along with some words of encouragement. Unfortunately for Shockey, Mara had done that years before. Apparently, it did not take.
Now we see him back in the news for another off-field incident. Dehydrated in Las Vegas and hospitalized. That can only happen one way. He drank too much in the sun.
I hate writing articles such as this one. The type about fallen heroes. In this case, Jeremy Shockey may not have even been a hero. Some say he never reached his potential, so his fall isn't really that far.
I hope he succeeds. I hope he reaches back in the recesses of his memory and revisits those moments Mara spent with him. He needs to grow up. It turned out that he was never meant to be a lifelong Giant.
Right now, all we can ask is that he live up to the potential that Wellington Mara had seen in him seven years ago. I hope he will.