Jump to content
Washington Football Team Logo

Insider: Shaawwwk-eeeeee


Recommended Posts

More on Shockey

Full Throttle

By Tom Friend

ESPN The Magazine

Friday, August 1

Updated: August 5

7:51 PM ET

At 4 a.m., on the 51st floor of a swank Vegas hotel, a long-haired man is doing push-ups. One-handed push-ups with claps in the middle. It's 4 a.m., and the long-haired man is determined to sweat out the Coronas. Let's see. Four at the blackjack table. Three more with those chicks. That's seven. Screw it. He's always feeling guilty like this, always doing crunches in the dead of night in a Led Zeppelin T-shirt, always waking at dawn to cook egg whites, always trying to remember what got him here, to a 51st floor in Vegas.

His name is on everyone's lips, except it's never just Shockey: it's Shaawwwk-eeeeee. And it's all because of one manic season. It's all because he flipped off a 49er, went homophobic on Stern, grew his hair like Eddie Vedder, ran over the entire Texans defense, doused those fans with ice and pinched some Playboy bunnies on the derriere.

Now he is the first Joe Namath the New York Giants have ever had. Now he goes to Vegas with his new pal, George Maloof, and they win a pile at blackjack, then hand 10-grand chips to total strangers. Take it, dude, take it. Now he walks through casinos, gets invited to random bachelor parties. Are there gonna be girls there? He went to one in April, and the groom and his buddies, who were from Boston, kept yelling Shaawwwk-eeeeee, like they knew him. Then one of them walked up and said, "Patriots rule, Giants suck,'' and instead of ignoring it, Shockey said, "F--- you." Dead serious. Because they don't know him. They don't know how he got here, and they don't know about the battle for Jeremy Shockey's soul.

He is a hick from Oklahoma who's come to New York to take care of business and his hormones, and the sooner he decides what matters more -- football or chicks, football or tequila, football or Howard Stern -- the better. He partied with David Wells in Manhattan, and the Giants winced. He talked about buying a motorcycle, and the Giants begged him not to. Wellington Mara, at 86 the oldest owner in the NFL, would like to have a chat with him. Mara hasn't had a Golden Boy on offense since Frank Gifford, and so he's grateful for the entertainment, but he wants to sit Shockey down and say, "We love you, but tone it down a bit."

Shockey would listen -- "If he wants me to change, I'll change" -- but that doesn't mean he'd be happy about it. "They drafted me for who I am. I'm single, I'm 23. I'm in a great situation. Why not take advantage of it?" Only guilt and 4 a.m. push-ups can keep him in line now. "New York's made him a monster,'' says 49ers cornerback Mike Rumph, a college teammate. And there's no denying his celebrity. In June, Shockey was walking down West 43rd Street when he was flagged down by an elderly gentleman in a chauffeured Mercedes. Slowly, the other Giants owner, 77-year-old Bob Tisch lowered his car window, like he wanted some Grey Poupon. But he had just one thing to say:


Christmastime, '59, Bakersfield, Calif. A car drives in the pitch dark. Three sisters -- 2-year-old Lucinda, 8-year-old Jolene and 14-year-old Connie -- are in the backseat. A drunk driver rams them from behind, and the car skids into a semi. Their driver, a family friend, is fine, but the beautiful divorcée in the passenger seat -- the girls' mom -- snaps her neck. She'll never walk again.

Jolene says Evylene Pendley was a cross between Kim Novak and Marilyn Monroe, but after the accident, she was a divorced quadriplegic raising three girls from a wheelchair. She moved to Oklahoma because an aunt there could help, but the daughters ended up doing the legwork, two of them, anyway: Connie, born with cerebral palsy, was institutionalized after the accident. So Jolene and Lucinda fed their mom, put on her makeup, flipped her over at night to prevent bedsores. "Lost my childhood," Lucinda says. The only way out was a husband or a career, and Jolene found both as a nurse. That left Lucinda alone with her mother, cooped up on weekends from seventh grade on. When Lucinda was a high school senior, Mom freed her by moving into that nursing-home room with Connie.

And when she was 21, Lucinda got married. But five years later, Jimmy Shockey walked out on her and their sons, James and Jeremy. Jeremy was a handful. He was the altar boy running through the church lighting candles. He'd barge headfirst through chain-link fences. But he never cried. Even when he jumped off a parked car and gored his knee, he didn't cry. "Pain tolerance," Lucinda says.

But on weekends, Jeremy pushed his grandma's wheelchair around the mall and bought her Pepsi, steadying the straw as she drank from it. One summer, he and James earned $90 mowing lawns, and Jeremy handed it all over to a woman begging at the Kmart. Whatever Lucinda and Aunt Jolene were teaching him, he was getting it.

As he got older, Lucinda had one rule: no drinking and driving. It was the Christmastime, '59, in her. If the boys had friends over for beer, she'd lock the gate. "We'd have 30 people sleeping in our yard," James says. On weekends, she'd watch Jeremy play linebacker and flanker at Ada (Okla.) High School, but she dreaded the collisions. "It'll kill me if he breaks his neck," she'd say. More Christmastime, '59.

