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.
New York Giants
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."
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
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