NEW ORLEANS -- Jeremy Shockey has been a controversial figure throughout his career, but he got a glowing sendoff from one chapter Tuesday morning.
It came from New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton, who made the decision to release Shockey before the lockout.
“It was probably more difficult for me because of my relationship with him going back to New York,’’ said Payton, who was an assistant coach with the Giants in Shockey’s rookie season. “He’s one of my favorite players ... and he plays with passion. He brought a swagger to what we do.’’
Shockey signed with Carolina and Payton was happy to give a detailed scouting report of what the tight end can bring to the Panthers. And continued raving about Shockey’s swagger.
“It’s an aspect of his game where it’s almost calming to everyone around him because he can kind of take on that role and make the big catch and be ready to come up with the big play,’’ Payton said. “I think it’s a little contagious as well. He has got strong hands in traffic. He’s bigger than anyone ever thinks until you see him and you’re up next to him and you realize this guys is big. He’s a big target with strong hands and he has got that ability to, fourth-and-four, to win the game, he has that ability and sees himself making that play and that has never changed.
“To his credit, he’ll come into training camp in great shape. He’s something. He’s a rare athlete and someone, and I’ve seen Year 1 to where he’s at now, and there are aspects of what he does and what he brings to the table. I also think he’s a great teammate.’’
Payton said he’s happy he’ll still get to see Shockey twice a year.
“What was best for him, even if it wasn’t as good for the Saints, made me happy,’’ Payton said. “He’s in our division obviously, and you respect him and you understand the threat he presents. But more than anything else, I was happy mostly for him.’’