MMQB Mailbag: How Shockey's relationship with Giants went sour
Seth of West Orange, N.J., a few long spirals from Giants Stadium, wonders what so many Giant fans and readers are thinking: How did the Jeremy Shockey thing come to this?
Seth wonders why Shockey became, in his words, "such a louse'' at the team's offseason minicamp.
Well, after spending time with Shockey at Saints camp in Jackson, Miss., on Saturday, this is my theory why he became so unhappy and got so angry at the Giants this spring: He feels he got dissed by the team at the Super Bowl, and that led to an offseason of disillusionment.
Shockey said it all began during the Giants' playoff run, when stories began circulating the Giants were better off without him after he broke his left leg Dec. 17 and was lost for the season. He hated hearing these stories. (In truth, the organization had nothing to do with those. The stories were simply writers' opinions why Eli Manning played better in the seven weeks after Shockey went out.)
Then he felt he was treated as a second-class citizen at the game, flying to the Super Bowl from Miami to Arizona on his own -- sitting in coach, in the center seat of a three-seat row -- and stayed at a different hotel from his teammates. "They didn't even allow me to stay at the team hotel,'' Shockey said. "They paid for the hotel, but it was across town. Then I had to go there, on one leg, in a cab to pick up my Super Bowl tickets.''
The team is not required to pay for injured players' flights to the game, and several of the injured players who were not going to play in the game flew out gratis on the team's family charter in mid-week. Because Shockey was flying from Miami, he had to pay his own way.
After the game, Shockey continued to feel apart from the team. "I got no phone calls about a parade. Hell, I didn't even know there was a parade,'' he said.
And so he entered the offseason with a chip on his shoulder about the Giants -- and things continued to simmer because the Giants kept telling him he was set as a long-term member of the team, yet he kept reading he was on the verge of being traded to the Saints.
In truth, here's what happened: The Giants did not leak they were in trade talks with the Saints, talks that were hot in the days before the draft, with New Orleans offering a second-round pick in 2008 and a fifth-rounder in 2009. But they didn't deny the talks either, because they were true.
The Giants, on draft weekend, felt strongly about trying to get Shockey back in the mental fold when they finally got a chance to have face-to-face contact. But Shockey was in no mood to make peace, and pleaded with club president John Mara to get him out of New York. He had gotten himself so angry at the team there was no turning back. That's why the Saints finally were able to acquire him.
"I really have no hard feelings,'' he told me. "I loved my years with the Giants. I loved [late owner] Wellington Mara. I really appreciate the chance [former GM] Ernie Accorsi and coach [Jim] Fassel gave me, and [president] John Mara is a class man. Tom Coughlin is a wonderful man, a great coach. I had six wonderful years there. I hold no animosity toward anyone there. I'm just happy I get to make a fresh start, and the Giants should be happy, too -- they got a couple of good draft picks out of this.''
Not sure Shockey really believes the "great coach'' line about Coughlin. But it's impressive how high a road he's taken since the trade.
Finally, here's my take on why it happened this way: Because it had to. The Giants probably wouldn't have been forced to trade Shockey had he not been the distraction he turned into during the spring.
Now onto your questions:
PLEASE TELL ME YOU'RE KIDDING. From Paul S., of Walnut Creek, Calif.: "Why are the Packers so afraid of Brett Favre playing for Minnesota? Or rather, why are they so willing to publicly display their fear of Favre playing for Minnesota? If they really believe that Aaron Rodgers is their quarterback of the future, Packers management should exhibit confidence in their decision and faith in their new QB. All this hand-wringing about him going to a rival team makes them look weak and insecure. They sound like one of those pathetic guys who wants to break up with his girlfriend, but won't do it because he's afraid of who she might date next."
You're joking, right? You're telling me that you think it'd be smart for Ted Thompson to allow an MVP-caliber player with three years left on his contract to go play for the Packers' archrivals -- at the position this archrival has a significant need? And you'd allow him to go without compensation? I'm glad you're not the general manager of my team.
INTERESTING POINT. From Jamison Scheeres, of Charlotte, N.C.: "Re: Caleb Campbell. I'm a 2001 graduate of the US Air Force Academy. Yes, Lt. Campbell got the short end of the stick from the Army, but the policy that allowed him to get to that point was contradictory to Department of Defense policy from the start, caused quite an uproar among the service academies, and reversing their stance was really their only course of action. Lt. Campbell has been extremely classy by not complaining or griping about his unfortunate situation. The Army's policy was patently unfair to athletes at other service academies that might have a chance in the NFL (Chad Hall, Drew Fowler, etc.)."
Well, I suppose your point is valid. I guess my argument with this was about consistency. The Department of Defense set one policy, used that policy to get a lot of positive press around the time of the draft, and then changed it on the verge of Campbell's NFL dream being realized.
WATCH THE WIRES AND WAIT. From T-Bone, of Cleveland, Ohio: "If the Browns are serious about making a playoff run this year, what should they do at cornerback, where they obviously lack any depth?"
There's not much they can do now, except watch the waiver wire for players they remotely like and hope to get cut this summer. As of today, it's likely they'd open with Eric Wright and Brandon McDonald starting, with Terry Cousin the nickel. It's a bad situation, potentially, and it's something GM Phil Savage will try to fix in August, but he knows whatever he does it won't be enough to fix it. The bottom line is this: The Browns couldn't fix everything on a bad defense in one offseason. They just hope they've fixed enough to win their division.
SMART QUESTION, DON. From Don Owens, of Manteo N.C.: "Every year sportswriters submit stories about how Team A's line had a 'good' camp, or Team C's line had a so-so camp and then we progress into the season. I'd like to know how one defines a 'good' camp, or a 'so-so' camp or a 'bad' camp? I mean, what are you looking for?"
I look for a team practicing hard. I look for a quarterback throwing the ball well and throwing it accurately. I look for a defense without a lot of guys limping. I look to hear players optimistic and not rolling their eyes. I never, to be honest, place a huge amount of stock in how a team looks in July, except with unproven players like Jason Campbell who play superbly when I see them. That's important, a guy with a new coach in a new scheme looking great.