Crazy Talk Everyone wants to know if Jeremy Shockey is out of his mind. The answer is complicated

August 17, 2003

"I've always been mouthy," Giants tight end Jeremy Shockey said
to SI back in June, understatedly kicking off one of the more
virulent outbreaks of foot-in-mouth disease in the history of
football, homophobia, New York City, Oklahoma and the whole
woolly universe of sportstalk, U.S.A. His was an
equal-opportunity, multipublication slamfest: By the time a
seemingly chastened Shockey issued his blanket apology last
Saturday, he'd lashed out at his absentee father, his high school
and junior college head coaches and Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops in
SI. He'd called Cowboys coach Bill Parcells "the homo" in New
York magazine, and in Maxim he'd disclosed that teammates had
multiple girlfriends while also offending all mathematically
inclined seekers of sexual adventure by fantasizing about "a
threesome with a mother and her two twins."

For anyone who has interviewed Shockey--and there were plenty of
us this summer--the barrage of outspokenness came as no surprise.
He possessed that rare combination of candor and rage and a
tendency to put both into words worth quoting, and he knew that
his desire to hit strip joints, booze up and score chicks won
points with the Vegas, Baby! crowd. "I see how everybody wants to
know what I do," Shockey told SI. "Everybody on our team says, 'I
went home this weekend, and everyone asked, 'Is that Shockey guy
crazy?'"

It's a question people will be asking his teammates for the
foreseeable future. The answer is complicated: Shockey grew up in
Oklahoma, poor, suspicious and sure he'd have to get what he
wanted on his own. He lives for payback, and like many Shockeys,
he doesn't consider shyness a virtue. Irate that Jeremy voiced
disdain at his father, Jimmy, for not being in his life since
childhood, Jeremy's aunt e-mailed SI last week. "I am Connie
Shockey, Jeremy's aunt, his father's baby sister also called the
biggest bitch ever," she wrote. While claiming that Jeremy's
mother, Lucinda, poisoned her sons against their father, Connie
allowed, "Jimmy might be labeled a deadbeat dad, he made a lot of
mistakes. Haven't we all?" Then she unloaded on Jeremy the way he
has unloaded on everyone else.

"You are a bitter little boy still today," Connie wrote. "You are
judgemental [sic] of people you know nothing about, from the
family that still, after all this, will always love you, to the
gays all across America you joke about. Your [sic] closed minded
[sic] to everything around you, except you. Everyone can see that
and hear it, come out of your mouth, every time it opens lately.
You don't deserve to wear the name Shockey. Take it off."

With the exception of "the homo" comment about Parcells, Shockey
has not denied any of the lambasting he dished out this summer.
During his time with SI in June, he made a point of dismissing
the Giants' attempts to rein in his behavior and blew off
criticism of his episode of gay-bashing on the Howard Stern Show
last year by saying, "Howard? If you're reading this, I want to
go back on the show. Even if the Giants ban me, I want back on."

But then that was at the height of Shockey's silly season. On
Saturday, after a 40-minute meeting with Giants coach Jim Fassel,
Shockey apologized "to my family, my friends, my teammates, to
the owners of this great organization and to my coach." Fassel
vowed to take an active role in controlling Shockey's dealings
with the press, which, according to Shockey, won't be a point of
contention. "You'll probably never hear me say an outrageous
thing again," Shockey said to the assembled media before stalking
off. "I'll probably never talk to you guys again."

For Giants fans, Shockey's new hostility toward the media is a
good sign. In his world, where revenge is fuel, the minting of a
new enemy is cause for celebration. Look for him to have another
Pro Bowl season. Expect the outrageous every step of the way.
--S.L. Price

COLOR ILLUSTRATION: ILLUSTRATION BY STEVE BRODNER

"Do mascots understand how to stand on their heads?" --MR.
MASCOT, PAGE 20

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