Who is Jeremy Shockey?
Jeremy Shockey is a two-time ‘Super Bowl’-winning American former football player, who played for the ‘New York Giants’ and the ‘New Orleans Saints,’ finishing his career with the ‘Carolina Panthers.’ The former ‘University of Miami’ footballer is considered one of the most talented, though under-achieving, tight-ends to have ever played the game. He has earned four ‘Pro Bowl’ selections in his career, besides garnering many awards and accolades, including the first-ever ‘Diet Pepsi National Football League (NFL) Rookie of the Year Award.’ He has been described as a lethal combination of the skills of legends such as Mike Ditka and Dick Butkus of the ‘Chicago Bears,’ considered to be the ultimate standard for measuring throwback tight-ends and line-backers, respectively. His size, his speed, and his general irreverent disposition, especially toward the opposition crowds, made him a maverick ‘NFL’ icon at the tender age of 22. Experts of the game say that his personal record does not do justice to the “helmet-tossing, expletive-spewing persona he brought to the field.” His number-80 jersey was the top-selling ‘Giants’ jersey in the New York City area during the peak of his career in the early 2000s. Known for his antics and controversies on and off the field, he had the label of “unfulfilled talent” attached to him long after his career was over. ‘Sports Illustrated’ once noted in a feature that “his life has come to resemble a beer commercial on endless loop.”
Childhood & Early Life
Jeremy Charles Shockey was born on August 18, 1980, to Jimmy and Lucinda Shockey, in Ada, Oklahoma. He lost his father early. He had one sibling, a brother named James.
Shockey’s football talent blossomed in his hometown, when he became a ‘lettered’ player for all four seasons he played for ‘Ada High School,’ mostly as a wide receiver and outside linebacker. He also returned punts and caught 50 passes for 1,108 yards and had 5 touchdowns as a senior, including the feat of returning 4 punts for touchdowns.
Coached by Gary McBroom, his exploits as a senior got him named to the ‘All-State’ and ‘All-District’ teams. He caught 8 passes for 206 yards against the top-ranked team in the state, Oklahoma City's ‘Carl Albert High School,’ but the game was lost during overtime.
Shockey was also part of his school’s basketball team during his senior year, besides being an honor-roll student.
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In 1999, during junior college at ‘Northeastern Oklahoma A&M,’ he was named first-team ‘JC All-American’ by ‘The JC Grid Wire’ and was a unanimous selection for the first-team ‘All-Southwest Junior College Conference,’ catching 33 passes for 484 yards and making 7 touchdowns.
Spoilt for choice for colleges to play for, he picked the ‘University of Miami’ over ‘Oklahoma,’ ‘Tennessee,’ ‘Texas,’ ‘Michigan State,’ and ‘Texas A&M,’ in the year 2000. He rose to prominence with an outstanding season, despite playing second fiddle to teammate Ivan Mercer.
Despite sustaining a ligament injury in his right knee, he proved crucial for ‘Miami’ in their big games. He became a ‘Hurricane’ legend by catching a 13-yard touchdown pass in the last minute to give ‘Miami’ a 27–24 win over the top-ranked ‘Florida State’ team, breaking their 10-year unbeaten streak at home. This was followed by game-changing contributions in wins against the second-ranked ‘Virginia Tech’ and the season-ender against ‘Boston College.’ He was a revelation in every game he played.
Having aced college football in just his second season, Shockey chose to forego his senior year at ‘Miami’ in 2001 and declared for the ‘NFL Draft’ for 2002 instead. He became the 14th pick by the ‘New York Giants’ in the very first round. ‘Giants’ owner Wellington Mara took him under his wing and gradually became a surrogate father of sorts to him.
Shockey took the ‘NFL’ by storm and quickly became the centerpiece of the ‘Giants’ offensive unit. He was named for the ‘Pro Bowl’ in four of his first five seasons at the franchise, with the exception of 2004, and though not on the field, he was still officially a ‘Giant’ when they won the 2007 ‘Super Bowl’ against the previously unbeaten ‘New England Patriots.’
On October 12, 2005, he was offered a 5-year extension with the ‘Giants,’ worth $26.38 million, making him the highest-paid tight-end in professional American football. Shockey justified his new contract by delivering a strong performance the next season, catching 66 passes for 623 yards and scoring a career-best of 7 touchdown receptions.
