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Lights Out on the Bolts, but for how long

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Acrimonious.  That is the best way to describe the relationship between the Chargers and their star outside linebacker.

It was only a few years ago that we thought Shawne Merriman was going to surpass Junior Seau’s as the franchise’s most dominant defensive player.  He had 39.5 sacks in his first three years in the league, and was becoming the most feared player in the NFL.  His play conjured up comparisons to Lawerence Taylor, Derrick Thomas and Ray Lewis.  The steroid allegations of 2006 seemed like a distant memory after he recorded 12.5 sacks in 2007, but then came the off-season.

He was brash and dismissive of the notion that he needed surgery to repair two torn ligaments in his knee; he perpetrated an image of a rock star, and was condescending to team personnel that told him he needed to devote his mind, body and soul to football.  He upset many people in the organization that off-season, not the least of whom was AJ Smith.

He came into training camp and struggled.  It was evident to on lookers that this was not the same Lights Out.  He was abrupt with the media – a tendency he had not demonstrated in the past – and continued to defend his decision not to have off-season surgery.  Alas, a poor performance in the season opener made him admit to his error, and he underwent season ending surgery.

AJ blamed Shawne’s off-field endeavors for his failure to be ready for the 2008 season, and for his failure to return to form in 2009.  Shawne continues to contend his off-field pursuits have no effect on his on-field performance.

Shawne argues, when healthy this year, he was as disruptive as he has ever been.  The injuries that plagued his 2009 season, he attributes to his determination to return to the field for the season opener.  He believes had he waited a month, his season would have been dramatically different.  That is speculation, but what is fact, Shawne will be a Charger next season.

Last night, the Chargers made Shawne a restricted free agent by offering him a one-year contract of $7.5 million.  AJ knows that no other team is likely to offer a contract to Shawne, as it would cost them a first and a third round pick in this year’s draft.  A smart move, considering that the Chargers would not want to lose LT and Lights Out in the same season (we do not have to remind them about the fans uproar when they pushed aside Seau and Rodney Harrison in 2003). 

Both sides have made it known that they are looking for a long-term commitment, but the sides have substantially different ideas as to Shawne’s worth.

I personally would love for Lights Out to stay in San Diego the rest of his career – he makes my job a lot easier – but it appears that both sides will have to swallow some pride to make that happen.  Who knows, crazier things have happened… Like head butting an opponent in your own red zone.               

***I am currently in an Athlete Representation course, and I am “representing” Shawne Merriman.  This is my attempt to demonstrate how an agent can feed a story to the press to sway the court of public opinion.  The goal being to increase their leverage in negotiations.  This is my interpetation as to how Nick Canepa would write the story for the San Diego Union Tribune.  Please feel free to leave a comment..

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Written by Peter Amador

February 16, 2010 at 9:53 AM

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