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Bleak memories drive Merriman's absence

Discussion in 'American Football' started by Johnny Lightning, Aug 4, 2010.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

    Feb 7, 2006
    Merriman: Don't label me


    Tough childhood shaped his views, current approach

    Wednesday, August 4, 2010 at 6:50 p.m.

    Most people can’t relate to Shawne Merriman — never having been homeless, never having been a millionaire.

    And Merriman will not attempt to see eye to eye with those who don’t get him.
    “My only intentions are to be myself,” he said.

    As he spoke late Tuesday night, Merriman stood in his kitchen, immaculate except for the dirty gym clothes on the counter. (Yes, he is working out and looks it. Several hours a day, he’s in the gym and running on a field and in yoga.)

    Outside the glass doors, beyond the expansive patio and the pool with the 50-foot slide, stretched a seemingly endless view of the San Diego night in three directions.

    It is, in this setting, difficult to feel sorry for Merriman or understand his reasons for not being in training camp.

    However, viewing Merriman only in the context of a large house with a Ferrari (and just a couple of other expensive cars) in the garage is to fail to at least try.

    Whether it changes the way his words and deeds are viewed, to know of the worry and the wondering that framed Merriman’s formative years is to at least understand a little better why he is doing what he’s doing.

    In a 90-minute conversation this week, at the request of the Union-Tribune, Merriman shed some light on the mindset that got him here and will take him into whatever future he has, both immediate and long-term.

    He steadfastly maintains he doesn’t know when he will be in camp, if at all. He says he is approaching all decisions on a “truly day-to-day” basis.

    He does acknowledge when asked how after two years blighted by injury he can again be considered one of the game’s most fearsome players, “I’m going to have to get on the field and show it.”

    And while he maintains that sometimes “you have to do what you have to do now so you can do what you want to do later,” he allows that an endpoint that takes into account the interests of him, his family and his teammates is on the horizon.

    “At some point in time,” he said, “I’ve got to make a decision that is best for everybody.”

    Maybe he is fighting a losing battle, both in reality and perception. Maybe he is off-base in the way he goes about achieving his desires.

    But Merriman long ago made a vow to himself that he would never again not know.

    Merriman is driven by memories.

    It is with passionate disdain that Merriman recalls nights spent in cars and cheap motels with his mom and sister. He had one shabby apartment burned to the ground by a Molotov cocktail, another by an overturned candle lit for warmth. Many of the nights there was a roof over their head, he and his sister slept in a closet, where they felt safer when the gunfire could be heard close by.

    He began working — landscaping, then in a lumber yard — at 12 years old for his own money and to help with rent and food.

    He found football, applied a work ethic that was borne of anger and fueled by desperation.

    And now here he is, a three-time Pro Bowler with a rebuilt knee, his football reputation on life support and a facet of his life that seems to him to be constantly nipping at his heels.

    “When I was growing up, the average day, I wouldn’t know if I would have a house to come home to, whether I would have food to eat,” Merriman said. “I worked my whole life to get where I am now. I still continue to work to be as far away from that situation as possible. To be right back in it …”

    He shakes his head as his words trail off.

    After staying away from most of the Chargers’ offseason program, Merriman didn’t report to training camp Friday. He explained that he wanted an assurance he wouldn’t be traded after hearing his name on the trading block much of the past year. He doesn’t want anything in writing, just a commitment the Chargers want him for the entire season. Or, failing that, a trade before he signs his tender would be best.

    “Me growing up the way I grew up, things were always in limbo,” Merriman said. “I got out of that situation to not be back in that situation. That’s how I feel. I feel like they’re putting me in limbo again, just in a different way.”

    This morass is a sense of déjà vu to those familiar with Merriman’s career.

    It was in May 2005, when a newly drafted Merriman was taking a beating from all corners for his unprecedented refusal to attend offseason workouts because he and his agents deemed the Chargers’ injury protection agreement to be unsubstantial.

    “I worked so hard my whole life getting where I am now,” he said at the time. “I just want all that to be protected. I don’t want to lose everything.”

    There is the Merriman many people think they know, which might not be entirely off the mark. The guy does love attention.

    He has appeared on several television shows and in a handful of national commercials. He tweets. He shows up at the Hard Rock Hotel and at a WWE event, and he guest hosts national radio programs. He has at various times hinted at a career in show business and a try as a wrestler.

