Jeremy Shockey is what you would call a true rock star. It starts with his exceptional talent, which he's showcased well over the years. It continues with the fact he's an incredibly recognizable figure that crosses over from the world of sports into pop culture. Shockey is loved by both men and women alike. Actually, it seems A LOT of women admire him. I know this from the ladies in the WAFB building alone. You could say Shockey is a bit like a modern day Axl Rose or Vince Neil. He's got his share of tattoos, enjoys raising a little hell, and embodies the good ol' resentment of authority. His loyal fanatics certainly embrace that spirit. They fist pump to it in their Superdome seats like "Pauly D". Rarely does Shockey catch a pass and simply return it to referee. Nope. The ball is often spiked or tossed wildly into the turf, bouncing in some odd direction as he trash-talks the defender. It's also not often that Shockey makes things easy for the media. He always seems to belittle a reporter and say something snide - if he agrees to talk at all. Again, some of those testosterone-filled, swaggering, Affliction shirt-wearing Shockey worshippers can't get enough of this stuff.
To prove the point, during training camp last summer Shockey caught a pass during routine drills and proceeded up field. Then for no particular reason he decided to stop and drop-kick the football into the air. The ball basically knuckled and floated straight up into the air before hopping a short distance. It was stupid and pointless.
The crowd roared.
"I wonder if the fans realize….they're cheering for a 15-yard penalty," a player told us in interviews after practice.
Seriously, Shockey's place in Saints history is more than secure. It's absolutely concrete. After all, he's the man who caught the game-winning touchdown in Super Bowl 44. While Tracy Porter's interception return for a touchdown is the highlight play replayed more than any other, it was the insurance score in the 31-17 triumph. Drew Brees' two-yard strike to Shockey late in the fourth quarter gave the Saints their first lead against the Colts and put them in position to make monumental history.
That postseason began with Shockey giving the Saints a huge boost in their divisional playoff triumph over Arizona. It was a spark desperately needed. The Black & Gold quickly trailed the Cardinals 7-0 after being stunned by a 70-yard romp on the game's first play. Some fans were beginning to panic considering the #1 seeded Saints entered the postseason on a three-game losing streak. But it was Shockey who caught the first crucial third down conversion of the afternoon. That drive would lead to a tying touchdown, and shortly after he would haul in a 17-yard scoring strike for a 14-7 lead. The rout was soon on, and the Saints cruised 45-14.
As much as Shockey sparked the Saints during the magical postseason run, he's also disappointed with his behavior off the field. Not long after the Saints hoisted the Vince Lombardi trophy, there were reports of Shockey leaving public appearances early and not being so friendly when he was actually there. Some who attended and the owners of these establishments rallied to Shockey's defense, saying his behavior was fine. I wasn't there, so I won't say. I do know this - Saints like Drew Brees, Tracy Porter, Devery Henderson, Roman Harper, Garrett Hartley and countless others made similar public appearances after the Super Bowl. And there was never a peep of trouble from any of those stops.
Following a disgusting loss to Arizona this season, a member of the media was simply trying to do his job and get some sound bites from some of the Saints players. One of the players he approached was Jeremy Shockey. Shockey proceeded to tell this reporter he didn't recognize who his "little station was" and quipped, "Are you from the country station or something?" Some of you may find that funny, and perhaps it is to an extent. But no matter what mood you're in, it never hurts to be polite and treat people with a little respect. Brees always does.
It's funny…not long after Shockey decided to audition for punter last July on that sweltering day, there was another tight end that caught everyone's eye. He wore #80 and was also from Miami - just like Shockey. Jimmy Graham indeed looked like a beast before the season began and certainly became one late in the regular season. Graham would catch four touchdowns in the Saints final three games including the huge, game-winning score at Atlanta on Monday night. Shockey and his large contract became expendable. It's apparently time to turn things over to the much cheaper, much younger Graham.
But again, we have the memories. And there are some good ones. Let's not forget that 66-yard catch and run at the Miami Dolphins during that wild 46-34 comeback win in 2009. That poor Dolphins' defensive back seemed to be stiff-armed for about 50 of those yards. That was some impressive stuff. And he was a cool personality to have around. Shockey certainly enhanced the star power of the club - star power the Saints collectively have never had before.
The NFL is a cold business. There's no room for sentimental stuff. Even rock stars like Shockey get dropped. But not to worry; he won't be unemployed long. He's put up some of the best numbers ever by a tight end in the NFL and all that bravado can still be pretty enticing.
But let's think about this for a moment. Drew Brees has thrown 101 touchdowns over the last three seasons and Jeremy Shockey has caught a measly 6 of them. Are those numbers really worth all the Shockey hype, all of his countless endorsements, all the noise and attitude?