New York Post / John Oliver
There's more at work around Jeremy Shockey than the quest to turn him into the dynamic tight end he already appears to be. Coming soon, an all-out blitz will commence, attempting to make Shockey's face and strut more familiar than any of New York's most prominent athletes.
Billboards, radio shows, appearances at trendy shoe boutiques. You are about to enter the Shockey Zone.
"He's an amazing star," said Shockey's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, "and we want to capitalize on that for him."
Quickly realizing that his client needed his own marketing guidance, Rosenhaus handed Shockey off to Robert Bailey, president of Miami-based KCB Sports Marketing. Bailey, a former NFL defensive back who holds the league record with a 103-yard punt return, works closely with Rosenhaus and said he gets 15 percent of every deal he arranges for Shockey. Thus far, the money has come flowing in.
Shockey, the Giants rookie phenom who signed a five-year, $8.5 million contract, already has a deal with Nike, but there's so much more. He's the only tight end to have an exclusive agreement with Steiner Sports, the largest sports memorabilia distributor (click here to see the full line of Jeremy Shockey autographed memorabilia). Shockey has a deal with Sprint and with a car dealership. He became the first athlete to sign on with Steve Madden, the shoe designer who will manufacture a Jeremy Shockey shoe that will be signed by Shockey himself. There are serious talks with the Gap and DKNY designer clothing.
The larger deals all pay Shockey more than $100,000 apiece. He will do a brief weekly radio spot on WFAN that will pay him more than $1,000 per show. Bailey said Shockey already has commitments for nearly $500,000, and Rosenhaus estimates Shockey's off-field earning potential is "seven-figures."
Surely, Shockey is an exciting player, but what makes him such a marquee attraction?
"He's the All-American looking guy, the blond-haired, blue-eyed guy," Bailey said. "It's the total package."
It comes as no surprise the Giants take a dim view of the selling of Jeremy Shockey, with the attitude of the organization tidily summed up by these three words from Pat Hanlon, the team's vice president of communications: "What's the rush?"
This can be considered a logical conflict of interest. The Giants want to see Shockey dominate on the field before he branches out into the world of self-promotion, while Shockey's people sense he's already a hot commodity, operating in the largest fishbowl in the nation.
Point: "You can't look at it as too much, too soon," Bailey said. "You have to capitalize on the burning fire. You can't wait until the fire's out."
Counterpoint: "There's another view besides 'The iron's hot, let's jump on it,' " Hanlon said. "Someone has to exercise some judgment and responsibility."
Shockey already has proven himself to be intensely devoted to football, and both Rosenhaus and Bailey state they will line up nothing for Shockey that in any way interferes with his preparation. Of course, if Shockey struggles, fans will no doubt parcel blame to his off-field endeavors.
Some of Hanlon's unrest is based on sheer volume, and Hanlon also has a gripe with a few specific items. "For instance, Howard Stern," Hanlon said. "What good comes of that?"
The appearance last week was a one-time call-in, with Stern offering to take Shockey to some of the city's finest strip clubs.
"Going on the Howard Stern Show is an honor, because of how many people listen," Bailey explained. "My goal is to make sure millions of people out there get to hear Jeremy."
The Giants are only interested that millions get to see Jeremy, as they did this past Sunday when he abused Rams linebacker Tommy Polley to haul in a 28-yard pass for his first career touchdown, in the Giants' 26-21 upset victory in St. Louis.
In two games, Shockey has seven receptions for 94 yards. Nearly all his endorsement deals were consummated before he caught a pass for the Giants.
"Everyone knows [Derek] Jeter, and [Jason] Sehorn certainly had a hold on New York," Bailey said. "Everyone has a time to get a hold of New York. This is Jeremy's time."
Hanlon said Shockey is "as serious about football as any player I've ever seen" but has spoken to the rookie about keeping distractions to a minimum.
"He appreciates both sides of the argument," Hanlon said, "and understands he's going to be the beneficiary or he's going to suffer the consequences. My point is, let's not help ruin a guy's reputation before he has a reputation."
There is no limit, Bailey said, to where Shockey can go.
"He has the potential to be one of the first athletes to do something that can be worldwide," Bailey said. "He's a new-age tight end and I'm a new-age marketing guy. I'm not only going after companies that deal with sports. I'm going after everybody."