Publish date:

The Revenge of Jeremy Shockey Or, how a fatherless boy from Oklahoma poured his rage into football, stuck it to doubting coaches, made himself into the most explosive young player in the NFL and became the toast of New York


For years the two brothers waited. Their father's absence sat in
the house like some godawful heirloom, a piece of Shockey family
history everyone had learned to avoid. It wasn't even that hard
to pull off: Avert your eyes long enough, ignore a big, ugly
fact day after day, and soon you can act as if it never existed.
The brothers didn't ask about their father, and their mother
didn't bring him up. She had left her husband when Jeremy was
three and James was four. They lived in a patch of Oklahoma
beloved by oilmen and ranchers and few others. They kept on. ¶
The boys waited. They took to pounding each other as brothers
often do, with Jeremy always the worse for it. She wondered if
the boys hated each other; they were best friends, of course.
The father was a no one. He never phoned and never visited, so
that's what she called him: an absolute no one. When the boys
were old enough, she told them, Apparently he doesn't want
anything to do with you. They didn't cry. They absorbed the
truth like little men.

Still, they waited. But it wasn't because the boys--teenagers now
and still growing--nursed every abandoned kid's fantasy: tears, a
hug, Christmas mornings together. No. It was all about that
moment of impact: Who's going to get to the door first? That's
what they wondered. When he came back, which one would swing open
the door and take the first measure of his dark hair and
too-strange, too-familiar features? Who would be the lucky one?
Which brother would have the honor of smashing his father's face?

Jeremy Shockey dreams of mayhem. He sees himself making catches
no one has ever made--behind the back, one-handed, with defenders
draped all over him. He envisions himself running over people and
maiming them, he says, "hitting them until their bones crush."
This comes as no surprise. Anyone who saw the New York Giants'
rookie tight end barrel through the NFL last season could feel
the joy he took from inflicting punishment.

"People pay money to watch people get hurt," Shockey says.
"They're looking to win, but you ask nine out of 10 people and
they'll say, 'I'd rather see Jeremy Shockey run over somebody and
break his arm or leg than see him catch a touchdown.' They pay
all that hard money for their seats? I'm going to give them what
they want." He'll enjoy it too. "That's what excites me," he

This is not the usual mind-set of an offensive player, but then
Shockey doesn't fit many of the game's modern molds. At 6'5", 252
pounds, with 4.64 speed in the 40, he's a wide receiver in a
tight end's body--except that most wide receivers will do
anything to avoid contact. Shockey seeks it like a linebacker.
"He hunts people," says Giants quarterback Kerry Collins. But in
an era in which opponents share agents and vacations and greet
each other after games like lost soul mates, no linebacker so
openly treats football as life's best chance to exact revenge.

Before playing against the Giants on Dec. 22, Indianapolis Colts
safety David Gibson said Shockey was "just another player" and
not as good as Kansas City Chiefs tight end Tony Gonzalez. On the
first play of the second quarter Shockey caught a pass and
leveled Gibson. "I wanted to kill the dude," Shockey says. "I saw
him, and I ran right over him. I love proving people wrong."

In the Giants' final game of the regular season, against
Philadelphia, Shockey taunted the Eagles' All-Pro safety, Brian
Dawkins, on behalf of Giants wide receiver Ike Hilliard, whose
season had been ended by a savage hit from Dawkins two months
earlier. Then, after he outjumped Dawkins for a touchdown catch,
Shockey snarled, "I got you this time!"

In the ensuing days San Francisco 49ers linebacker Julian
Peterson baited Shockey in the runup to their first-round playoff
showdown by saying, "He'll get frustrated and then blow a couple
of plays." Early in the second quarter Shockey hauled down a pass
from Collins, flattened 49ers safety Zack Bronson and began
rolling to what seemed a sure touchdown. He had only to sprint
right to score. Instead, like a bull seeing red, he spied
Peterson at the one-yard line, veered left and buried his head in
Peterson's side. He didn't score. He didn't care.

"Everybody who's ever done anything bad to me, anything that ever
went wrong, I try to take it out on somebody--every game,"
Shockey says. "It's like when you see Michael Jordan's highlights
and your hair sits up on your arms? I'm like that the whole game.
I feel the hair on my arms, the hair on the back of my neck
standing up, and my heart's beating 100 miles an hour. I couldn't
picture myself doing anything else. I'm not out there just doing
my job. I take everything personally. A guy beat me up five years
ago? If I find his ass, I'll get him back."

