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At 25, Shockey still plays hard -- and parties hard

ALBANY, N.Y. -- Four seasons in the NFL haven't changed
Jeremy Shockey.

The three-time Pro Bowl tight end is still playing hard,
partying hard, dying to win a championship, and saying things that
will raise the eyebrows of the New York Giants and coach Tom
Coughlin.

In a wide-ranging 20-minute session with reporters on Sunday
that was mostly positive about the Giants' chances this season,
Shockey criticized his own lack of patience, noted that the team's
current offense limits him and that Coughlin can sometimes -- to put
it politely -- be annoyingly stubborn.

While candid, the comments were mild compared to those made
before his second season in 2003, when the flamboyant player
angered late owner Wellington Mara by making a derogatory comment
about Dallas coach Bill Parcells -- the man who led the Giants to
two Super Bowls -- and discussing his sexual fantasies in a magazine
piece.

"I play hard," the 25-year-old Shockey said during a break at
the Giants' training camp at the University at Albany. "In life, I
live life hard. I play hard on the football field. That's just my
mentality."

If Shockey made anything clear, it was that his desire to win is
exceeded only by the frustration when the Giants don't. He can no
longer leave the field with a smile after dropping a pass.

"It's all about winning, it's not always about talking to you
guys," Shockey said. "I know you get mad at me sometimes when I'm
not talking to you. I want to win. I won a championship at every
level I have been, high school, college and I definitely want to
win one at this level."

Despite catching 65 passes for 891 yards and seven touchdowns,
earning a Pro Bowl berth and helping the Giants (11-5) win the NFC
East title, there were times last season where Shockey was
frustrated.

It manifested itself by him flapping his arms, shaking his head
or giving some other sign to indicate that Eli Manning didn't get
him the ball.

Shockey never intended to show up the now third-year
quarterback, adding many times his frustration resulted from being
double- and triple-teamed.

"In high school I used to try to bite my tongue off and lip off
and bleed everywhere," Shockey said. "Now I know it's going to be
another play, but it's hard when you know you can make a play and
you don't get the opportunity."

Shockey, who had 74 catches as a rookie under then-coach Jim
Fassel, said Coughlin's offensive system doesn't give him the same
flexibility.

"Jim set me down," Shockey said, "and said, 'We are going to make this easy for
you. You don't run the routes like they are in
the book, you can do what you see.'"

Shockey added that there have been some changes this season.

"We are almost there, we put new things in this year," Shockey
said. "It's an easy adjustment when you have a head coach who
really wants to win, but he can be an ass sometimes. But that's
what your head coach can be. That's what you need."

Coughlin was not available to the media Sunday.

Shockey was quick to point out his own faults, saying he can get
faster, catch the ball better, run more precise routes, block
better and be more patient.

"That is probably my biggest downfall as far as the game,"
Shockey said of his patience. "I want to get started off quick and
get the fans into it quick."

Competitive almost to excess and somewhat bizarre at times -- he
showed up for lunch on Saturday wearing a bathrobe -- Shockey
sympathized with receiver Plaxico Burress for being visibly angry
after not making a catch in the Giants' 23-0 playoff loss to
Carolina.

"Everybody makes a big deal about him, why he acts the way he
acts," Shockey said. "He's a competitor. Would you rather him
walk off or leave something or come back with an AK-47? People act
like that."

One thing that Shockey won't change is the way he plays. He goes
all out all the time and it has left him with nagging injuries all
season. His left hand had a red welt Sunday, and the Giants haven't
had any hitting drills yet.

It's the same off the field, where he says that controversy
makes him play better.

"Everyone knows I drink here and everyone knows I go out and
party but I take good care of my body," said Shockey, adding he
doesn't drink to excess. "I take vitamins every day. I get
acupuncture, massages, tons of things to keep [my] body healthy.

"If I go out and drink one night, I guarantee the next day I am
getting heavily replenished with water and massages," he added.
"I respect my body tremendously."

Shockey, who signed a five-year, $31 million contract extension
last year, would like to play 10 years -- and leave without limping. He will quit when hesees his talents diminishing and he won't stay around just to set a
record.

"I don't think you can tell how long a person can play," he
said. "Maybe I'll get finer with age as wine."