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Monday, July 21, 2008
Shockey had become a Giant problem

By Dan Graziano
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

New York Giants GM Jerry Reese really wanted things to work out with tight end Jeremy Shockey, but in the end, keeping him wasn't worth the distraction he would've caused. Reese didn't blink when the Saints offered a second and a fifth-round draft choice before April's draft because he thought Shockey was more valuable than that.

Of course, that was before Shockey initiated a shouting match with the normally understated Reese during a mandatory minicamp in June. Though he might not admit it publicly, Reese decided at that point that Shockey no longer had a place in the organization. In the back of his mind, he knew Saints head coach Sean Payton still coveted Shockey, and that's why he was so deliberate.



Marvin Gentry/US Presswire

Newly-traded Saints tight end Jeremy Shockey's act grew tired in New York.

He knew the controversial tight end could show up in Albany, N.Y, for training camp Thursday and cause a scene. And with the team already fighting symptoms from a Super Bowl hangover, it was a risk he wasn't willing to take. Shockey's close friend Plaxico Burress recently voiced his support for Shockey staying with the Giants, but I don't think most players will be terribly upset about the trade. Shockey lost leverage when his teammates made a Super Bowl run without him. He then took the childish route of showing up for a minicamp and hiding out in the locker room.

Shockey is a fierce competitor who could very well help lead the Saints back to the playoffs. But he'd burned too many bridges with the Giants. And don't think this is all based on his recent actions. While brilliant at times, Shockey has always been a lightning rod. His ridiculous remarks about Bill Parcells (which I won't repeat) in a magazine story five years ago spoke to his immaturity and his on-field tirades weren't a good match for the mild-mannered Eli Manning.

My colleague Pat Yasinskas says this trade makes the Saints a "great" offense, but I respectfully disagree. It certainly gives the Saints more firepower, but I'm not assuming that Deuce McAllister will come back strong from a knee injury and that Reggie Bush will suddenly become a game-changing player. The Saints are also missing a viable No. 2 wide receiver at the moment. Second-year player Robert Meachem is essentially a rookie after being inactive for all 16 games last season and David Patten is a stretch as a third receiver.

I realize that the best team in the NFC South can change on a dime because that's what has happened recently, but it seems strange that everyone is jumping back on the Saints' bandwagon. On Monday, New Orleans definitely became a better offense. But the reason this is a win-win trade is that the Giants are a better team without Shockey. If that were not the case, they'd put up with his nonsense for another season.

How is this playing in New York? Well, the Daily News is currently going with a "So Long, Shockey" headline, which seems pretty tame. Columnists such as Gary Myers of the Daily News have been saying Shockey should be traded for months, so I don't think Reese will experience much backlash in the media. I also think most Giants fans had resigned to the fact that the team was better off without Shockey in the long run.

Reese was notably brief in his statement about the trade:

"Jeremy Shockey was a great competitor and contributor during his years with the Giants," Reese said in a statement released by the team. "We wish him well in New Orleans."

Coughlin was much more effusive in his praise, and that's to be expected.

"Jeremy is a very talented football player who always played with great enthusiasm and great effort," Coughlin said in the same statement. "He was excited about playing. Jeremy always enjoyed being a physical football player and a tough football player. He's an outstanding football player who plays the game full speed and plays the game the way it was meant to be played. He is a physical blocker who is a gifted athlete with the ball in his hands after receiving the ball down the field. I wish him the best."

The New York Post is going with "Saint Shockey" on the front of its home page. Here is Paul Schwartz's story on the trade. Schwartz ends the story with this baffling line:

"When healthy, Shockey reportedly did not like how his role in the Giants' offense had been changing from pass-catcher to blocker."

So that's why he was so disgruntled? The Giants were trying to turn him into a blocking tight end.

Deliver me!