SAN DIEGO — The San Diego Chargers have turned out the lights on the player known as “Lights Out.”
Outside linebacker Shawne Merriman, once one of the most-feared players in the NFL, was placed on the injured reserve list with a calf injury and a “minor-injury designation” on Wednesday. Merriman must be released when he becomes healthy, the team said.
Technically, the Chargers could re-sign the controversial player. That almost certainly won’t happen, though, because general manager A.J. Smith hasn’t been a fan of Merriman’s celebrity-leaning lifestyle.
Known as “Lights Out” because of his once-ferocious hits, Merriman had 39 1/2 sacks in his first three seasons. He’s had only four since then due to a variety of injuries.
He was suspended for four games in 2006 after testing positive for steroids. Even missing the four games, he had 17 sacks that year.
He also brought unwanted attention off the field, including an arrest just before the 2009 season after reality television star Tila Tequila accused him of battery and false imprisonment at his suburban San Diego home. No charges were filed, and Merriman and Tequila settled dueling lawsuits.
Merriman missed most of the 2008 season after undergoing reconstructive knee surgery. He had four sacks last year as he tried to regain his hard-hitting form. After sitting out most offseason workouts and part of training camp to protest his contract status, he was slowed by an Achilles’ injury and then a calf injury.
He had only five tackles and no sacks in limited action this year.
Merriman declined to comment when contacted via e-mail. Smith didn’t return a call seeking comment.