Merriman eager to return to field

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Still Chargin
Staff member
Mar 5, 2006

By: JAY PARIS - Staff Writer

SAN DIEGO ---- Today delivers to Marty Schottenheimer what he considers pristine. And just the opposite. "In a perfect world,'' the Chargers coach said, "it would be bright and sunny every day.''

The afternoon weather will present that, as the Chargers welcome the St. Louis Rams into Qualcomm Stadium.

But Schottenheimer's and the Chargers' orbit was rocked seven days ago as the NFL world learned Pro Bowl linebacker Shawne Merriman produced a positive test for steroids.

"It's part of life,'' Schottenheimer said.

Merriman is a big part of the Chargers' top-ranked defense today and next Sunday against the Cleveland Browns. Then things probably turn black, as Merriman's appeal of his four-game suspension is heard, with the likelihood of it being overturned considered a long shot.

Since the controversy broke, Merriman has longed to feel the grass under his cleats on game day.

"Any time I get a chance to get out on the football field and just play football, it is pleasant for me,'' Merriman said.

The accusation of cheating doesn't roll quickly off Merriman's muscular back.

He is steadfast in his claim the positive reading was the fault of a manufacturer who supplied him with a tainted nutritional supplement.

That might be true, but it doesn't excuse his test results in the NFL's eyes.

In Merriman's logic, it excuses in part the criticism landing at his feet this week. That he was a cheat, that last season's Pro Bowl selection and defensive rookie of the year award were stained, that his 5 1/2 sacks this year came via a bottle and not from shedding blocks.
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