It has been a long time since the NFL, which lays an increasingly
thick corporate veneer over an endeavor rife with passion and
pain, has seen a player like Shockey. "Yeah," he says, "people
compare me to that guy ... uh ... Butka?" Good enough: It's no
reach to say that Shockey's a combination of storied Chicago
Bears meat eaters Mike Ditka and Dick Butkus, the respective
standards for throwback tight end and linebacker. Too big for
safeties to handle, too fast for linebackers, too cocky for every
opposing crowd, the 22-year-old Shockey caught 74 passes for 894
yards and a Pro Bowl berth last season. But those numbers hardly
capture the helmet-tossing, expletive-spewing persona he brought
to the field. Shockey's jersey is the No. 1 Giants seller in the
New York City area because no other player so perfectly combines
fury and glee.

"Guys over [in Hawaii] were like, What is wrong with him? Is he
out of his mind?" says Giants defensive end Michael Strahan, who
accompanied Shockey to the Pro Bowl. "But he loves what he does.
He has a passion for it. There are not too many guys you can
truly say that about. What people see is the real Jeremy Shockey,
not someone faking it for attention. He wants to throw the ball
in the stands because, hey, he's excited. If you're a purist,
you're not going to like it. If you're on the opposing team,
you're not going to like it. But if you're on our team, you're
going to love it."

Four years ago Shockey was just another teenager in the teenage
uniform--baggy shorts, baseball cap on backward, scraggly
beard--watching NFL games and all the beer commercials in
between, just an obscure tight end at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M,
wondering what it would be like to play at that level and be in a
place totally unlike Miami, Okla., a place where constant parties
and half-dressed women actually exist. Now here it is, June 2003,
and he's still wearing the uniform, but everything else has
changed. Blond hair flows down his neck. "Last night? It was an
opening party for this club, a strip club but a real nice one,"
he says. "I wanted to go so bad because I know the girls who work
there. I was like, Man, I gotta go."

But he didn't. No, Jeremy Shockey, whose life has come to
resemble a beer commercial on endless loop, isn't going soft.
It's just that, well, he has spent most of this off-season in a
whirlwind of partying--hitting strip joints, losing in Atlantic
City and winning in Las Vegas, squiring Playmates, doing
everything a 22-year-old American man handed the golden combo of
celebrity, money and youth would do, given half a chance. The E!
network should do a special on him: Wild On! Jeremy Shockey.
There was that three-day binge hanging with Kid Rock and Pamela
Anderson in Puerto Rico, then a trip on a booze-and-babe-stocked
private jet out to Vegas with a pack of new friends. "Great time,
for three days," Shockey says. "That's what I'm looking for: a
great time." But no, not last night. Shockey and the Giants are
smack in the middle of minicamp at the Meadowlands, and, well,
Shockey learned a few lessons last season.

More than once, he had hit practice after partying two days in a
row, and it had hurt. "You got to pace yourself," he says.
"Everybody's inviting me to parties. I can't say yes to
everything, and I can't say no to everything. I've got to at
least try everything once."

"Shockey!" Giants owner Wellington Mara shouted upon seeing him
on the day minicamp opened. "I've been reading about you in all
the papers." Who hasn't? There was the item about his dating
starlet Tara Reid, and the one about his hitting on singer
Britney Spears and getting rejected. Friends from Oklahoma
started calling after that one: "You got dissed by Britney?

Shockey, grinning, says it wasn't so. "I wasn't trying to get
her," he says. "I was with another girl. If I hadn't been with
the girl, I probably would've tried to get Britney, and I
probably would've gotten dissed. So, uh, I guess they've got a
point there."

Derek Jeter might have toned down his nightclubbing this summer,
but Shockey, working out of his West New York, N.J., condo
overlooking the Hudson River, has picked up the slack.
Photographers are hunting him in nightspots across Manhattan;
Shockey just missed a paparazzi moment when, in the middle of a
lap dance, he deftly ducked his head behind the dancer. The last
time a New York bachelor partook so ravenously, so openly, of the
Manhattan buffet, Joe Namath was wearing a fur coat and panty

"What's tonight? Wednesday?" Shockey says. "A couple of good
parties tonight."

