Chargers' Merriman considers dropping appeal


Sultan of Swat
Staff member
SAN DIEGO (Oct. 31, 2006) -- Halloween came a day early for the San Diego Chargers.

LaDainian Tomlinson wore a gorilla mask to his weekly news conference a day after he reminded everyone how good he is by gaining 240 yards from scrimmage and scoring three touchdowns.

Shawne Merriman didn't wear a mask, but the star outside linebacker was disguising his intentions regarding the appeal of his positive drug test.

After he had three sacks in the 38-24 win Oct. 29 over the St. Louis Rams, Merriman said he'd speak with his attorney to discuss the possibility that he'd drop his appeal and begin serving a four-game suspension for testing positive for the steroid nandrolone.

But nothing had changed by Oct. 30, except that Merriman was wearing a boot on his right foot to protect the heel he injured against the Rams.

"I don't know what is going to happen yet and someone has already said I'm thinking about dropping the appeal and what not, but I still have to find out what is going on myself," Merriman said. "I haven't decided anything yet. I'll find out sometime today or tomorrow what I am going to do, if I am going to do anything at all. It's just all part of the process.

Since his appeal is set for Nov. 7, Merriman was able to play against the Rams and would get to play in the Nov. 5 home game against the Cleveland Browns, unless he decides to drop it.

Merriman said the positive drug test stems from a tainted supplement, and not many people give him a chance of avoiding a four-game suspension.

If the appeal process drags out and he loses, he could miss both of the Chargers' games against AFC West rival Denver, on the road Nov. 19 and at home on Dec. 10. The Chargers and Broncos are tied for the division lead at 5-2.

Asked if his heel injury would affect his decision, he said with a wink: "Yeah, my heel is hurt so bad I think I will probably be out three-to-four weeks."

Then he added: "No, my heel is fine. I'm just trying to stay off it a little bit today."

Merriman's attorney didn't return a phone call.

"I just want to stay on the field. That is all I'm considering right now," said Merriman, the 2005 Defensive Rookie of the Year who has a team-high 8 1/2 sacks. "Obviously I want to be back as soon as possible if anything is going to happen at all. But assuming that something might happen, I have to do what's best to get back on the field as soon as possible."

Merriman said he'd feel cheated if he didn't get to state his case. "But at the same time its not about me proving a point or proving anything anymore. It's about me playing football."

Tomlinson, meanwhile, had some fun a day after going bananas with 240 yards from scrimmage, the third-highest total in his six-year career.

His 183 yards rushing were his eighth-highest total, and he added 57 yards on three catches. He's the NFL's second-leading rusher with 656 yards, and is second with 959 yards from scrimmage.

Tomlinson quieted critics who thought he's lost a step.

"As a gorilla, I don't think he's lost a step. I don't think I could catch him," said the guy in the gorilla mask who sounded an awful lot like L.T.

And he offered this: "I got my wife this morning, and she's seen it before."