Shawne Merriman Is a Good Guy

James JosephContributor IAugust 5, 2010

SAN DIEGO - MAY 03: Linebacker Shawne Merriman #56 of the San Diego Chargers watches practice during minicamp at the team's training facility on May 3, 2009 in San Diego, California. Merriman did not participate in any of the drills. (Photo by Kevin Terrell/Getty Images)
Kevin Terrell/Getty Images

Tila Tequila, appearance on MTV shows, music videos, wrestling competitions, and of course the steroids issue. 

Besides the lack of production for the past two years, there are a lot of reasons to hate on Shawne Merriman if you’re a true Chargers' fan. 

People call him a diva, someone who is not about the team, focused on his image and not his production.  On top of all that, he is holding out from training camp.  The pile of reasons to dislike this guy just keeps growing.

Maybe I am an optimist.  Maybe I am a softie. 

I prefer to think of myself as a guy who looks at both sides before passing judgment.  And my final judgment says Shawne Merriman is a good guy.

Tila Tequila Incident

The things that have been said about this event truly baffle the mind. 

He was accused of attacking and choking her, and afterwards Tila Tequila said Shawne Merriman forced minors to sleep with him and made drugs in his house.  He was arrested the night of the incident yet released within a week.

So whats more logical here?

The police thinking they have a statutory rapists/drug dealer who beats women in custody and then letting him go after a couple of days OR some no-talent attention-grabbing wannabe in desperate need of something because her show “A Shot of Love” just ended and she has nothing.

By the way, Merriman’s side of the story was that he was trying to pick up Tila because she was completely drunk and falling all over herself. 

I am sorry to admit, I have watched an episode of her reality show.  Trust me, she is that type of girl. 

Another part of the story that is always forgotten is Merriman sued Tila for $2 million and won. 

She actually defaulted on the case (meaning, she never responded/fought the issue) which I interpret to mean either she knew she had no argument, or she is so whacked out that she didn’t think responding to a $2 million claim was a big deal.  

Many will say Shawne Merriman shouldn’t have been there in the first place. But then again, how do you see this coming?  He had the opportunity to hang out with some celebrity and took it. 

It’s easy for the normal guy to think, “If I was making that much money, I would never put myself in that situation.” 

To that, I say, “Really?” 

You wouldn’t have big parties when you have millions in your pocket?  You wouldn’t use your fame and popularity to get access to exclusive clubs and meet celebrities? 

Plenty of NFL stars do this.  You just don’t hear about it in the news everyday.  Merriman was helping the girl out and got this in return.  Give him a break

Other Media Appearances

He’s gone on an MTV dating show, made an appearance in a music video and went on WWE’s One Night Stand (where he hit Chavo Guerrero). 

Really, this is nothing compared to other NFL stars out there.  He is not on the same planet as Chad Ochocino or T.O.

Peyton Manning does more commercials than this guy.  Jason Taylor did a season of Dancing with the Stars during the off-season.  Even LT had the “LT Electric Slide” (which was awesome by the way). 

Also, he got into the whole wrestling scene because in the offseason he used boxing/mixed material arts training to get stronger. 

This is not unheard of either. 

Numerous NFL players go through this training (Connor Barwin from the Texans for example).  Whether you like boxing/MMA or not, you have to admit the training regiment they go through is ridiculous.

His Nike commercial was his other media appearance (if you want to include that). 

Personally, this commercial got me excited for the next season.  Merriman handing out big hit after big hit through all types of O-lines and weather was sweet.  Just wish he did that on the field that year. 

Which leads me to…

His Production the Last Two Years

Yes, it has been down.

He missed one season and was not the same the next season.  This is the biggest blight on Merriman’s record for me. 

Can he shake off this nagging injury?  Will he be able to perform and earn a new contract? He is down but not out.  But let’s remember how good he was.

First three years in the league the guy gets 39.5 sacks.  That’s averaging around 13 sacks a season. 

Not only that, in 2006 he had 17 sacks (lead the league).  Teams had to worry about Merriman so much, Shaun Philips was left to run wild and had 11.5 sacks that year.  He makes other players better. 

He also gets that defense fired up. 

In 2007, he said he wouldn’t do the “lights out” dance anymore.  But when the chargers were 1-3 and facing the Chiefs, he did the dance after a sack.  He said it was to get the team pumped up again. 

Considering how miserable that season was looking after how that stellar 2006 team did (except for that Patriots game), we needed something.  Merriman was part of the comeback (and had 12.5 sacks for the season).


Considering how awesome he was the first three years and terrible the last two have been, people are saying that since he is no longer on the juice, he has lost that special something. 

This timeline just doesn’t make sense. 

He was suspended for steroid use in 2006 and missed four games.  That season, he had his career high of 17 sacks in 12 games.  The next season he still had 12.5 sacks. 

I am no doctor, but if you stop using steroids, wouldn’t the effects wear off in about a month or two?  Do they really make steroids that last a full two years after use?

On top of all that, I don’t think he used at all. 

The steroid story got all the press and everyone labeled Merriman as a cheater.  Merriman never admitted and always said it was a tainted supplement that set off the test. 

The part of the story that very few ever heard was Merriman got 20 random drug tests during his first two years in the NFL and 19 of them came clean.  This was something that Roger Goodell came out and acknowledged. 

After the incident, the league instituted the “Merriman Rule” which said anyone suspended for any amount of games would not be eligible for the Pro-Bowl. 

Goodell actively tried to distance Merriman from the rule because he didn’t believe he deserved such unfair treatment because of his previous record.            

So was his production in those first two years based off the one time he did steroids? 

Look, if pharmaceutical companies can make these performance enhancing drugs like this, AIDS should be a thing of the past and the cure to cancer is just around the corner. 

Still he tested positive and the suspension was necessary to show a zero-tolerance policy.  I am not faulting the NFL for that; I am criticizing the people that still use this against Merriman.    

Where To Go from Here

It’s now a couple of weeks before the season starts and training camp is ongoing. 

Shawne Merriman is lumped together with Vincent Jackson and Marcus McNeil as holdouts demanding more money.  But he isn’t even asking for more money.  All he wants is a no-trade clause. 

I love AJ Smith and trust his judgment 95 percent of the time but this one I don’t get. 

Merriman wants to stay committed to the team and doesn’t want to play for someone else this season.  He doesn’t want to be strung out as bait for some team desperate in the middle of the year. 

I thought this was the kind of thing AJ likes.  Giving Merriman what he wants is also a win-win situation.

With the no trade clause, Merriman starts training camp and our defense can practice at full strength.  He won’t have to come in cold after a hold out. 

If he produces during the season, he will have shown he deserves a new contract and we should sign him in the offseason.  Heck, if he is really on fire, sign him during the season. 

If he doesn’t perform, we won’t get much trade value for him anyway so let him go. 

Either way, the ball is in his court and he knows he only wins if he gives the Chargers another amazing year.  And the money we save on him isn’t going to radically alter how we handle Jackson or McNeil.

At the end of the day, Merriman is a good guy.

I’m not a fan of the lights out tattoo (a tattoo of a hand on a light switch? For something that is supposes to represent an unforgiving knock-out hit, it’s just lame) but I like this guy with bolts on his shoulders.

He hasn’t earned the new contract yet, but he has earned the right to prove himself.


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