That he says this, knowing the Giants have voiced mild concern
about his leisure pursuits, is part of Shockey's charm. He is
perfectly aware that what he says and does runs contrary to every
front-office instinct. But he also knows that Giants general
manager Ernie Accorsi, coach Jim Fassel and Mara--maybe Mara most
of all--see Shockey's on-field emotion and off-field carousing as
a package that might not tolerate tampering. Shockey knows, too,
that his crude, funny, unrepentantly male outlook appeals to a
core NFL constituency that has no interest in Kurt Warner's
charitable works. Shockey isn't about saying the right things
("Are they real or fake?" he asks of the breasts of one NBA
star's wife. "I'm going to the game tomorrow night. I'll ask her
straight up") or acting responsibly. He is about saying dopey
things on Howard Stern and thumbing through lad magazines; he's
about physical toughness and mean motives, about all the
deliciously tawdry rewards bestowed on anyone in his position
carefree enough to embrace them.

Shockey's dream car? He didn't grow up with a Bentley fixed in
his sights. He grew up watching bad television and wondering what
it would be like to crash through the fourth wall and hang with
The Dukes of Hazzard. Less than a year after he signed his
five-year, $8.5 million contract with the Giants, Shockey got an
exact replica of the Dukes' car: that 1969 Dodge Charger
christened the General Lee, complete with the ridiculously
overpowered engine and the Confederate flag on the roof. He might
get rid of the flag because, he says, "everybody knows I'm not
racist"--then again, he might not get rid of it. All that's left
to put the fantasy to bed is to find one Daisy Duke.

"That's all I'm looking for!" Shockey says to a reporter. "So if
you're out there and reading this article? Call this man and get
my number from him."

But don't buy the hick shtick completely. Shockey had the grades
and test scores to play Division I-A ball out of high school;
he's got his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, calling every 20 minutes
about a business issue Shockey wants nailed. ("I told him I was
going to fire him," Shockey says, "but I'm not going to. Drew's
the best at what he does.") And Shockey's well aware that he's a
target for every con man and baby-mama seeking a sap with a full
wallet. He had a girlfriend for two years and says he never once
had unprotected sex with her.

"It's the Southern accent that gets them," Shockey says. "Every
girl I talk to asks, 'Where you from?' 'The South. O-kla-homa.'
'That's sooo cute.' I see what they're trying to do. A guy acting
like he's my friend, he's buying me stuff? I see what he
ultimately wants. I see through every one of them."

He can even, in the early-morning party hours, see all the damage
he's doing to himself. Shockey doesn't know much about the last
golden-haired New York icon from Oklahoma, about Mickey Mantle or
any of the other stars who drank their way across Manhattan and
ended up tragic. But if anything is going to save Shockey from
the life being dangled before him, it's the fact that he is
already starting to worry about it.

"If I'm on a three-day drinking binge, partying hard, I'm pretty
good about saying, What the f---am I doing?" he says. "I feel so
damn guilty, I can barely sleep at night. All I'm thinking is, I
can't wait till I get home because I'm going to kill myself to
get back in shape. After I went to Puerto Rico on my first
vacation after the season, I tried to kill myself for the Pro
Bowl. Then I go out to Vegas the first time, and I'm like, Aw,
that won't happen again. But I'm telling you: I found myself
waking up at four o'clock in the morning, doing push-ups and
sit-ups half drunk. I feel so guilty. I feel like I'm doing my
body so bad."

It was never a world of men. For Lucinda Shockey, men were a
mystery, men left, men destroyed her family. In 1959, when
Lucinda was two years old, she and her two sisters were in the
backseat of a car traveling on a Southern California highway when
a drunken driver forced them to hurtle into a tractor-trailer
from behind. The girls' mother, Evylene Pendley, was sitting in
the passenger seat and snapped her neck. The driver of their car,
a friend of Evylene's, walked away. The girls were uninjured.
While Evylene spent the next three years in rehab, learning to
live as a quadriplegic, the girls were split up. Lucinda went to
live with her dad near Los Angeles; Connie, 14, and Jolene, 8,
went to live with an aunt about two hours away. When Evylene was
released from rehab in 1962, she and the girls moved to her
native Oklahoma; Dad stayed in California, though he and Lucinda
kept in touch.

