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Are You Rooting for Jeremy Shockey?

Once upon a time, Jeremy Shockey was a pretty popular member of the New York Giants. He was young, brash, outspoken, and, all told, kind of a jerk — but he was our jerk, and a four-time Pro Bowl selection to boot. (As per the collective bargaining agreement, every Pro Bowl a player makes entitles him to be 5 percent more jerky.) He was pretty popular, in fact, right up until the day he became unnecessary, sometime between breaking his ankle in December 2007 and the Giants winning the Super Bowl without him a few weeks later.

Shockey got a ring that season, but he doesn't wear it. He watched the Super Bowl from a luxury box, but skipped the parade down Broadway two days later. He says he wasn't even invited to the White House (though the team says otherwise). He was a part of the team, but he wasn't really a part of the team. He understands this as well as anyone. At Media Day yesterday, he referred to the Super Bowl XLII champs as "that team" instead of "our team," and lest you think that's just semantics, he didn't say the word "Giants" once.

We won't pretend to know what it's like to watch your team win a championship, knowing you didn't really have anything to do with it. Phil Simms, of all people, says he regrets attending the Giants' Super Bowl win over the Bills, for which he was injured. But Shockey seemed to go out of his way to distance himself from "that team."

Shockey may have been popular, but he was forgotten pretty quickly around these parts, and not just because Kevin Boss proved to be an able replacement. His divorce from the team was just complicated enough to leave a sour taste in the mouths of those who once cheered for him. He gets his chance at a real Super Bowl ring on Sunday — one, presumably, that he'd wear. (He's actually hurt this time, too, but not nearly as badly.) Whether those Giants fans are rooting for him to succeed might depend on how short — or is it how long? — their memories are.

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Photo: Scott Halleran/Getty Images