The lights were officially turned out on Shawne Merriman’s tenure with the San Diego Chargers on Wednesday. But the switch had been ready to be pushed downward for a while.

Merriman entered the league with a bang but had been a relative nonfactor over the past three seasons. It didn’t help that Chargers general manager A.J. Smith was easily angered by Merriman’s off-field pursuits and self-promoting lifestyle.

And if the “Lord of No Rings” doesn’t want you in the organization, he eventually pushes you out the door.

Merriman was placed on injured reserve with a calf injury. But the Chargers attached a minor injury designation on the transaction, which means Merriman must be released whenever he’s healthy.

Of course, staying healthy has been a problem for Merriman after starting his NFL career with 39.5 sacks in his first three seasons.

From 2005-07, Merriman was a force and his patented “Lights Out” dance was often on display. But he missed most of the 2008 campaign with a knee injury and had just four sacks last season.

With a lot to prove this season, Merriman further drew Smith’s ire by failing to report to training camp on time in protest of not being offered a long-term contract. The holdout was silly – as if Merriman hadn’t figured out in the past two years that Smith wanted him out of the organization – and all it did was hold back Merriman from getting ready for the 2010 season.

When the Chargers opened with the Kansas City Chiefs, Merriman was sidelined with an Achilles’ tendon injury. He injured the calf in the second game against the Jacksonville Jaguars and missed the fourth contest against the Arizona Cardinals. Merriman played sparingly during last Sunday’s loss to the Oakland Raiders.

Merriman is only 26 years old and will definitely receive an opportunity to revive his career. But it is a real toss-up whether he’ll ever recapture his previous form.

Merriman was the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2005 and posted a career-high 17 1/2 sacks the following season in just 12 games. But he was suspended four games for using a banned substance, raising questions on whether his production was real or tainted.

You may recall that Merriman threatened legal action – a public relations tactic used to deflect blame away from the person accused of taking the substance – but never followed through. Gee, I wonder why.

Since the Chargers never offered Merriman a long-term contract when he was among the elite players in the game (remember, they extended the contracts of fringe linebackers Matt Wilhelm and Jyles Tucker during that time frame), I’ve personally felt they didn’t buy Merriman’s tainted supplement account either.

Regardless, Merriman had 12 sacks in 2007 but suffered a knee injury late in the season against the Tennessee Titans. The knee continued to bother Merriman through the offseason and he left training camp seeking answers to his knee pain (yours truly broke the national story in August 2008). Merriman played in the season opener before undergoing reconstructive knee surgery.

His most impressive movement during the 2008 campaign was using his Silver Mercedes SUV to avoid the media seeking comment upon deciding to call it a season. Then 2009 wasn’t much better – his most significant hit of the season came when he allegedly slammed reality star weirdo Tila Tequila to the ground in the early-morning hours.

And now the one-time star will be seeking a new employer. This could be a real blessing in disguise for Merriman, who had long worn out his welcome in San Diego.

But for him to take advantage of it, he needs to re-dedicate himself to football. It’s time for the foolish, look-at-me stuff to end.

Otherwise, the guy known as “Lights Out” can get comfortable with a new nickname: Bosworth 2.0.

That would be in honor of late 1980s bust Brian Bosworth, another linebacker who was better at self-promotion than on-field productivity.

Basically, it’s up to Merriman to turn the switch back up to keep a once-promising career from disintegrating further.

  1. Chargers turn lights out on Shawne Merriman « MrSportsBlog…

    Here at World Spinner we are debating the same thing……

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