Connie had cerebral palsy. That left Jolene, all of 11, and
five-year-old Lucinda to run the household. They had to feed
their mother, hold her drinking cup, wake up twice a night to
turn her over. Evylene never complained. Every time the girls
felt held down by fate, they needed just to look at Evylene's
paralyzed figure to know they had nothing to cry about. One day
Lucinda came home from high school to find that her mom had
checked herself into a nursing home. You've got to live your
life, Evylene told her, and I will not hold you back. Growing up,
Jeremy and James visited their grandmother often, combed her
hair, held the cup to her lips. They learned too: You didn't moan
about the weight life laid on you. You kept on.

Jeremy swears: He never drinks and drives. He learned all he
needed to know from the women in his life. Father figures? He had
none. Sure, Jolene's husband helped when he could, but there was
no man setting the tone for Jeremy and James, no coach, no Big
Brother. Jeremy had little respect for male authority; if a ref
made a bad call in a junior high basketball game, "I'd get the
ball and roll it all the way down the court and make his ass run
and get it," he says. There was his mother and Aunt Jolene, and
that's all. "I got here all by myself," he says. "I've done
everything on my own."

Yes, he credits Hurricanes coach Larry Coker and tight ends coach
Rob Chudzinski and Giants tight ends coach Mike Pope with
refining his skills. He gives his offensive coordinator at
Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, Rob Green, all thanks for plugging him
into his system. But as a senior at Ada High School, Shockey was
considered too light to play major-college ball, went unrecruited
except by the likes of Wyoming and Montana State, and burned when
lesser players got free rides at big programs. His memory is full
of slights he cultivates like poison ivy. There's Ada High coach
Gary McBroom, who, Shockey says, didn't lift a finger to get him
a scholarship. ("He didn't qualify academically until late in his
senior year because he hadn't taken the ACT," McBroom says.
"Second, he was at that in-between stage. He wasn't a 4.4 wide
receiver, he was a 205-pound tight end.") And there's
Northeastern Oklahoma coach Dale Patterson, who, Shockey claims,
held him back by not running enough plays for him and then
threatened to ask the NCAA to investigate whether Miami had
recruited him illegally. ("I never threatened him," Patterson
says. "We did check with the NCAA to make sure Miami could
recruit him. Nobody was sure he was eligible to leave. Everybody
found out that he was.")

But no one draws Shockey's ire more than Bob Stoops. The Oklahoma
coach ignored Shockey when he was a Sooners-crazy high school
senior, then came calling after Shockey put on 35 pounds and had
a breakout freshman season at NEO. Stoops, like everyone but the
compliance-sensitive folks at Miami, hadn't realized soon enough
that Shockey didn't need to stay in junior college for two years;
according to Shockey, when Stoops found out that he intended to
transfer to Coral Gables, the coach told him he'd never play a
down. Shockey has mocked him ever since. His feelings about the
man can be summed up thusly: "F---off, a------," Shockey says.
"Next time don't be so dumb." ("I've never told a kid that he'd
never play a down anywhere," Stoops says. "I told him Miami had
plenty of players, and his opportunities would probably be better

Shockey's stance is ungracious, but then, being proved correct
time after time breeds arrogance. This is Shockey's small
miracle: Despite a broken home, despite the football programs
that showed no interest, despite his lack of a mentor, he
developed a bulletproof instinct for the right move. He told
college recruiters that he would put on weight, but they didn't
listen. Going against home-state pride and every coach in
Oklahoma telling him he should stay home, Shockey left for Miami,
the nation's most successful football program, sure he could
play. And when he decided to skip his senior year and enter an
NFL draft thick with tight ends, he again was told he should stay
put. "I felt it was better for him," says Coker. "His response
was, 'Coach, once they see what I can do, they'll like me better
than any of those guys.'"

Shockey knew before anyone else: No college tight end ran cleaner
routes or had better hands than he did. No one wanted the ball
more; Shockey was legendary at Miami for busting into huddles and
snapping at the All-Americas surrounding him, "You're all stupid.
Nobody else is going to catch it! Give me the ball!" He couldn't
stand it if he wasn't improving. "He's the king of questions:
How'm I doing? How do I look? Do I look good?" says Hurricanes
running back Jarrett Payton. "I always told him, 'You're good
enough.' But he never thinks he's good enough."

