Former All-Pro linebacker Shawne Merriman announced his intention to retire from the NFL on his personal website on Tuesday, ending his nine-year NFL career.
Merriman didn't take long to make an impact in the NFL, winning Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2005. He quickly became one of the most feared pass rushers in the league, but said in a statement that he decided to retire because of a desire to leave on his own terms:
After a lengthy discussion with my agent, family and team, I have officially decided to put in my retirement papers today. My retirement from the game I love so much and from the game that has brought me so many opportunities on and off the field has been decided with great thought for my future on and off the field. I retire today not because I don't feel i can go out there and still play the game at a very high level, I am retiring because I want to retire on my own terms and leave while I know I can still physically play the game. I am stepping back to pursue other great opportunities that have been afforded me. I want to thank all of my fans around the country. I want to thank the San Diego Chargers and the Buffalo Bills for their support during my time at each club. I feel truly blessed to have been part of the NFL and to have had the opportunity of a lifetime. I am excited to pursue my other career opportunities and look forward to what is on the horizon for me. I will continue to train with some of the guys not because of football but it's a part of my Lifestyle.
Merriman had most of his success early in his career with the San Diego Chargers. He racked up 39.5 sacks during his first three seasons. He led the NFL with 17.0 sacks in 2006, despite missing four games due to a violation of the NFL's performance-enhancing drugs policy. A torn ACL derailed his career in 2008 and he was never able to make the same impact upon his return. He returned in 2009, but recorded just 4.0 sacks. He suffered another injury in 2010 and was traded to the Buffalo Bills during the season. Merriman appeared in 15 games with the Bills, recording 2.0 sacks.
In addition to winning Defensive Rookie of the Year, Merriman was voted to three Pro Bowls and named a first-team All-Pro in 2006. Merriman finished his career with 45.5 sacks, he was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on March 12.