Sports. Honestly. Since 2011

Underrated New York Giants: Jeremy Shockey

Jeremy Shockey

Coming into the new millennium, the New York Giants were in the midst of a transition in team history. The glory days of Phil Simms and Lawrence Taylor were gone. Under head coach Jim Fassel, the New York Giants became a winning organization again. They represented the NFC in the Super Bowl in 2000 but lost to the Baltimore Ravens 34-7. They scored their lone touchdown of the game on special teams. One year later, the team Big Blue was in desperate need of more explosive playmakers on offense. The New York Giants got their man when they drafted All-American tight end from the University of Miami, Jeremy Shockey. In retrospect, Shockey was a controversial Giant. But he was also an underrated offensive threat who helped usher in a new era of NFL tight ends.

Remembering Jeremy Shockey: An Underrated New York Giants Reciever

The New York Giants selected the 6-foot-5 251-pounder with the 14th draft pick overall in the 2002 NFL draft. Shockey was the starting tight end on the undefeated, national champion 2001 Miami Hurricanes. Shockey was a rare combination of speed, power, and athleticism at tight end. The Giants had drafted their version of Hall of Famer Kellen Winslow, Tony Gonzalez, and Antonio Gates. Shockey made an immediate impact on the team during his rookie year, finishing the season with 74 receptions and nearly 1,000 yards receiving. He was selected to the Pro Bowl, named an All-Pro, and the Rookie of the Year. Shockey quickly became a favorite target of Giants’ quarterback Kerry Collins and offensive play-caller Sean Payton. Big Blue fans loved his bruising style and outspoken demeanor both on and off the field. The Giants had a star in the making who could become an all-time great.

Shockey was named to the Pro Bowl three more times during his New York Giants’ career. The best statistical year of his career was 2005 during which he caught 65 passes for nearly 900 years and seven touchdowns. Two years later, in a Week 10 game against the Dallas Cowboys, Shockey tied Mark Bavaro for the franchise record for receptions by a New York Giants’ tight end in a game with 12. But 2007 also marked a turning point in Shockey’s Giants career. Shockey broke his leg during a Week 15 loss to Washington. He ultimately missed the Giants playoff run including their 17-14 victory over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 42. The fallout from that injury foretold the end of the tight end’s time in New York.

His Antics Were a Double-Edged Sword

Jeremy Shockey learned his brash style of play at the “U,” where being outspoken is just as important as winning. Almost immediately after his rookie season, Shockey became a hot commodity in New York. He signed endorsement deals with Nike, Casio, and Steve Madden. Shockey partied with celebrities and pop divas. But at times, Shockey’s attitude worked against him. At Giants training camp during his rookie year, Shockey was reluctant to sing the Miami Hurricanes fight song, a time-honored rookie tradition. The argument led to a fight with veteran linebacker Brandon Short. He also got into hot water for homophobic comments made on the Howard Stern Show and got fired from a weekly spot with Mike and Mad Dog, an institution of New York sports radio. Shockey feuded with the hosts and was often late for his interviews.

Shockey’s play on the field wasn’t always consistent. The 2003 NFC Wild Card game against the San Francisco 49ers is one of the darkest times in Giants history. Big Blue blew a 24-point second-half lead. Shockey dropped a pass in the end zone that would have given the Giants a 28 point lead going into the fourth quarter. New York didn’t score again and ultimately lost the game 39-38. The losses caught up to Jim Fassel and led to a new coaching regime and starting quarterback. Gone were Fassel and Collins and in their place was Tom Coughlin and rookie sensation Eli Manning.

The End of the Shockey Era

Shockey and Coughlin were a combustible mix. He fought his new head coach over team rules, his role in the offense, and Manning’s execution of the passing game. It all came to head in Week 10 of 2007. After the leg injury, Shockey distanced himself from the team. He did not travel to the Super Bowl with his teammates, watched the game from a luxury suite instead of the sidelines, and was pictured with empty beer bottles and cups. When the Giants won, Shockey didn’t attend the parade through the Canyon of Heroes and opted out of the team celebration at The White House. The writing was on the wall, Shockey was bitter and looking for greener pastures.

The Giants seemed ready to move on from Jeremy Shockey after the Super Bowl win. Manning developed chemistry with Shockey’s understudy Kevin Boss and the offense ran more efficiently without the temperamental Hurricane. The last straw was a shouting match in training camp with GM Jerry Reese. Reese traded Shockey to the New Orleans Saints for two future draft choices.

New Team, Same Story

Shockey was reunited with his former Offensive Coordinator Sean Payton in New Orleans. Initially, the marriage between quarterback Drew Brees and Shockey worked, but in three seasons with the Saints, Shockey battled injuries and dwindling productivity. Shockey did contribute to the Saints Super Bowl 44 winning team, but his best years were behind him. He ultimately signed with the Carolina Panthers and finished the 2011 season with 37 receptions and four touchdowns.

What exactly is the legacy of Jeremy Shockey? Although his time with the New York Giants lasted only six seasons, he established himself as one of the best receivers to ever wear a Giants jersey. His 371 receptions rank fifth-most in the history of the franchise, and he’s either the first or second-best tight end in team history. Love him or hate him, Jeremy Shockey is one of the most underrated receivers in New York Giants history.

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