And Shockey knew that no one else could deliver his speed and
power while enduring the battering experienced by NFL tight ends.
Shockey played a full year in high school with a broken knuckle
and wrist, lifting weights one-handed, putting off surgery
because he didn't want to scare off colleges. He prepared for
Miami by running a one-man camp of grueling workouts, lifting
twice and running three times daily in the Oklahoma heat,
vomiting and collapsing most days on the final sprint back to his
driveway. He started his sophomore season slowly, then limped off
the field with a sprained right knee in the first quarter against
Florida State. He stood on the sideline as the feeling sank in:
I'm a failure. But with less than two minutes to play, with Miami
down 24-20 and starting its final drive, coach Butch Davis turned
to Shockey and asked if he wanted back in. "I'm thinking, I
f------can't go in," Shockey says. "But in my heart something
split, and I said, 'I'll do it,' and I'm thinking, Why'd I say
that? I can hardly run. Let somebody else do it."

That one moment made him. Shockey caught two passes to keep the
drive alive, then pulled down one more and smashed into the end
zone for the win. "If I didn't make that one play? I'd still be
in school right now," Shockey says. Coaches and players began
looking to him when they needed clutch plays. No one took it
personally when he demanded the ball. "People think he's being
cocky and arrogant, but he's just into the game," says Giants
receiver Daryl Jones, a teammate of Shockey's at Miami and in New
York. "He's into the game more than anybody I've ever seen."

Accorsi, the Giants' G.M., saw that too. He had flown in a
private jet to Ada before the draft, landing at an airport that
hadn't seen traffic in days. Shockey stood waiting with his back
against a truck. He took Accorsi to a famous barbecue joint and
said, "You'll never get anything like this again." He was talking
food; Accorsi was thinking Shockey. The Giants' offense--bland
and punchless--had been pushed around for years, was laughed at
even by its own defense. Accorsi wanted Shockey so badly that he
was willing, on draft day, to do something unthinkable in the
Giants universe: trade picks to move up just one slot. "He's the
sort of guy who tilts the field," Accorsi says of Shockey. "He
changes everything."

Still, no one knew what to expect when, after a short holdout,
Shockey showed up last summer, hungry and sleepless after a long
night of travel, at Giants training camp in Albany, N.Y. In
keeping with the usual rookie hazing, Giants linebacker Brandon
Short demanded before dinner that Shockey sing the Miami fight
song. Shockey said he'd like to eat first. Short insisted.
Shockey says he stood up on his chair and said, "Brandon, this is
for you," and Short flew at him. The two hit the floor. Chairs
snapped, bodies flew across tables, glasses tumbled.

Fassel helped break up the tussle, but he couldn't have been
happier. He thought, My man has arrived. My man has arrived right

Quarterback Kerry Collins led the Giants to a Super Bowl not long
ago. Tiki Barber is one of the best running backs alive. Michael
Strahan is the sack-record-setting heart and soul of the New York
defense. Mention Shockey, though, and all of them recede into the
background. The first word that comes to Hilliard's mind? "He's
the franchise," says the Giants wideout. This is not a word used
much by football players, not even about quarterbacks; it runs
counter to the game's celebration of team. Hilliard doesn't care.
"He's too good," he says of Shockey. "I call him the franchise
because of what he's done in such a short time--and he's still
learning the NFL game. Come on: 70 balls in his first year? He's
a tight end. He's the easiest target to find for the quarterback.
He's going to have a lot of opportunities to make plays. It's not
even fair."

Hilliard's right: It's unusual enough for such importance to be
attached to a tight end, no matter that Fassel swears you can't
win a Super Bowl without one. But no franchise was less likely
than New York to lay its image, its offense and its future at the
feet of so wild a child. Even in their championship years, Mara's
Giants always displayed a remote, dull efficiency, embodied by
good soldiers like Frank Gifford and Phil Simms. To see Shockey
attempt to toe that Big Blue line is comical; he couldn't do it
even if he wanted to. "He's a great athlete," Shockey says of the
Eagles' Dawkins, over whom he made that clutch catch at the end
of last season. "I'll probably never get one like that over him
again." Then Shockey rolls his eyes, leans over the tape recorder
and mouths the words I will.

