Chargers Merriman will serve 4 game suspension

By Dave Damiano
November 10, 2006

Shawne Merriman of the San Diego Chargers has become the most recent player to violate the National Football League’s drug policy. After failing the NFL’s random drug test for steroids, Merriman was given a four-game suspension starting on Oct. 23.

Immediately upon hearing that he had failed, Merriman apologized to his fans and teammates and said that he will appeal the suspension. By appealing the suspension, Merriman will continue to play in the NFL until the arraignment, which is scheduled to take place on Nov. 11.

Because this was his first offense, Merriman was only given a four-game suspension. Merriman said that he had been taking the supplement for over a year and a half, and because it has never showed up on drug tests in the past, he continued to use.

Merriman failed both the “A” and “B” samples of his drug test. This determines that it was definitely steroids and not an over-the-counter supplement.

In recent days, it has been discovered the Merriman has decided to take the suspension even though he is still trying to prove he is innocent. Merriman and his attorneys will not reveal the name of the drug because they plan to take the case to court.

The Chargers are one of the best defenses in the league, and Merriman is a strong contributor to that. Merriman was among the league leader in sacks up until the time he will serve his suspension.

The team is scheduled to play some difficult teams in the month of December, such as division rivals the Denver Broncos and the Kansas City Chiefs. By taking the suspension, he will be back in action to play on Dec. 3 against the Buffalo Bills, one week before Denver.

The NFL has had some serious problems regarding players failing drug tests in the past. The most popular story came in the July 2004 when Miami Dolphins running back Ricky Williams abruptly retired from the game. Williams was one of the leagues most premier players, and this came as a shock to the world of sports. Williams is now nearly a permanent athlete in the Canadian Football league, which housed Boston College great and New England Patriots back up Doug Flutie.

It was later determined that Williams decided to retire because he wanted to continually smoke marijuana. After a year of smoking, Williams was in desperate need of a paycheck and decided to rejoin the team. Even after a year off, Williams still had to serve a four-game violation.

The NFL is not the only league where players are facing a tremendous amount of scrutiny. The Major League Baseball association has had its share of problems in the past regarding steroids. Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa and retired greats such as Mark McGuire and Rafael Palmeiro have all been called to the Supreme Court to testify about using steroids.

All of these players were asked to testify because former baseball player Jose Canseco wrote in his book, “Juiced,” that he has supplied many players with steroids and even admitted that he went as far as injecting the syringe into them.

So what has happened to professional athletes recently? If they continue to apologize to the team and fans about being suspended for a drug violation, then why do they continue to offend?

Merriman stated all along that he wanted to do what was best for the team. And on Oct. 31, he decided to drop his appeal. Has he learned his lesson about taking performance enhancing drugs? Or does he just want to play so he can receive another paycheck?

Time will only tell what is going to happen with professional sports but one thing’s for sure, no matter what, they will all have to take a drug test and the outcome will make or break the season of those players. The steroid policy hasn’t only be instated to maintain physical fairness in football as well as other professional sports, but to instill fear in players to keep them clean and off the syringe.

The Loquitur welcomes your comments on this story. Please send your comments to: The editors will review your points each week and make corrections if warranted.

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Dave Damiano

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