The summer after high school, Jeremy sprouted to 6'5" and started at tight end for Northeastern Oklahoma A&M. He knew it was get noticed or get a 9-to-5 job, so he was irritable all year. When he dropped a pass, he bit his tongue until it bled. After a playoff defeat, he ate dirt so he'd remember what losing tasted like.

He transferred to Miami the next year, and his teammates called him Country because of his Ada twang. He didn't care. He was all football, refusing even to go to South Beach that first season on campus. His second season, he caught 40 balls and Miami won the national title, but he says the team stopped throwing to him so he'd have to come back the next year. "Not true," says Miami coach Larry Coker. "But that's Jeremy. If he catches 100, he's gonna want 150."

He turned pro anyway, assuming Dallas -- who needed a tight end -- would take him eighth. When the Cowboys chose Oklahoma safety Roy Williams, Shockey craved payback. "I wanted to kill them," Jeremy says. "I wanted to run over everyone on the team. Jerry Jones -- I wanted to run him over and step on his face."

The Giants, who selected him 14th, gave him the chance, twice a year. Lucinda hugged him tight that day, and before he flew to JFK, she urged him to have the fun she never had. She told him his job came first, but that he was only young once, and he should enjoy every nook and cranny of the big bad city.

It was Christmastime, '59, again.

Shockey bought a townhouse in Hoboken, near the Lincoln Tunnel, for easy access to Manhattan. But was New York ready for him? Ready for a celebrity who rotates three pair of jeans, whose favorite song is "Stairway to Heaven," who wears a Doors T-shirt and a backward baseball cap to China Club?

His new teammates didn't buy in right away. He held out for five days, and when he tried to report on the night of the day he agreed to terms, his driver couldn't find the team's training complex in Albany. "The dude only had one eyeball, man," Shockey says.

They spent the night at a rest stop, so Shockey was in a foul mood at the team dinner the next night. When linebacker Brandon Short ordered him up on a chair to sing his college fight song, the grumpy rookie hesitated. One thing led to another, and soon Short was diving for Shockey. The two went at it, fracturing a cafeteria table in the process. Several defensive players rushed in, but not one offensive player budged ("I was eating,'' guard Rich Seubert says, jokingly). Shockey didn't care. He'd once fought two juco teammates in the same day; he could handle this. "Afterward, we were leaving, and B. Short's like, 'You'll respect us,'" Shockey says. "And I'm like, 'F--- you. I ain't respecting anyone.' We almost went at it again."

Coach Jim Fassel was giddy. For years he'd seen his offense tiptoe around his defense, an offense that, according to center Chris Bober, "always felt like the team's Achilles' heel." Fassel had brought in Kerry Collins and Tiki Barber, but neither was ornery enough. So when Fassel saw Shockey with a fistful of Short's shirt, he said to himself, "My man has arrived."

It took one game for everyone else to agree. In the Hall of Fame Game, the big tight end bowled over three Texans on a 48-yard postcatch run that got even Short whooping. "No one f---ed with me again," Shockey says.

Before long, he had brought the team together. The defense was standing to watch the offense now, and that hadn't happened since the Y.A. Tittle years. In the '80s, Phil Simms and his crew had their moments, but LT always lorded over them. No one lorded over Shockey, and no one had a higher Q rating. The rookie quickly had deals with Steve Madden and Casio. For Christmas, he gave everyone a watch. "They were free," Shockey says. "Don't make me out to be a saint."

On the field, the season turned when Fassel took over the play-calling and began hurrying passes to Shockey. The Giants averaged 31.5 points over the final six games (including their playoff loss), and the whole time Shockey was hopping on a bum toe he'd hurt in October. That's why, 74 catches later, the team adored him. What other rookie could get away with telling injured vets to get out of the training room and practice?

He lifted weights after games. He told teammates, "I play better pissed off." He left paychecks uncashed in his cluttered locker. He went on radio to call the Eagles secondary overrated, then backed it up, catching an alley-oop over Pro Bowler Brian Dawkins that helped the Giants into the playoffs. "I'll never forget a line by Buzzie Bavasi of the Dodgers," Giants GM Ernie Accorsi says. "He said, 'My knees weakened twice in my life: when I walked into the Sistine Chapel, and when I saw Koufax.' That's how I feel about Shockey."

How does the league office feel about Shockey? Either they take his money or they roll their eyes. With Shockey, it's always something.

A flying helmet. Shockey says the league warned him to find a tighter fit, and his reply was, "I can't help it if they rip the sum**** off." Asked to clarify, he says, "I'm running over people, so they try to pull my helmet, pull my hair, spit on me. And the league wants to fine me for my helmet coming off? If my jersey's untucked, it's $5,000. I wore a Titleist hat, and they tried to fine me $10,000. The NFL is a scam, and I think they give me a hard time because I won't back down."

