Monday, 20 August 2012

Shawne Merriman is released by the Buffalo Bills

Shawne Merriman has been released outright by the Buffalo Bills.

Man, I remember Shawne Merriman's first two seasons with the Chargers.  They'd targeted DeMarcus Ware in the 2005 Draft, but the Cowboys snagged him one spot before the Chargers, so they went with Shawne as their pass rushing specialist.  He was flying out there, and looked like a cartoon superhero, with a crazy neck and jaw.  He was a showman, with his high-cut jersey revealing his tattooed guns, and his 'Lights Out' dance.  It was almost too good to be true.

It was.  After a positive drug test in 2006, a result he was so flippant about, literally winking at the press corps when he stated he had ingested tainted supplements, that some surmised Paul Tagliabue might extend the four-game suspension, his career went downhill.  He still had a monster season in '06 despite missing four games, and coasted on his accumulated size and strength in 2007, although his results sagged.  Then the injuries and ineffectiveness kicked in, and he's washed out of the league now probably after seven seasons.

Was it a good decision for him to take steroids?  It can be argued, based on his pedestrian results since his positive test, that he might never have made the NFL out of Maryland if he hadn't been using, which there had been whispers about before the draft (unfortunately, these whispers are often on the mark, see: Cushing, Bryan).  So his steroid use allowed him to have a pretty nice career and amass a personal fortune that if managed properly should provide for him and his family for the rest of his life.  On the other hand, some experts argue that it's the steroid use that made him injury-prone, always pulling hamstrings and calfs.  If he hadn't used the stuff they say, he might have had a long, productive career, he might have been healthy enough to actually play.

We often see black and white footage of NFL or MLB or NHL players from the fourties and fifties, and they all seem underwhelming, all pasty and small and undefined, compared to the modern day heroes.  Some of our modern day supermen seem almost too impressive to be real.  Too often, they're not.  Seeing Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa and Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds, before PED's and during and then after is always such a shock.  Albert Pujols is shockingly different this year, much slimmer and 'normal', as opposed to the previous years where he looked like a cross between Paul Bunyan and Wolverine.  It's a troubling coincidence that this is the first season MLB is testing for Human Growth Hormone.

I've been a little cynical and derisive when talking about Shawne, I've felt like if he abused my trust as a fan, with the steroid issue and other off-field incidents, but now that it seems his career is over I wish him the best.

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