On July 21, 2008, Shockey was traded to the ‘New Orleans Saints’ in exchange for the second and fifth round picks in the ‘NFL Draft’ for 2009. He had a promising first game for his new team but had to sit out for 5 weeks on account of a sports-hernia just after three appearances. He had a poor first season overall, catching 50 passes for a career-low of 483 yards and 0 touchdowns.
He looked forward to turn things around in 2009, but his season was marred by injuries. The highlight, though, was him catching a pass for a touchdown in the ‘Saints' victory over the ‘Arizona Cardinals,’ despite suffering from a knee injury.
In the 2009 ‘Super Bowl,’ he managed to catch the go-ahead touchdown pass from quarter-back Drew Brees, against the ‘Indianapolis Colts,’ and became a second-time champion, as the ‘Saints’ bagged their maiden ‘Super Bowl’ in history.
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He was released by the ‘Saints’ on February 22, 2011. On March 3, 2011, he signed a year-long contract with the ‘Carolina Panthers.’ He did well at the club, alongside fellow tight-end Greg Olsen, bringing in a combined 995 receiving yards and 9 touchdowns. However, he was not renewed for the next season and left the team as an unrestricted free agent. He was 31 at the time.
Awards & Achievements
Shockey is ranked among the all-time greats of ‘Miami Hurricanes’ tight-ends in career receptions (6th), touchdown catches (tied at 2nd), and career yardage (6th).
He was chosen for the first-team ‘All-Big East’ honors by the league's coaches, ‘College Football News,’ and ‘The Sporting News,’ for his efforts in two consecutive seasons of college football with the ‘Hurricanes.’
He was one of three ‘Hurricanes’ on the ‘Lombardi Award Preseason Watch List’ for the number-one interior lineman of the US and was described as a rangy and athletic receiver who provided game-breaking abilities, had a penchant for making big plays, possessed extraordinary catching ability, and was deceptively quick and difficult to bring down in the open field.
He was touted as the finest tight-end to emerge in the country in 2001, with at least one reception in every game that year, and became one of the three finalists for the ‘John Mackey Award,’ besides being named to the All-American first-team by ‘CNN & Sports Illustrated.’
Shockey also received the inaugural ‘Diet Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year’ award in 2002, for his performance in his first season with the ‘New York Giants.’
Controversies on & off the Field
Shockey was known to spend much of his off-season time in a whirlwind of partying, gambling, visiting strip joints, and spending time with “Playmates.” He once went on a 3-day binge with Kid Rock and Pamela Anderson in Puerto Rico. He also went on a drinking spree with girls on a private jet to Vegas.
While he lived in his West New York, New Jersey condo (during his stint with the ‘Giants), there were rumors of him dating actor Tara Reid and trying his luck with singer Britney Spears and getting rejected.
In a 2002 radio interview, he made homophobic remarks about gay players in the ‘NFL’ but later retracted and regretted making them in a statement to the ‘New York Daily News.’ However, just a year later, a New York magazine reported that he had mocked the then ‘Dallas Cowboys’ coach Bill Parcells as a "homo," a comment he denied ever making.
Shockey became dissident after the death of Wellington Mara in 2005. It was well-known that he had taken the father figure’s passing rather hard. After a loss to Seattle during the 2006 season, he quipped, "We got outplayed, and we got outcoached. Write that down." He later apologized for the comment.
He also started criticizing the coaching staff openly after the games and even shouted at quarterback Eli Manning on the field and the sidelines, besides failing to attend voluntary practice sessions and other team activities.
After breaking his leg in a match against the ‘Redskins’ in December 2007, Shockey did not travel with the team or participate in meetings and activities. When the ‘Giants’ won the ‘Super Bowl’ without him, he showed resentfulness and refused to attend the parade through the ‘Canyon of Heroes,’ the ‘Super Bowl’ ring ceremony at ‘Tiffany's, or the team celebrations at the ‘White House.’
When rumors claimed that the ‘Giants’ were willing to trade him, he became belligerent and got the media involved. An alleged showdown with GM Jerry Reese during training was the final nail in his coffin.
In May 2009, Shockey was hospitalized in Las Vegas for severe dehydration, indicating that he had indulged in overdrinking out in the sun in the daytime.
In 2012, he wed Daniela Cortazar-Shockey, but the marriage lasted a mere 8 months, until January 2013. He later filed for divorce in Miami, claiming the marriage was "irretrievably broken."
Shockey is now retired and lives at his beach penthouse in Miami. In 2016, one of his close associates, Owen Hanson, was apprehended for connections with a drug and gambling ring. Shockey had to appear before a federal grand jury in the case, as investigating authorities were convinced of his involvement.