Shawne Merriman hasn’t graced an NFL field with his presence since 2012. He would leave on his own terms following the season, retiring at 28 years of age. An All-Pro linebacker in 2006, Merriman became known for his “lights out” sack dance. But during his 17-sack season that very year, the league would suspend him for four games for violating their substance policy. Per ESPN’s Chris Mortensen, it’s pretty clear as to why.
“…definitely for steroids, not one of those supplement deals” a source with knowledge of the situation said at the time. But Merriman would come back the following season and rack up 12.5 more sacks. For the rest of his career, though — which would last just five more years after 2007 — Merriman saw the field just 33 times (22 starts). After racking up 39.5 sacks during his first three seasons in the league, he got only six the rest of the way.
Now he’s making a comeback. Well, in a sense.
Per ESPN’s Brett Okamoto, the 34-year-old is joining the World Bare Knuckle Fighting Federation (WBKFF). The plan is that he’ll compete in a boxing match later this year.
“Right now, this is the best opportunity for what I want to do,” Merriman said in a statement. “I’ve been kicking tires for years, this is a good place for me to start. I’m looking forward to having some fun out there. I get to train for the next six to eight weeks and go show everyone what I can do.”
Back in 2009, Merriman was arrested for choking and restraining television personality Tila Tequila. And he isn’t the only former football player with a history of DV to take up combat sports. Former Carolina Panthers and Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman Greg Hardy signed a contract with the UFC in June.