Monday, October 23, 2006

The Saga That Is Chargers Linebackers

First the Chargers lost starting linebacker Steve Foley due to getting popped by a cop. Then Sunday, another starting linebacker, Shaun Phillips, was lost by the Chargers when he injured his right calf against the Chefs. Now perhaps the biggest loss of all, the Chargers will be without their best defender and budding superstar Shawne Merriman. Merriman didn’t injure anything, except maybe his hormone levels. It was reported Sunday by Chris Mortensen that Merriman will be suspended for four games for violating the leagues substance abuse policy. The initial positive test occurred more than a week ago with Shaun Rogers and Matt Lehr but unlike Lehr and Rogers, a source says Merriman’s positive test was definitely for steroids and not a related supplement. It was also reported that both Merriman's “A” and “B” samples had come back positive. Basically that means this wasn’t any type of fluke or accident or mistake and there is no doubt the test really was for what it said it was for.
Now it will be interesting to see if the Chargers and Merriman attempt to make up some type of excuse for the positive test. Apparently they are as Merriman is in the process of appealing his suspension. Also the San Diego Union Tribune cites a source that said the appeal process is ongoing and that there is “a reason behind this (appeal)” and “this is not the finality of it.” Interesting to see what that means exactly. Also it is unknown right now when the suspension will actually begin, but Merriman would be eligible to return Nov. 26 against the Oakland Raiders if he sat out immediately. First-time offenders of the NFL's steroid policy receive a minimum four-game ban without pay. A second positive test gets you eight games, and a third positive gets a yearlong suspension.
Here is something else I find really interesting. On Merriman’s website he has a question and answer section. Someone sends him this question. “What supplements do you take if any?” Merriman’s answer, “I am not taking any supplements at this time.” At first I thought this was simply ironic and pretty funny in light of the recent incidents. However, the more I thought about it, I simply cannot believe that Merriman is being honest with his answer. Merriman is in the position that his sole career is based on him being able to perform physically. He is required to have his body in top physical condition. Why would he not take any supplements at all? In the past I have been involved with serious bodybuilding and weightlifting and I know from experience that it is almost a requirement for athletes at the level of Merriman’s to take some type of supplements.
For example, Merriman is listed at 6’4” and 270 pounds so a man his size that pushes his body to the limits that he does simply cannot get the amount of required protein and nutrients needed to maintain and perform at the level he does. Remember a supplement is in no way a steroid or anything illegal. I don’t know how Merriman defines supplements, but I would consider it to mean protein powders, nutrition bars, vitamins, etc. So then why would Merriman say that he takes absolutely nothing? To me that seems almost like a guilty conscience speaking. Rather than try to separate truth from lie, legal from illegal, prohibited substance from allowed, it is just easier for Merriman to say that he takes nothing.
As of right now, Merriman is probably the most famous NFL player who has ever been suspended for steroids. I have already read some rumors of people saying that Merriman didn’t deserve his rookie of the year award or even to be drafted as high as he was. They think that Merriman is the athlete he is now simply due to steroids. Those people are simply uneducated on supplements, athletic training and weightlifting. I have no idea how long Merriman has been taking whatever prohibited substance he has been taking. My guess would be that he started taking his banned substance recently, as he was rigorously tested previously last year and his time leading up to the draft. Merriman has stated over and over again that his goals are to help the Chargers win and to personally become the best defender in the league and even history. I think Merriman is naturally tremendously gifted and he works his butt off in the gym. He got caught up trying to achieve his goal of being the most dominant defender and someone he thought was a friend fed on this goal and offered Merriman something enticing and illegal. With that being said, Merriman has broken the rules and he deserves the punishment set before him. Regardless of the reason that he was wrong, he was ultimately wrong. Hopefully Merriman can put this behind him and learn from his foolish mistake. Not only has he hurt himself but he has hurt his team and he better hope that the Chargers are still in the playoff hunt when he comes off his suspension. Let us know how you feel about the whole issue.

Merriman suspended after testing positive for steroids (San Diego Union Tribune)
NFL to suspend Chargers linebacker (Mercury News)


Blogger pete silva said...

FUNNY! yes we all know demarcus is better, plus merriman didnt even have killer stats. he's no where close to best defender in the league, he is still leagues behind ol' Brain Urlacher (yes brain).

8:34 AM  
Blogger Willie B said...

i think bein called merriman would just be as bad as bein called theisman, i mean the man is a pussy just for usin the roids!

8:11 PM  

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