But nothing Shockey did last year--expressing, on The Howard
Stern Show, his wariness of having a gay teammate; derisively
challenging the Eagles' secondary in the week before their
pivotal season-ending game; or proclaiming his intention to run
just as hot this season--has caused the Giants' brass to do
anything but speak vaguely about the need for limits and then
grin like sloppy drunks.

"Everything he's doing, you love to watch," says Mara. "He's got
a great spirit. You just wish everyone would have the same
get-up-and-go that he has."

In his 27-year career Giants trainer Ronnie Barnes has never seen
a rookie challenge the veterans as Shockey did last season. Just
days after their brawl, Short saw Shockey run over the Houston
Texans' Kevin Williams in the Hall of Fame preseason game and
fell in love. "That's what we need!" Short shouted on the

Strahan knew the Giants had something different when, during
training camp, he lined up to cover Shockey on the goal line and
Shockey caught the touchdown pass almost before Strahan could get
out of his stance. But Strahan knew they had something special
when he watched Shockey devote himself to blocking and pester
Giants defenders to show him any trick or move that could make
him better. Whenever he saw any player sitting out, Shockey
demanded to know why he wasn't practicing. No one resented the
brash rookie, because no one outworked him: This spring, on his
own, Shockey ran himself through two-a-days in Miami so brutal
that Fassel demanded he gear back.

"People don't see the Jeremy who shows up at 6:30 in the morning
every day to work out," Strahan says. "They don't see the Jeremy
who stays after practice and catches balls--or does catching
drills in the time between other drills, when everyone's on a
knee. Jeremy makes it look easy because he works at it when no
one's looking. We definitely have guys who're more competitive
now than they've been in the past. He just brought in the
attitude that I'm not going to let you beat me on any play."

"He's our bell cow," Fassel says. But as New York's mercurial
performance in its first-round playoff game in San Francisco
showed last January, following Shockey's lead has its perils. Up
24 points in the third quarter, the Giants ended up losing 39-38
in the second-biggest playoff gag in league history. Julian
Peterson was right about Shockey's tendency to get frustrated and
blow plays. Midway through the first quarter, after Shockey
complained that he had been interfered with on a pass route, he
was seen on TV flipping his middle finger as he walked off the
field. Then he sat on the bench and, without looking, fired a cup
of ice over his head into the stands behind him. The ice hit two
kids; one burst into tears, and cops asked their father if he
wanted Shockey arrested. Shockey apologized to the family in the
locker room after the game and gave the kids a signed football.
But the father ripped him in the press anyway, and Shockey was
fined $5,000 for throwing the ice (plus $5,000 for flipping the

"I'd do it all over again," Shockey says. "I feel sorry for the
kids who have to be raised by a father like that. He came in the
locker room, acted like he was my best friend, acted like nothing
happened. Then he's in the papers trashing me and saying how the
NFL needs to make an example of me. His kids have no chance in
life, because their father's going to take one little accident
and blow it up just to get himself publicity. I gave him free
balls and free hats; what do you want me to do? His kids, it
didn't hurt them. It was a cup of ice. Toughen up, you know?"

As for that nationally televised middle finger, Shockey says he
wasn't directing it at the fans. "I flipped off a player," he
says. Shockey won't give a name, but he says he was responding to
one 49er who came "up to me in my ear, when I'm walking away off
the field, [and said], 'No bleepin' white cracker bleep is gonna
catch a pass on me.'" Shockey says he got back at San Francisco
by scoring on the next series. (Not long after he flipped the
bird, Shockey outjumped safety Tony Parrish for a touchdown.)
Then things fell apart: In the third quarter Shockey dropped a
touchdown pass that would've put the Giants up 42-14, and the
49ers roared back. That mistake, he says, he forgot about the
next day. But the insult? The revenge? Shockey remembers it

All his talk about payback and bad fathers would prompt the
obvious conclusion--if you didn't know that Jeremy had a
bullheaded feistiness even before his father, Jimmy Shockey,
dropped out of his life. The boy always went straight ahead, at
full speed: After watching Superman crash through walls on TV one
day, the five-year-old Jeremy sprinted across the family garage,
slammed face-first into a wall and walked away with blood
streaming down his forehead. Throughout football, throughout
sports, throughout America there are children who were abandoned
by their fathers, but there aren't many who, in high school,
risked arrest and expulsion by hopping in a fire truck and
driving it across a parking lot merely because it was blocking
his way.

