Tracking the Terps caught up with former Maryland linebacker/defensive end Shawne Merriman, who will hold his annual Lights On Foundation coat drive at Byrd Stadium prior to Saturday’s game against Boston College. Merriman will also be Maryland’s honorary captain for the game. (For more information on the coat drive, click here.)
TRACKING THE TERPS: Shawne, tell us a little bit about what you’ve been up to since you retired from the NFL in March.
SHAWNE MERRIMAN: Well, I have a show on NFL Network’s NFL AM that I do weekly, then I’m doing a whole lot of shooting [for TV shows], man. I’m on “The Mindy Project” on Fox coming up on [Nov.] 26th. Just a bunch of different shows here and there.
Then obviously I have my “Lights Out” brand. When I was a rookie in the league, because of my nickname, I actually bought the rights to the name “Lights Out,” so I’ve been using that with my clothing company disposal companies. So, I’m still working.
Is TV something you thought about eventually doing back when you were at Maryland?
Yeah, I always thought that I’d end up in TV somewhere, because people would say I was good on camera back in high school when I would do high school sports shows and things like that. I wanted to have a future someday in TV, so everything is kind of coming together right now and it’s a fortunate situation.
I saw that you also did a training session with WWE recently. Can you share some of the details about that, and is that an avenue that you’d like to pursue as well?
Well, it wasn’t a trainig session. I kind of just got in the ring and was messing around a little bit. I wanted to see their new facilities in Orlando, and it was something I dreamed about doing as a kid. So, when I actually got a chance to see the guys train, I just jumped in the ring and kind of had some fun. That was about it on that.
You mentioned when you retired that it was important to go out on your own terms. Was that a tough decision, and have you had an inkling to come back at all since the season has started?
It was tough, only because I knew I could still play. That was the toughest thing, but for me, I knew it was my time to move on to another career. I was appreciative and blessed to have eight years [in the NFL] – even through the injuries, because the injuries really let me know about myself and not quitting and not wanting to give up. … That kind of told me a lot about myself.
But, for the most part, I knew it was time to move on to the next thing. And I’m still kind of around it talking about it. Just being around the locker room and talking to players, you still feel connected to the game.
Obviously the protection of the quarterbacks is a hot topic in the news, and Ray Lewis was talking about it on TV this week. Is that something that hits close to home for you as a guy who was a pass rusher?
You know, I was excited when they first came out with the rules for the protection of players in general, not just quarterbacks but all players. But I’m starting to see a trend where it’s gone too far. Guys are getting suspended and outrageous fines for something that could possibly go either way. …
I thought the whole rule was in place to protect guys, not to fine guys week in and week out to teach them a lesson. I think that’s what’s going on more than anything now.
How closely do you follow Maryland football these days, and what’s your take on the program?
You know, I’m excited that they’re bowl-eligible for the first time under Coach Randy [Edsall]. It gives us momentum going into the Big Ten. …
Kids here in the local community in Maryland, D.C., Virginia and Baltimore – we have so much talent here that if guys would just stay home, we could compete against anybody in any conference. Hopefully that [success] just makes guys want to stay here more.
Have you been involved in any recruiting pitches to keep kids close to home?
Not really personally. Obviously [current Maryland offensive coordinator] Mike Locksley recruited me [out of Douglass High in Upper Marlboro]. But as far as recruiting, I think of it on a national level just as we’re talking about it now, because it’s important to me. I don’t think I would have received the amount of attention and respect and love anywhere else that I was recruited. The best thing that I did was stay at home, because this area meant so much to me.