In his book I Dream in Blue — an amusing, “insider” account of a season with the New York Giants (the wrong season, it turned out, the one before they won the Super Bowl) — author Roger Director makes a point of never writing Jeremy Shockey’s name without an exclamation point. “Shockey” will not suffice; only “Shockey!” could capture the outsize personality and influence of the man who has just now been traded to the Saints.
Like the book itself, this nomenclature was outdated. When drafted out of the University of Miami in 2002, Shockey seemed to fit a desperate need for the Giants: He would be the team’s raging id. The franchise had mostly been lacking a public face who would making back-page headlines and pop up in “Page Six” — Michael Strahan’s depressing divorce case a few years later would ultimately fill this gap — and Shockey, a brash, loud, fratty jock, was supposed to be that guy. But, other than some passive aggressive sniping at head coach Tom Coughlin, dating some B-list starlets, and an embarrassing premature sideline celebration, Shockey never quite lived up to what everyone wanted him to be, on the field and off. NFL insiders whispered that he was lazy and self-promoting; teammates grumbled when he attempted to speak for them to a willing, malleable press.
That said, the Giants probably would have kept him around … had last January and February not happened. When the Giants — with Shockey on the sideline with an ankle injury — banded together and won a Super Bowl without him, he was rendered irrelevant. (Rookie Kevin Boss was so good that no one ever thought to miss Shockey.) And when he pouted in the off-season, going so far as to skip the parade through the Canyon of Heroes, it was only a matter of time until the Giants finally acquiesced to his demands and shipped him out of town.
Trading Shockey would have seemed unthinkable just twelve months ago; he was a Pro Bowler (even if he was mostly selected on reputation) and the highest paid tight end in football. But twelve months ago, in the world of the Giants, was a lifetime ago. It is a measure of just how far the Giants have come that not only did they not need Shockey anymore, trading him is less a shock than a relief. Time for him to be someone else’s headache. —Will Leitch