Chargers' Merriman Suspended for Four Games

ByABC News
October 23, 2006, 11:26 AM

DETROIT, Oct. 23, 2006 — -- Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman has been notified he will be suspended for four games for violating the NFL's steroids and related substances policy, league and team sources told ESPN's Chris Mortensen.

I don't understand how a professional athlete in this day and age could take steroids when there are so many consequences. Sure, I understand the great deal of money that is to be made if you're able to get away with it. But is it worth what he's now going to go through? This is a kid who presumably wanted to one day be mentioned in the same breath as luminaries like Mike Singletary, Dick Butkus, Ray Lewis and Lawrence Taylor. Now he stands a much better chance of being mentioned in the same breath as Brian Bosworth and Tony Mandarich.

Merriman's positive test was "definitely for steroids … not one of those supplement deals," said a source with knowledge of Merriman's suspension. Both the initial A sample and backup B sample came back positive, Mortensen reported.

Merriman, 22, was the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year last season and started in the Pro Bowl after recording 54 tackles and 10 sacks. He also finished with five passes defended and two forced fumbles. Through six games this season, Merriman was second on the Chargers with 5½ sacks.

The San Diego linebacker has acquired the nickname "Lights Out" for his hard hits and aggressive demeanor.

"Shawne, of course, he's something," Chargers coach Marty Schottenheimer said after Merriman won top honors for first-year players. "He's an extremely talented young man who brings it every snap. … He's very, very competitive."

Merriman's suspension originally was to be announced last Tuesday when two other NFL players -- the Falcons' Matt Lehr and the Lions' Shaun Rogers -- were suspended for violating the policy. But Merriman reserved the right to appeal his suspension, so it was not announced.

"Per the collective bargaining agreement, the Chargers aren't allowed to comment on reports or results involving the league's substance abuse policy," Chargers spokesman Bill Johnston said Sunday night.