Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Shockey: 'It's not about me'
METAIRIE, La. -- Jeremy Shockey was adamant, as he's been known to be.
The matchup of the 5-0 Giants and 4-0 Saints is not about him, or his unhappy, injury-plagued last season in New York, or any kind of payback.
"It's not about me, all right? So no more questions [about that]. It's about two teams going against each other," Shockey said after Wednesday's practice. "I want to make that clear. There's already been some references about vendettas and stuff like that. It's about two teams. It's two great teams playing against each other."
Shockey has been known to attract attention to himself, even unwittingly so, and tried to have a sense of humor about that as he spoke to a swarm of reporters in the locker room at Saints headquarters.
Soon after he began to answer questions, a fire alarm went off, and he was asked jokingly if he had anything to do with it.
"Me again. It's always me. There's the question again," Shockey said. "No, I did not plan this."
Although he sought to steer the conversation away from his past in New York, the star tight end acknowledged "it's definitely going to be different" for him to play against the Giants, the team that drafted him in 2002.
"I'm not the only guy that's ever gotten ready to play against his old team," Shockey said. "I know those guys so it's going to be strange in that aspect. They've changed a lot of personnel over the years I've been gone. I'll just deal with it like I do every week. ... I've moved on. They've moved on."
Shockey was selected for four Pro Bowls during his six years in New York. But he was injured -- and unhappy -- during the Giants' Super Bowl championship run two seasons ago.
Shockey was critical of the way the Giants treated him during that time, saying he did not feel welcome at team events or on the sideline during the playoffs. He has spoken bitterly of paying for his own flight instead of flying with the team when the Giants went to the Super Bowl, and of not being allowed to stay in the same hotel as the team or watch the game from the field.
Shortly before 2008 training camps opened, the Giants traded Shockey to New Orleans. The move reunited the fiery tight end with Saints coach Sean Payton, who had been an offensive assistant with the Giants when Shockey was a rookie and had 894 yards receiving, still his most in one season.
His first season with the Saints did not go as well as he'd planned, in large part because he was slowed by a sports hernia early in the season and a sprained ankle late in the year. In 12 games, he caught 50 passes for 483 yards but did not score a touchdown.
Shockey often skipped voluntary workouts with New York earlier in his career, training on his own in Miami, but he spent much of the past offseason in New Orleans, as most Saints receivers do, hoping to develop a better rapport with quarterback Drew Brees.
It appears to have paid off. Shockey leads the Saints with 18 receptions this season. He has 162 yards receiving and two touchdowns.
Shockey never had that close of a relationship with the Giants' Eli Manning, though Shockey said he was pleased to see the younger of the Manning brothers doing well after a rocky beginning in New York.
"It's great to see him having success the past couple of years because he went through some tough times," Shockey said. "But everyone goes through that in New York at some time, you know. Mine was at the end of my career in New York and his was in" the beginning.
Brees, who was drafted by San Diego and helped the Saints beat the Chargers last season, said he thinks Shockey will be fired up when he sees Giants blue across the line of scrimmage.
"You can tell. I know the feeling. Jonathan Vilma knows the feeling" from the Saints' last game against the Jets, Brees said. "There are plenty of guys playing against your old team for the first time. I think any competitive person will have little extra juice, a little extra fire. Jeremy Shockey is a guy that doesn't have any shortage of energy during the week or on game day ... So really for him it's just going to be about staying poised and composed while at the same time playing the type of football he's used to playing -- which is just kind of somewhat of a wild man mentality.
"I'm confident he's going to be just fine."