Jeremy Shockey grunts and snarls a bit when he hears the first results.
"Third place?" he asks when he's told how his team fared in the first leg of the Drambuie Pursuit 2011 race through the Scottish Highlands, "that's not good. We have to come stronger tomorrow."
Shockey -- and if you know anything about the tight end, then you're aware that archery isn't exactly his sport -- is as competitive off the gridiron as he is on it. In the wake of the NFL lockout, the Super Bowl champ signed up to lead Team USA through the 6th annual event this past weekend, which was a 100 mile outdoor race that retraces the journey of Bonnie Prince Charlie across Scotland as he escaped from British Government Forces in 1745. The race included a number of competitions, like white-water rafting, kayaking (Shockey capsized a couple of times), mountain climbing (he sat that one out considering that he doesn't have health insurance right now) and dune-buggy racing. In addition to leading the team, Shockey forked over $10,000 to benefit the The Heath Evans Foundation, as part of his participation.
Legend has it that as a present for hiding him out, Bonnie Prince Charlie left the only thing he had to his name -- the secret recipe for Drambuie, which to this day is still kept under lock and key.
Shockey can relate. He's doing a bit of escaping himself. Now that his recreation of the Highland Games are over -- Team Shockey finished fourth out of 10 teams (a team of young guns from the Netherlands repeated and won it all) -- he and his trainer TJ Prunty are exploring Ireland to discover a bit about Shockey's roots.
"I'm Scotch-Irish. A lot of my family members have been over to this country and to Ireland and I had never been," he says after finishing driving his dune buggy over a gritty terrain course. "I've been working hard in this offseason, so ... I wanted to come over here, see Ireland and Scotland and see where my bloodline comes from and see relatives. And see if I can get my EU card."
He laughs about that last bit, but gets serious when talking about that lockout. When he finished the entire race with his team (teammates Steven Fonrigrnao, Jeff Odell and Shane Duffy -- all distance runners from Texas) he was met by a group of American football fans. Their favorite team is the Philadephia Eagles, but they came armed with Shockey jerseys, hoping to get him to sign them.
The young guys hoped that the lockout didn't delay the start of the NFL season -- they all play American football and say they have to drive hours in Scotland to find a group of kids to play competitively with them.