The comments on Stern. He told Stern he wouldn't tolerate gays in the locker room, and when he didn't rescind, it made headlines. "I don't want to get into the gay thing again," he says. "But after that, defensive guys started calling me Long-Haired Faggot in piles. I'd say, 'Oh, that's original.' In Arizona the whole crowd's going, 'Shockey's gay!' What am I gonna do, fight 'em all? Shoot, I'd love to be on Stern every day. I'm a small-town guy. Howard Stern, that's like meeting the president."

The cup of ice. In the wild-card game at San Francisco, Shockey was mugged on a first-quarter pass and got a no-call. Out came his middle finger. "One of their defensive backs came up and was like, 'No white guy's gonna catch a pass on me like that.' I'm like, 'It doesn't matter what color you are, man.' That's like saying, 'No black guy's gonna pass me on the road.' So I flipped him off. I get to the sideline and I'm ticked at how we're playing and about the slur. So I got a cup of melting ice and threw it. I wasn't picking anyone out. I didn't even know it went in the stands."

The ice nailed two boys, who started crying. Shockey says he heard that the cops wanted to arrest him. The Giants PR staff offered the family an autographed ball and a locker room visit. "We blow a 38-14 lead, I drop a TD pass and I'm pissed,'' Shockey says. "And the father of these kids walks in the locker room like he's my best friend. His kids are looking at me like I'm God. I sign balls for 'em, I apologize, give 'em hats, I'm nice. And he bashes me the next day in the paper, says that they need to make an example out of me. So the league fined me five grand. The league, dude, is a joke."

Before Shockey got back on the team bus that day, his cell phone rang. It was Lucinda. She asked if it was true about the ice and the crying boys, and she told him he'd better give a real Oklahoma apology. (He told her he had.) Now, she promises her boy won't be throwing ice again.

But New York likes guys who throw ice. After the season, Shockey was getting up to 15 grand an hour to do meet-and-greets in the city. He is a VIP everywhere he goes: China Club, Scores, Metallica shows. "The guy has more male groupies than anyone I've seen," says New York pal Matt Pact, a.k.a. Matty Matt. Shockey has partied with Kid Rock, Carson Daly, Ashton Kutcher, Jack Osbourne, Limp Bizkit and Phish. And it was George Maloof who got him that room on the 51st floor in Vegas -- and on the Sacramento bench for a Kings-Lakers game. Says Maloof, "Chris Webber told Jeremy, 'Go in there and cover Shaq.'"

Shockey's entourage is equalled only by his harem. The first was some girl who sent him a half-dozen birthday cards during his first training camp -- "She was only a five," Shockey says, dismissively. Soon he was being set up with Mark Gastineau's daughter, Brittny. "I wanted to tell him, 'Have her home by 10,'" says the former Jet. After every game, even if the Giants' charter returns in the wee hours, Shockey hits Manhattan. "Can't sleep half your life away," he says.

He was spotted getting cozy with Tara Reid at a Chili Peppers concert but, according to Matt, he wanted nothing to do with her. At the Super Bowl, he spent time with Kitana Baker, the brunette who strips down in the Miller Lite commercial. Contrary to reports, Shockey says Britney Spears did not blow him off when they bumped into each other at a New York restaurant. He's put in time at the Playboy Mansion and was pictured in the June issue of Playboy chatting up a Playmate.

"What, you want me to give up on life and get married?" Shockey asks. "I realize this wouldn't be happening if I wasn't playing in New York. And I know if I do something bad -- if I get pulled over drunk -- New York will turn on me. But I haven't been bad. The worst thing I do is get a couple of girls and a couple of drinks -- or 15. But it's not like I'm gonna drink and drive.'' And that's the Lucinda in him. Funny how she's still in there. Whenever Shockey goes out partying, the first thing he does is hand Matty Matt the keys to his Hummer H2. Because, in the battle for Jeremy Shockey's soul, Christmastime, '59, always wins. "Man, one bad car wreck, one bad injury, one bad anything, and it's over," he says. "Everybody talks about me and Broadway Joe and how I can run the city like he did. But I know I wouldn't be here if not for football. I don't do drugs, I do football."

So, Mara and the Giants will just have to trust him. At least they know him now. They know how he works out with the offensive linemen at 6:30 a.m., no matter how late he's been out in the Village. They know Fassel has to tell him to stop running twice a day, because he's afraid his star will overtrain. They know he says of the upcoming season: "Whoever tackles me low is getting a broken bone." They know he's just lopped off two inches of his hair. They know he's turned down cameos in rap videos and movies because "I gotta get a Super Bowl ring on my finger first." They know he eats six meals a day, and that he's a vitamin freak and that, push comes to shove, he won't go near Howard Stern.

The Giants trust him enough now that, in April, they asked him if they should draft his former Miami teammate, defensive tackle William Joseph. "The Haitian Sensation? Of course," Shockey told them. "I like the guy. He's Creole. He speaks French. I speak French too."

Shaawwwk-eeeeee knows French?

"Yep," he says. "Ménage à trois."

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...