His father is the one topic that still makes Shockey squirm.
Jeremy doesn't want Jimmy Shockey getting any credit for his
success, even as an indirect source of motivation. He's an
absolute no one. "That's f------over," Jeremy says. "How I look
at it is, my mother took so much pride in raising me and my
brother, she did such a great job, there was no need to ask,
'Hey, where's our father?' He didn't opt to come back. Me and my
brother look at it like, Hey, it's his loss--not ours. Me and my
brother knew my mother was going to raise us, and we were going
to do great things. Now she's the one reaping all the benefits.
She's living like a queen." (James is studying to be a
real-estate agent.)

Told what her son has said, Lucinda can't believe it. "But it's
good that he [said it]," she says, "because he needs to." The
anger has bubbled for so long in all of them, tamped down by two
decades of silence, that when they finally speak about Jimmy, you
can almost hear steam whistling. "I despise the man," Lucinda
says, "not because the marriage didn't work out but because of
what he did to his boys." (SI was unable to reach Jimmy for

There was a time when Lucinda hoped to erase Jimmy Shockey once
and for all, wipe away the last trace of him by changing their
last name. She even told Jeremy and James of her plans. But it
would've cost $500, and Lucinda was scraping by on a
receptionist's pay. For so symbolic an act, she refused to
borrow. "It might as well have been a million dollars," she says.
"But you know ... the name suits Jeremy."

True enough. Shockey is the perfect name for what Jeremy is and
does. It's also something that maybe, just maybe, will bring his
father pain. The last few years, he half expected Jimmy to show
up sometime, somewhere. But the man didn't come. So this is
what's left: Each time Jeremy runs someone down, each time he
makes news or hits the gossip columns, he may as well be balling
up a fist and cocking his arm. It's not the sweet punch he and
his brother have waited so long to throw, but it's revenge all
the same. Somewhere, maybe, Jimmy Shockey hears that name.
Somewhere, he knows it belongs to someone rich and famous and
family, and he knows he has no more claim on it than a dead man.

"Go for it, Jeremy," James says. "Do whatever you have to do. Get
your name bigger than anybody's. And let him sit there and think
about that."

COLOR PHOTO: PHOTOGRAPH BY MICHAEL J. LEBRECHT II/1DEUCE3 DUKE OF GOTHAM Shockey's taste in wheels runs not to Benzes but to Dodges: The Dukes of Hazzard's jalopy.

COLOR PHOTO: HENNY RAY ABRAMS/AFP YOUNG RELIABLE With his speed and soft hands, Shockey caught 74 passes last year, including this playoff TD over Parrish.

COLOR PHOTO: PAUL SAKUMA/AP [See caption above]

COLOR PHOTO: BERNIE NUNEZ/AP ELECTRIC Shockey's gung-ho style fired up the Giants and rewarded the fans who celebrated his pick on Draft Day, 2002.

COLOR PHOTO: ED BETZ/AP [See caption above]

COLOR PHOTO: JOHN BARRET/GLOBE PHOTOS NIGHT CREATURE Shockey loves to party, with date Vida Guerra at a bar opening (top) and fellow fans Joumana and T.J. Kidd at a New Jersey Nets game.


COLOR PHOTO: HARRY HOW/GETTY IMAGES HURRICANE FORCE Shockey helped Miami win the national title in January '02 and (with Lucinda) went 14th in the draft.


COLOR PHOTO: JULIE JACOBSON/AP THE FUTURE OF THE NFL? Players like Shockey, a throwback, may be just what the league needs to keep fans excited.

RUNNING OVER PEOPLE and maiming them.

BUFFET, Joe Namath was wearing panty hose.

Father figures? He had none. THERE WAS NO MAN SETTING THE TONE
for Jeremy as he grew up, no coach, no Big Brother.

Watching Shockey fight a veteran at camp, Fassel thought, MY MAN

Jeremy doesn't want Jimmy Shockey getting ANY CREDIT FOR HIS
SUCCESS, even indirectly. He's an absolute no one.