Chargers rookies take lesson from “Lights Out”
By Travis Wakeman
The rookies of the Los Angeles Chargers are coming off of their very first mini-camp. But of course, the training before the season starts is just getting into full swing.
That training into the classroom this week as the class met with former Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman, reports Ricky Henne of the team’s official website. Now it would be quite the stretch to classify Merriman as a teacher, but this is the second year in a row he has spoken to the incoming rookie class and there is no doubt that he has gained wisdom since being in their shoes.
“I came in with hype and a persona. Things came out of left field that I didn’t expect. That I didn’t know how to deal with at the time”, Merriman told the group.
He was the No. 12 overall pick of the 2005 NFL draft. He had 10 sacks during his rookie season while being named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, something Joey Bosa also accomplished last season. He also walked around with the “Lights Out” nickname, which placed a bit of a target on his back.
He led the league and tied the franchise’s single-season record of 17 sacks in 2006 and though he was named to the team’s 50th anniversary team, it’s hard not to think back to Merriman’s career and just shake your head. That’s because, if not for some poor choices, it could have been so much better.
That’s what makes Merriman a great choice to speak to these young men.
“I want them to know what the expectations are of them from the team. That they know what’s important around them. Doing things the right way goes a long way, and it sets them up for the future. That is one thing I wish I knew. I didn’t have this as a rookie. Every player is different when they come in, and people can tell you different things. When I was a rookie, I didn’t have one-on-one time to ask someone who went through it questions I had at the time. I wish I did. I think it could have made things easier”, said Merriman.
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Perhaps he’s right. Maybe if a player had come in and spoken to Merriman’s rookie class, his career would have been a little different. But maybe not. What he can do is pass on his real-life experiences to the young group the Chargers have brought in and in that way, can still remain connected to the franchise in a positive way.
It’s a win-win for all involved.