MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- Jeremy Shockey wasn't sitting in a suite for this Super Bowl. Instead, he was a big part of the New Orleans Saints' sweetest victory.
Shockey hauled in a touchdown catch for the go-ahead score Sunday night, helping the Saints beat the Indianapolis Colts 31-17 for their first NFL championship.
And for Shockey, that 2-yard score had to feel like redemption.
"A great feeling," he said. "I work hard in my career, in my profession. ... I don't just do this for the money or anything. I've got metal in my leg. I've got broken bones. I've got ligaments that are torn, and I do this for the love of the game. The passion I have for it, it's still there."
Only two short years ago, that passion was in question.
Shockey was with the New York Giants -- in name only -- when they upset the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII. He watched that title game from a suite above the field in Glendale, Ariz., and felt like an outcast after breaking his left leg and missing the Giants' scintillating playoff run.
That essentially set up Shockey's trade to New Orleans. This ring, he can say he earned.
"I know there's a lot of people out there that think, I don't know, negative thoughts about me," Shockey said.
But does he feel redeemed as a player now?
"Yes," he said.
The stat sheet will say that Shockey had just three catches for 13 yards in the title game. The Saints will quickly say that Shockey did so much more than that on the way to this championship.
The Saints were thought of by some as a finesse team until Shockey came along, with his rough-and-tumble ways and personality seeming more suited for professional wrestling than professional football.
Just what New Orleans needed, Reggie Bush said.
"I told him, 'God had a different plan for you,'" said Bush, the Saints' flashy running back and returner. "He's got to appreciate it. I know he does. Shockey's brought so much to this team, an attitude that we definitely needed. ... We needed a guy like Shockey to bring that aggressiveness to our offense, and he's been nothing but special from Day 1."
Blond, bold and brash, Shockey came to the NFL from the University of Miami, where he blossomed into a star. He caught 74 passes for 894 yards as a rookie with the Giants in 2002. Both of those numbers still represent career highs.
On Sunday, Shockey got the best moment of his career.
"This game is very humbling," Shockey said. "Any chance you get to make a play, a lot of hard work has gone into that. I've probably run that route 1,000 times in my career, probably only caught a couple touchdowns off of it, but only one in the Super Bowl."
It came with 5:42 left in the game, when Shockey caught a pass from Drew Brees and barreled backward into the end zone, putting the Saints ahead for good. Shockey tossed the ball to the sideline, wanting it as a keepsake. A ballboy picked it up instead.
No matter. Shockey will have plenty of other ways to remember this one.
"To be part of something that's been building, an organization that's never had any success in the postseason and being a part of that is very special. Obviously, always winning is very special," Shockey said. "I have great memories of winning in high school, junior high, college, the Giants and now with the Saints. It's about as special as it gets."