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New Orleans Saints tight end Jeremy Shockey relishes opportunity to play in Super Bowl

Posted on Jan 26, 2010 in Local Issues, Sports

By John DeShazier, The Times-Picayune January 26, 2010, 3:02AM This whole Super Bowl thing isn't completely foreign to New Orleans Saints tight end Jeremy Shockey. He already has been a member of a team that played for the NFL championship, a team that actually won Super Bowl XLII in an epic upset. shock.jpgTed Jackson/The Times-PicayuneHobbled New Orleans Saints tight end Jeremy Shockey congratulates running back Pierre Thomas after he scored on a 38-yard pass from Drew Brees against the Vikings in the first quarter of the NFC championship game Sunday at the Superdome. But the similarities cease there. Shockey's team in 2007, the New York Giants, played in that game. Shockey, then an injured tight end, only attended the game. Reportedly, after a falling out with management, he flew to the game in Arizona on his own dime, wasn't allowed to stay in the team hotel and watched from the press box because he wasn't allowed on the Giants sideline. His relationship with the Giants had deteriorated, and Shockey was traded to New Orleans in exchange for second- and fifth-round draft picks before the 2008 season, which is why he's bordering on giddy in anticipation of battling the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLIV on Feb. 7 in Miami. "It's completely different," Shockey said. "I'll be playing in this game, unlike the last one. It's a surreal feeling. It still hasn't hit me. God works in mysterious ways, man. It's a blessing to be a part of this organization and this team. A lot of hard work has paid off. "Some things happened (with the Giants), but I'm not dwelling on that. I'm dwelling on the fact that we'll be in Miami, my adopted city, and we're all excited about that in this locker room." Few, of course, are as excitable as Shockey. He is the peerless towel waver, willing smack talker (to opponents), excitable playmaker. The chance to do all of that, and more, for the Saints in Super Bowl XLIV -- just two seasons after the four-time Pro Bowler was labeled a pariah in New York -- well . . . there's no way the thought can't create a smile. "I think it's certainly a goal of his to get back in this game and to be a participant rather than to have to watch it, as tough as that is," New Orleans Coach Sean Payton said. "But people forget how important he was to that team the year they won the Super Bowl. "When you go back to look at the early two-thirds of the season that year before his injury, he had a lot of big plays. It's just hard, I'm sure, for any player when you can't finish the season -- and then you see the team that you've played for having success, and you can't be a part of that. I think that is difficult for any player." You have to figure that even if Shockey can't play against the Colts (he has been slowed by a knee he injured against the Arizona Cardinals in an NFC divisional playoff game, and he didn't do himself a favor while playing against the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC championship game), the Saints will welcome him on the team plane, in the team hotel and on the team's sideline. "We'll see (with the injury)," he said. "We've got a lot of time. Two weeks in the NFL is like two years for a person. We'll take it day by day and be smart about it, (and) get an early start on (looking at) our opponent. There's no doubt in my mind that everyone in this locker room knows how much is at stake. We didn't come this far just to make a trip to Miami to get a suntan. "I felt like a pogo stick out there on one leg, but I have no doubt in my mind it'll be a lot better in two weeks. It's probably a three- or four-week injury, but there was no way I was going miss that game. There's no way I'm going to miss the next one, either." No, you figure Shockey is going to do everything he can to be on the field this time. That would benefit the Saints, whose offense isn't quite the same when he isn't on the field. There's a reason New Orleans acquired Shockey, who caught 48 passes for 569 yards and three touchdowns during the regular season. Simply, he was an upgrade and remains the preferred choice. No one knows better what Shockey can do than Payton, who was an assistant with the Giants from 1999-2002, the last three years as offensive coordinator. Shockey was drafted by New York in 2002 and caught 74 passes for 894 yards and two touchdowns as a rookie. No one appreciates more than Shockey what Payton offers as an offensive mind. "I knew it would work (in New Orleans) because I've worked with Sean before," Shockey said. "He believed in me and drafted me coming out of college. I'd seen the Saints on offense a number of times, and I'd seen (quarterback) Drew (Brees) play a number of years in this league. "I knew it was going to work. It was just a matter of me staying healthy and being able to be on the field and help the team win. Sean taught me, when I came into the league, about mismatches and about the things that defenses have to think about. Just the personnel matchup. He's the best at that. He instilled that in my brain at an early age in the league, and I'm just happy that he taught me that." Together, they'll learn what it's like to experience the Super Bowl, not just attend it. "It's going to be fun," Shockey said about returning to Miami, where he played college ball. "But first and foremost, we're going there to win the Super Bowl. I'm not going there to have a party. I've had plenty of those there." John DeShazier can be reached at jdeshazier@timespicayune.com or 504.826.3410.

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