Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Jeremy Shockey: From Bombastic Bust to Super Hero?

There was a point amid a promising NFL career when Jeremy Shockey behaved annoyingly. But then came Media Day, the moment we were able to grasped signs of maturity. Finally, because there never was a time during an enigmatic career, Shockey acted with good sense.

Not only was he a distraction for teammates, but a mischievous tight end. At this time, he has grown and accepts a challenge as a Saint. But he has achieved more than the average tight end, and is fortunate enough to have been on winning teams.

Before, he was portrayed as a bombastic bust, but ever since tasting a bittersweet flavor at Super Bowl XLII with the New York Giants, he realized how gracious and gratifying sustaining a win on the biggest stage is. He probably wasn’t in good health to celebrate with ex-teammates, but he relates to players who were in similar situations.

It’s unfortunate he missed a significant game in which he had a broken left leg suffered late in the season that kept him sidelined. Even though he was inactive and unable to contribute in a huge way, Shockey recognized what it took and what’s at stake in a return home for Super Bowl XLIV.

“I’m here on a business trip,” said Shockey. “I’ve done enough partying to last me for this week.”

At least, he admits that he’s a party animal. But in this case, he’s more of a football devotee, committed to contributing on the sport's biggest stage. That he had a selfish personality; he was a pompous hypocrite. Ask Giants coach Tom Coughlin and general manager Jerry Reese, where in their regime Shockey failed to meet expectations and was implored to attend the Super Bowl. Finally, he wasn’t enthusiastic playing for the Giants and separated from the team, turning on a franchise with which he'd grown into a star.

But his selfish mindset, quickly, burned out avid fans and killed morale among teammates and the coaching staff and also injuries started to become problematic. The difference now is, everyone tells him how much they like having Shockey around. The difference now is, everyone tells him how much they could utilize his explosiveness and quick hands. The difference now is, he’s probably the coolest and likable figure within the organization.

And if you haven’t noticed any blemishes, again Shockey enters a critical game nursing an injured right knee. But any player with a functional state of mind is ready for a competitive matchup, particularly when the New Orleans Saints are one win away from immortality, reaching its first Super Bowl in franchise history.

In a neutral site, the Saints are viewed as underdogs, but more importantly they comprise of all the suitable necessities, beneficial in enduring delight. There are certainly good vibes, perhaps, understated impressions that makes absolute sense to the Saints. While most citizens here, in America, set their eyes on the legacy of Peyton Manning and Dwight Freeney’s health status, the optimist forgotten about the first-time arrivers.

Rather the Saints are undersized and inexperienced at such a high level: there’s Saints’ defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, a guru who has assembled a work of art on defense; there’s safety Darren Sharper, an explosive perfectionist who could steal the spotlight on Super Bowl Sunday, if he studies and reads all the plays accordingly, and there’s Shockey.

That's not counting a sturdy quarterback in Drew Brees or the sudden growth of running back Reggie Bush. But the biggest star may emerge at an unpredictable offensive position, and later hoist MVP honors. I’m referring to, Shockey, the monstrous 6-foot-4, 251 pound tight end.

Come now, he’s a totally different guy, understanding the importance of teamwork and contributing. And considering that he was a problem-child, Shockey has matured, putting to rest the rude mannerism. Never did he have a gnarly attitude, but an ungenerous attitude that never settled too well in New York. Nearly each week, he was criticized in local tabloids for either making inane remarks or staging foolish commotion among an intolerant organization, as a way to seize media attention.

As a stint gradually dwindled in New York, he was described as a “loose cannon” because he wasn’t compatible with quarterback Eli Manning. Blessed with ample chances, his imposing presence in the league never relapsed, recovering from the inevitable premise of self-destruction.

Since he was traded to New Orleans, a heartwarming town perceives Shockey has an endearing sporting figure. Make no mistake, he has come a long ways, though he’s not quite the ambassador. But he’s a lovable idol many welcomed with open arms, believing he’s a perfect fit.

Fame goes a long ways in New Orleans, a town attached to a loyal football franchise that revived a spiritless community of dreadful memories, regarding a heartless tragedy. Remember Hurricane Katrina ravaged an animated city, before the Saints were proclaimed as heroes for putting a smile on bleak faces, deprived of faith and hope. What we now verify as America’s franchise, Shockey has ascended to stardom. He’s viewed as a prolific player, valued greatly for running routes effectively and undermining defenses with gusto and a sharp-minded modus.

Even an unintelligent individual takes notice of what’s being analyzed during Super Week. If Shockey is robust by game time, he’s a threat to the Colts’ depleted secondary. It’s a huge loss that Freeney is sidelined, the all-time sacks leader in team history. It’s interesting to see if Shockey sabotages the Colts’ defense.

If anything, he’s an intimidating athlete with durability and athleticism to attack and punish Indianapolis by sprinting in routes and completing catches. If so, he’s very explosive after he completes catches, and usually gains a significant total in yards. In other words, Shockey is to be reckoned with.

“Watching Jeremy from afar,” said Williams. “I don’t think I would want him to be on a team I was associated with. But up close, I love the guy. He is crazy committed on the field, in practice and in games. He is a coach’s dream player. Now, that doesn’t mean I want to go out and have drinks or dinner with him. We know that side of him is crazy committed, too.”

Yes, knowing his reputation he loves to drink. But, I must admit, Shockey has grown up. And he’s now a menace on turf.

Consider it all the reason why he’ll have treatment and take on rigid preparations just so he’s back on the field in time for a precious opportunity. But he wouldn’t miss this game if his life depended on it, knowing the emphasis of shining when a championship is on the line. Why not now?

This is a week players spend dreaming of possessing the gleaming hardware, and if so, the moment is now when it’s in front of the large eyes. But it will take diligence and confidence to reach a pivotal climax that may never return in their favors. The only way Shockey misses the action is by having a leg or arm amputated.

“I’m going to play this game like it was my last game,” Shockey said Tuesday at Media Day.

Ineffective and inactive in prior games during the postseason, he’ll be one of Brees’ targets and difference-makers, depending on the number of touches.

Most of all, returning to Miami, where he was a college standout, Shockey comes to complete a long-awaited mission.

That’s to win the Super Bowl.

At 29, he’s a matured athlete and hero in some people’s eyes.