    What is rarely publicized is the fact that he has given hundreds of hours and more than $100,000 to charities. He quietly visits the homeless. Upon finding out a local shelter was about to close in 2007, he wrote a $7,500 check and spearheaded an effort by local businesses to keep it operating. There is so much more.

    On a shelf in his bedroom are some, but not all, of the awards from his football career. Right next to them, even more prominently displayed, are a half-dozen plaques and proclamations from various organizations, including one from the Salvation Army proclaiming Merriman its Most Valuable Philanthropist for 2008.

    “I always said if I was ever in a situation where I could help people, I would,” he said. “… I always knew I’d do more in this world than play football. I have so much to accomplish. I get labeled for having so many other things. … What people think doesn’t really affect me. They never had to walk in my shoes. But on the flip side, don’t label me. Be open-minded. Where I was from, you never get the chance to do the things I’ve done.”
  2. Boltergeist

    Boltergeist BoltTalker

    Aug 3, 2006
    Just get your @ss into camp. Stay out of the media spotlight. Bring your lunch pail...kick arse...and good things will happen.
    • Like Like x 1
  3. foober

    foober BoltTalker

    Aug 17, 2006

    Not playing football isn't gonna help him. I hope he joins up in a couple days to a week and puts in a great season so he can make alot more money down the road. He's a good kid. And I think he wants to give alot. But he has to know where his bread and butter comes from. And that is football.
  4. LV Bolt Fan

    LV Bolt Fan Well-Known Member

    Aug 1, 2006
    Do what you gotta do, Shawne. :yes:

    HEXEDBOLT Don't like it, lump it!!!

    Jul 11, 2006
    Merriman might want to seek a mental health professional. Sounds like he may have some issues he needs to deal with.
  6. Bergo23

    Bergo23 BoltTalker

    Sep 28, 2006
    I wonder how the Butler injury will effect his decision...if something like that would to happen to him....his big pay day is LONG GONE.
  7. RamAirVA

    RamAirVA New Name, Same Attitude

    Nov 12, 2007
    ^^^ This ^^^
  8. CoronaDoug

    CoronaDoug Official Hater

    Feb 14, 2007
  9. RM24

    RM24 BoltTalker

    Jul 27, 2007
  10. PosterFormerlyKnownAsCBF

    PosterFormerlyKnownAsCBF Well-Known Member

    Jun 25, 2006
    Merriman's gone Hollywood. We all know what happens when players do that.:tdown:
  11. wrbanwal

    wrbanwal Well-Known Member

    Dec 27, 2005


  12. in_a_days

    in_a_days dgaf

    Sep 8, 2006
    ... I've been berating Merriman's attitude and decision making since 2008. I guess I'm not a pariah any more.

  13. boltsnow

    boltsnow BoltTalker

    Oct 13, 2006
    I'm thinking he comes in soon and used this article (although it wasn't initiated by him....supposedly) as a way to soften the blow for when he comes back. Using the story as a heart touching :)icon_rofl:) story so fans won't be so hard on him.

    Ahh shut and play!

    HEXEDBOLT Don't like it, lump it!!!

    Jul 11, 2006
    Pro sports are really becoming a circus with all these money demands. I'm glad I canceled my Sunday Ticket, go screw yourselves.
  15. bigmike.x.09

    bigmike.x.09 Well-Known Member

    Oct 22, 2006
    Do what's best for yourself. At this point in time it's just go play football.
  16. Buck Melanoma

    Buck Melanoma Guest

    Sure you are. Just not for that. :icon_tease:

    On one hand, Shawne does show that he loves the game of football. Say what you will about his decision-making, but he brings it on every play when he's on the field.

    He had a devastating knee injury that, by the accounts of more than a few players, takes a couple of years to fully recover from. I'm willing to see what he has now that we've reached that second year. All of the noise about him waiting too late for surgery is really immaterial at this point. Besides ... who among us knows the full story on that anyway? :icon_shrug:

    I want Shawne on the field. I love the intensity & leadership that he brings to our defense. I want to see him regain the beastly presence that he once commanded on the field. I believe that he can still do that.

    BUT .... he's gotta prove it. He has to understand that he has to prove it. He seems to be pretty savvy when it comes to business. Surely he sees the situation & that it can only be remedied via putting his performance where his mouth is.

    The ball isn't in the team's court, Shawne. It's in yours. Prove that you want to be a Charger. Prove that you're worth being paid at an elite level for your position. Prove that the team is bigger than you, not the other way around.

    Put up or shut up & be gone.

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