The New Orleans Saints enter 2009 a potential Super Bowl contender, with a seemingly endless roster of big-time talent and personalities to match.
Drew Brees is a quarterback coming off a Hall of Fame-level season who’s as giving to the community in his humanitarian efforts as he is to his receivers in the passing game.
Reggie Bush is a Hollywood celebrity and former Heisman winner who early in his career has been better at landing high profile dates than staying healthy.
Marques Colston, after a season ending injury in ’08, looks to return to the form that turned the seventh round draft pick out of Hofstra into a budding NFL star.
For all the flare and persona, the most compelling player in a Saints uniform right now is embattled tight end Jeremy Shockey. While the Saints’ defense is clearly the X-factor in what fans hope will be a championship equation in 2009, Shockey represents the biggest question mark of any single player on the New Orleans roster.
The 29-year old faces something of a make-or-break season in 2009. Finally rid of the lingering effects of a broken leg that sidelined him for the Giants’ 2007 Super Bowl run and a sports hernia that slowed his learning curve in New Orleans last year, it would appear that Shockey is ready for a big season.
Yet, the brash tight end continues to face criticism—particularly concerning his dedication to the game—and some in NOLA already seem to be growing tired of his antics.
Shockey’s never been shy about saying what’s on his mind, whether it be barking at his quarterback, coach, general manager, or Howard Stern.
If given the chance to sit down with him, here’s what I’d ask number 88:
-Are you healthy right now?
-Did the leg still bother you last year?
-You also had to contend with a sports hernia, one that you reportedly blamed the Saints’ medical staff for misdiagnosing. What happened there?
-How far do the Saints have to go for this season to be a success?
-Obviously, you guys are going to do a lot of passing this year. What do you see as your role in the offense?
-When you came in from New York, what did coach Sean Payton tell you you’re role would be?
-Entering the league in 2002, you had immediate success and won the Rookie of the Year award. What made you prepared to come in and be a force in the league right away?
-Was it difficult to keep up the intensity after the early success?
-Since then, your production has dropped each season. Why do you think that is?
-Are there changes that you need to make in order to get back to that level?
-What was the transition like, coming in to New Orleans last year?
-Talk about the different coaching styles under Tom Coughlin and now Payton. Does one work better for you?
-How similar is this offense to what Payton ran when he was in New York? Did that make the transition easier?
-How hard was it to watch Super Bowl XLII from the owner’s box?
-Were you surprised by the trade?
-You’re often portrayed in media as a brooding hot-head; Is there another side to you that people aren’t aware of?
-In New York and—to a lesser extent—New Orleans, people seem to be very interested in your life off the field. Do you think there’s a line that should be drawn between players and fans or media?
-The Vegas incident, for instance...
-You and a lot of other former Miami Hurricanes workout at the U in the off-season. What are those sessions like?
-There’s something about Miami: Guys love going back there. Why train on campus rather than with your teammates in New Orleans? Do you lose anything by not being with those guys in OTAs (Organized Team Activities)?
-With so many weapons, it seems like a player could almost get lost in the shuffle of the Saints’ offense. Do you have to talk to Brees or Payton about getting you the ball?
-How do you spread it around with that much talent?
-Your team struggled in short-yardage situations last year? Is there a running back on the roster right now that can get it done in the trenches?
-I assume you’d be pretty happy to see Edgerrin James in old gold and black. Have you talked to the Edge about coming to New Orleans? Have you lobbied Mickey Loomis to sign James?
-You seem to truly enjoy going across the middle and sometimes look like you’re seeking out contact. Have you always played that way?
-Would you rather run a defender over than blow by him?
I expect Shockey to flourish this season. Either way, we're certain to hear a lot from him.