With that in mind, the irreverent Shockey talked about what he considers the most troubling year of his career and what lies ahead for him, including a life as a world traveler and entrepreneur.
Shockey was limited to 12 games in his first season with the Saints.
Cole: Your buddy Plaxico Burress(notes) wrote in his book ďGiantĒ that you get hurt a lot because you fight too hard for every yard. He said you need to make what he called better ďbusiness decisionsĒ on the field to stay healthy. Your thoughts?
Shockey: I wish it was so easy as you describe. This is how Iíve always played football Ė to fight for every inch, every yard. Plaxico plays a different way. He slides. You see him make a catch and he does the baseball slide. If thatís a business decision, itís a business decision. In the middle of a play, I donít think Iíve got to slide or Iím going to get hurt.
Cole: Is this some testosterone-filled, manhood thing for you?
Shockey: Obviously, you havenít played organized sports at this high a level.
Cole: Yes, thatís obvious, but this is what Burress and other players talk about Ė saving themselves for the long haul.
Shockey: Well, I donít have that button in my head that says, ďHey, get down.Ē I wish I did. I donít. My attitude is full go, go full speed. Last year, even after I had the surgery, I wanted to be out there Ė full go Ė and play and try my best.
Cole: When you canít play at full go, how much does it hurt you?
Shockey: It hurts very bad. Itís an empty feeling thatís hard to describe. When I canít do something I love and enjoy so much, itís hard. We had this speaker come in the other day who had worked for President [George W.] Bush, and he talked about going to work in the White House. The [players] were talking to him about how he can be around these great athletes whose heads are so big they can barely walk through the door. He said, ďListen, the guys you are around, those 45 or 50 guys on a roster, they truly enjoy what theyíre doing.Ē And then we asked him, ďYouíre the CEO of a company; does everybody truly love working at your company?Ē And he said no.
Everybody in this game loves their occupation, and thatís very unique. So when you canít play Ö itís a feeling thatís really hard to describe. To me, Iíve matured a lot over the years. In some sense, itís good to sit back and watch a little, but at the same time itís hard to sit back and think, ďI havenít hurt anybody in my life, Iíve never been arrested; why is this happening to me?Ē I had a lot of those questions in my head last year. Why is this happening to me? Why did I break my leg with the Giants? Why, in my first training camp with the Saints, did I pop both the tendons in my legs?
Cole: Do you ever think about what youíre going to do to replace the feeling you get from playing when youíre done?
Shockey: I have businesses. I own [a business] in Panama. I sell art, I sell houses, a lot of things in Panama. Thatís a competitive thing for me. Whatever I do is going to be a competitive thing. I love to fish, deep-sea fish. Iíve been in a lot of tournaments in various countries. Iíve won a lot of money doing billfish tournaments.
Cole: So, youíre going to escape to Panama when you retire and weíll never see you again?
Shockey: I probably will not retire in the United States. Iíll have a home here, but I doubt Iíll retire in this country. Iím always somewhere.
Cole: So replacing the thrill of playing doesnít sound easy.
Shockey: Itís hard to explain. Because if you ask people what itís like to be sick and you canít go to work, most people would say that sucks. But in the back of their mind, theyíre thinking, ďCool, I can stay home for the day and chill.Ē In this sport, you want to be part of it. Weíre competitive people out there every day, and another thing Iíll miss most about all this is the locker room: joking around with the guys, telling stories about five years ago, girl stories, going-out stories, different experiences in your life.
Cole: So your approach is that youíre all in, every day, in this game
Shockey: I enjoy it. This year I obviously enjoy it a lot more because Iím healthy. Last year was a really hard time for me. I would say I will remember last year more than any other year Ė not all the accolades and all the awards. It will be last year more than anything in my life because of the broken leg, the trade went down, fighting back from the adversity of popping both tendons Ö
Cole: And all the negative stuff from the fans in New York?
Shockey: Thatís fine; I donít care what those people think. In my mind, I will remember last year more than any other year because of all the adversity I had to face. Coming to a new team and wanting to do so well and then getting hurt. I was thinking, These guys gave up a lot for me and I canít really do much. I probably only played six games healthy last year and I still had 50 receptions Ė no touchdowns but a ton of first downs. This year is going to be a lot different and I feel itís going to be a lot more satisfying.
Cole: So do you have a goal, some numbers in mind?
Shockey: I always have a goal, always have goals and numbers, but I donít share them with anyone except [Saints quarterback] Drew Brees(notes). Thatís it. Itís a different feeling when youíre healthy and can do things. When I was living in New York my first two or three years, you realize youíre always going to have a strain or a bruise or something thatís wrong with you, a cut on your knee or whatever. But to be truly hurt like I have been the past two [seasons] is really a hard feeling to describe. I was probably only getting like two or three hours of sleep a night.
Cole: Do you feel almost as if youíre chained up?
Shockey: I was just really depressed. It was a very depressing year, a very black, dark time in my life. Thatís why, when youíre healthy, you have to take it and come out and work every day. There are very few guys like Michael Strahan(notes) who get to go 14 or 15 years and only go on IR twice in his whole career. Granted, I only went on IR once in my career, but I have yet to play a full season. Iíve always missed one game here, one game there, two games here. Maybe if I made some business decisions like Plaxico Ė slid on this play or that play Ė I would have. I just donít think that way.
Plaxico Burressí book, ďGiantĒ, was co-authored by Jason Cole