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No Giant Shocker


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No Giant Shocker


THE 2008 Giants draft list contains seven names and no one can be sure if it's a class to remember or forget. Still, it is not too soon to already stamp the Giants as big winners after this weekend's talent grab-bag simply because they did not trade away Jeremy Shockey.


Smartly, general manager Jerry Reese resisted the temptation to gain a prime draft pick (the Saints' second-rounder, the 40th overall selection) and kept Shockey where he belongs. A tight end position that at present is a strength with Shockey and Kevin Boss would have instantly devolved into a glaring weakness if Reese listened to those with short memories who turned on the once wildly-popular Shockey.


The bulging tattooed biceps, the flowing blond hair and all those No. 80 jerseys? How did Shockey the phenomenon become Shockey the pariah after he got hurt and the Giants hit the road and shockingly rolled to Super Bowl glory? The case to jettison Shockey is based largely on hearsay and bogus observations.


Like a spark on dry brush, the wildfire spread that Shockey is a terror around Eli Manning, that the fiery tight end browbeat the timid quarterback after every errant throw, that Shockey was a crazy man in meetings, sulking as he returned to the huddle knowing he was open with nothing to show for it.


Well, anyone who thinks of Manning shrinking around Shockey like an intimidated wimp has never spent a minute around Manning. The guy didn't suddenly grow up in frigid Green Bay or in the last two minutes of Super Bowl XLII. Eli is never going to grab Shockey's facemask and tell him to stuff it, just as Shockey is never going to quietly shrink into the background. The personalities of these two athletes could not be more different and sure, Shockey can be a pain, but players look beyond that when judging a teammate. They look to how he works and if they can count on him in the clutch.


Shockey has earned high marks in the tests that matter most. Can anyone possibly look at the running game failures without him (a dip of nearly one yard per game) and not conclude that Shockey's blocking is an under-appreciated ingredient?


Until Shockey stands up and says, "I want out,"' reports of what he told friends and confidants should be filed under "That's Shockey" bluster. No doubt following the season he told Reese he wanted to be traded. Shockey says so much and some it of even makes sense. The emotive, fly-off-the-handle Shockey is capable of eruption but usually it's harmless steam escaping his overheated engine.


The bandwagon detractors are judging Shockey by an unfair standard. Any player would have difficulty coming to grips with going down with a broken leg and then watching his team take off. Are they better without me? Do they miss me? These are perfectly normal questions for anyone. Go ask Phil Simms what was coursing through his mind as Jeff Hostetler was directing the Giants - Phil's Giants - to Super Bowl triumph.


Does he care? Shockey was instructed by his medical advisors not to attend Super Bowl XLII, as he was not far removed from surgery and on crutches. He couldn't stay away and, on his own dime, limped onto a flight, accompanied by his mother, to be with the guys in Glendale, Ariz. Shockey is not expected to be with his championship team tomorrow for the traditional ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House with President Bush, but you never know.


The best argument for trading Shockey is the fear that his best days are behind him, that the wear and tear and toll on his lower body has robbed him of his explosive speed. After six hard seasons, his long-term stock is not on the rise, but he should have at least two high-level years left in his tank. The Giants are better off with him.



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