New York Giants  

 

Shockey saga serious thorn in side of defending champions

  • By Thomas George NFL.com
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Scott Halleran/Getty Images
When healthy, Jeremy Shockey is one of the most productive tight ends in the NFL.


The Jeremy Shockey/New York Giants dispute is similar to the Chad Johnson/Cincinnati Bengals, Terry Glenn/Dallas Cowboys, Chris Simms/Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Jason Taylor/Miami Dolphins rumbles.

Player is upset with his team.

Team is not thrilled with the player.

Here is the huge difference: The Giants won Super Bowl XLII last February without Shockey, who was injured.

There is no question that having him onboard and in tune increases their chances to repeat. There is also no question that having won it all without him, there is no fear on the Giants' part of moving on without him.

Jeremy Shockey, TE
New York Giants

Career statistics
Years: 6
Rec: 371
Yards: 4,228
TDs: 27

Thus, the Shockey saga is most intriguing because it is a thorn in the middle of a championship club. Here is a prime player who feels betrayed by his team and one who is falling out of favor with his team. Believe it, the bum feelings here are mutual. He can stay if he falls in line. He can be heavily fined and suspended if he does not. He can still be traded.

And any of the above can still happen before the Giants report to camp on July 25.

Once camp kicks in and if the Giants simply wait and watch to see what unfolds, it is Shockey who will color most whether their union lasts. Even before then, the Giants will continue to entertain offers to move him.

The Giants will trade him in an instant if they get better than the second- and fifth-round pick package that the New Orleans Saints presented earlier this year. Moving that fifth to a fourth would likely do it. Getting a first-round pick and a solid player the Giants like would do it.

Over the next month, both sides have plenty to ponder.

And wonder how "Wow" went to "Uh-oh."

Shockey sure wowed 'em when he was the 14th pick in the 2002 draft. Then-Giants general manager Ernie Accorsi moved up to that spot to swipe what he believed was a game-breaker at the position.

Shockey would prove to be that and over the last six seasons show that he was a much better player than several selected before him. When considering that David Carr (first), Joey Harrington (third), Mike Williams (fourth), Ryan Sims (sixth), Roy Williams (eighth) and Wendell Bryant (12th) were all chosen before Shockey, the Giants gained tremendous value in that draft. Shockey would earn Pro Bowl berths in 2002, 2003, 2005 and 2006.

The Giants knew Shockey was good, but he surprised them early with just how good he was. He was a natural. He was the fastest and most effective tight end in the passing game that many among the Giants coaches and management had ever seen.

But along with the Pro Bowls and increased stature, foot, ankle and knee injuries slowed him. Along came fire from Shockey that indicated to them that he was a loose cannon. Loose cannon has amped into out of control and unacceptable, in the Giants’ views.

He showed up to their recent minicamp unwilling to join other injured Giants on the sidelines. This after complaining about not being allowed on the sidelines at the Super Bowl because he was injured, though he was given entry into a Giants suite while injured players Mathias Kiwanuka and Derrick Ward watched the game from the stands. Shockey had a verbal altercation with Giants general manager Jerry Reese. Shockey helped set an atmosphere that will not work with Giants coach Tom Coughlin -- one where an individual creates a firestorm and makes himself more visible and vocal than the team.

Coughlin has always preached against this. He has simply not allowed it, and it is one of the reasons the Giants figured he was perfectly suited to lead them four years ago. That, too, has long been the Giants' preferred way. Sure, Coughlin listened more to his players and last season completed a makeover in harnessing some of his military style. But Coughlin remains a firm believer in team over individual.

Otto Greule Jr. / Getty Images
Jeremy Shockey's approach doesn't fit into the Giants' team-first philosophy.

He and the Giants look no further than their historic season a year ago. As individuals, they were not as good as Dallas or New England. They emphasize that Dallas boasted 13 Pro Bowl players and the Giants only one. That New England was unbeaten and looking unbeatable.

But team won. Coughlin’s way won. The Giants' way won.

This makes Shockey’s stance -- complaints on how he is being used more as a blocker than receiver, his perceived disrespect in how he has been treated not only as a player but also as a person -- less endearing.

They will not tolerate Shockey making his quarterback look silly by showing him up when the ball does not come his way. Not tolerate him being an un-coachable player.

They will not allow Shockey to be the same Shockey.

Something has to give.

And in this instance, if he remains a Giant, it will be Shockey.

Winning the Super Bowl gives a team ultimate cache.

An NFL general manager offered this view: "Shockey is among the top five tight ends in the league. His blocking is downplayed. He is a very good blocker. Of all of the best tight ends -- (Antonio) Gates, (Tony) Gonzalez and (Jason) Witten -- he is easily a better blocking tight end than any of them. His receiving skills have diminished. He drops way too many balls. Some of that is likely just concentration and his situation. I would imagine before the season kicks off, there will be other suitors in a trade for him. Injuries and circumstances might call for it. But whether he is a Giant or somewhere else, the player should take inventory on what has worked and what has not worked for him in this league. And clean it up."

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