selected with the 12th overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft out of
the University of Maryland, College Park. Merriman was one of
the pieces of the infamous Rivers-Manning trade as the New York
Giants traded their 1st round selection to the Chargers in the
2005 NFL Draft along with others and Philip Rivers in 2004 for
the rights to Eli Manning selected by the Chargers with the 1st
overall pick that year.
pick in 2005 ended up being the 12th overall pick which the
Chargers used to select Shawne Merriman out of the University of
Maryland, College Park.
Merriman started off his 2005 rookie year on the inactive list and
completed 10 day hold out from training camp. He did not break the
starting lineup until week 7, but recorded 6 sacks in his first 4
starts. He was voted into the Pro Bowl as an OLB after playing the
position for the San Diego Chargers in their 3-4 defensive scheme
which is the same position he played at the University of Maryland.
Merriman's best game of the year came in week 15 when the Chargers
handed the Indianapolis Colts their first loss of the season.
Merriman recorded 2 sacks and 2 tackles for a loss, one of which
stopped Peyton Manning for a 6 yard loss on 4th and goal. It was
during this game that Shawne Merriman garnered much national media
coverage and in the following week made the Pro Bowl.
On January 4, 2006, Merriman was awarded with the The Associated
Press Defensive Rookie of the Year award. He received 28 1/2 votes
of a panel of 50 NFL sportswriters and broadcasters. He beat the
likes of Seattle Seahawks linebacker Lofa Tatupu, who received 16
1/2 votes , Cincinnati linebacker Odell Thurman, with 4, and Dallas
linebacker Demarcus Ware, with one.
On February 12, 2006, Merriman participated in the 2006 NFL Pro Bowl
in Honolulu, Hawaii. Although in a losing effort, Merriman made 3
tackles and forced one fumble.
In 2006, Merriman again began his season with success, recording 3
sacks and an interception in his first 2 games. Merriman went on to
record 8.5 sacks and make ESPN's midseason All-pro team, prior to
dropping an appeal against a NFL enforced 4 week suspension due to
testing positive for steroids.
In the 2006 regular season, Merriman led the league in sacks with 17
while playing only 12 games. He also added 4 forced fumbles to his
career (2 BUF, and 2 in DEN). Merriman finished third in the
balloting for 2006 Associated Press Defensive Player of the Year,
behind Jason Taylor and Champ Bailey, after having tested positive
for using steroids which is against the leagues drug abuse policy.
Taylor commented that Merriman should not have been considered for
the award because of his suspension. Merriman reportedly responded
by sending Taylor a "Lights Out" t-shirt and a box of popcorn with a
note essentially saying enjoy watching him in the playoffs.
Merriman, nicknamed "Lights Out," performed a dance to celebrate
each of his 17 sacks in 2006. In 2007, he announced that he would no
longer perform this celebration. In week four of the 2007 season,
however, Merriman performed the taunt after sacking Kansas City
Chiefs quarterback Damon Huard.