The lights may have been turned out for Shawne Merriman in San Diego, but their turning back on in Buffalo. The Bills decided to take a leap of faith and give their fan base something to cheer about by re-signing the former pass-rushing star for another two years despite a nagging Achilles tendon injury. Merriman did not play a game for the Bills in the final two months of the season after being claimed off waivers by Buffalo from the San Diego Chargers. The Bills have gone through another tumultuous season in 2010 by going 4-12 in an AFC East division that is lock-and-loaded with the likes of the up-and-coming-yet-again New England Patriots and the trashing-talking New York Jets.
Merriman has accumulated 43.5 sacks in his whole career, but has only played in 18 games over the last three years. Despite all the injury troubles as well as the nature of how competitive the AFC East currently is, Merriman believes in Buffalo. Bills fans couldn’t be any happier with that. Shawne Merriman joined the Howard simon Show on WGR in Buffalo to discuss what his thought process was on rejoining the Bills on a contract extension, how much he got to know the guys in Buffalo before the season ended, his perception of the Buffalo Bills organization as an insider, how much of his decision to stay in Buffalo factors with Buddy Nix being the GM, does he feel that he’ll be fully healthy at the start of training camp and will there be a chip on his shoulder when he steps on the field for the 2011-12 season barring a labor strike.
What was your thought process on rejoining the Buffalo Bills on a contract extension? Why did you want to stay in Buffalo?
“Well for a few different reasons. I never hid the fact that before I came out, when I had my decisions to go where I wanted to go, that Buffalo was not my first option to come to because obviously when you have your choices and options where you want to go. You want to go with someone who is on their way to winning and has a winning record. When I came out to Buffalo it really changed my mind on a lot of things. For one seeing the guys out there was probably one of the biggest.”
After being claimed off waivers from the San Diego Chargers, how much did you get to know the guys in Buffalo before the season ended?
“A lot and you know not just getting to knowing them by watching them in practice, but getting to knew them personally. They knew that they were probably a couple of guys away, a couple of core pass rushers, a couple of main tackles, maybe a main field passer (make your own judgement on that), they knew they were a few inches away from being a pretty damn good team and they knew that. It wasn’t like a bunch of guys walking around the building who were looking to lose next week’s game. That probably surprised me more than anything because when I came out they were 0-8. You know the team was 0-8 and I just didn’t understand why these guys were losing because that’s not an 0-8 football team. So when I seen it like I said it totally changed my mindset on things we could possibly do when I come out. You know that’s why I chose to re-sign. That’s why I’m happy that I’m in the position that I am now.”
Your perception of Buffalo and the franchise as an outsider playing in San Diego and now as insider playing for the organization? What has changed?
“Well see what happen is most of the people looking from the outside-and-in they look at the end of the game. They look at stats, they look at numbers, they look at what the commentators say or whatever the case is. You can’t do that with this team. You know you can’t do that with us now because if you look at it like the statistics and all those things you are going to get the wrong impression of what kind of football players are on that team. There probably 4 or 5 games away from being a 9-7 or a 10-6 team easily. You have to really pay attention and hopefully this upcoming season people will play attention.”
How much of your decision factors in with Buddy Nix being a good talent evaluator with the #3 pick in the 2011 draft? Was it a factor?
“Yeah I have great respect for Buddy out in San Diego. I know when he says something he really means it. He stands by it. He’s on the same page and getting us where we need to go. You know giving us the tools and putting us in the right position to go out there and make things happen. That’s why I’m more excited. Once he said “Look we’re going to turn this thing around,” you know he wasn’t telling me that to give me a ra-ra speech. He was telling me because he really meant that and going out and getting guys that’s going to make us better. They started by getting me, so I’m extremely happy. I’m excited because for one I get a chance to go out and I haven’t played much football in the last year or two. So it gives me the opportunity to go back to the tape and say look I’m healthy, I’m back and I’m playing instead of letting me show you what’s going to happen they started by bringing me out. I’m more than happy and excited.”
Do you anticipate being fully healthy at the start of training camp?
“Absolutely. It’s been something that’s been there for a year. It took a few tolls on me playing and me being explosive. You know this Achilles problem has been there for a long time, but this has been the first time I’ve ever really had a time to address it and had the time to let it heal and really concentrate on getting healthy again. So it’s going to be huge. It’s going to be a huge season for me personally because I have a lot more things to prove. I have a lot more things to accomplish before I’m done with this game. I have a lot more things to accomplish with my new team. Nothing is going to make me more happy then helping us get right back on track. I know I’m going to be a big part of that and that’s why I’m more excited than anything.”
Is there a chip on your shoulder when you come back out for the Bills? Do you feel there is something to prove?
“I’m going to tell you guys something. You may not know me well, but I always have a chip on my shoulder. The one year or whatever people are saying I play with a chip on my shoulder. That’s the beauty of how I play the game of football not because of one particular thing or I haven’t been on the field in the last year to. I have a chip on my shoulder in everything that I do, when I’m in the gym, after I leave the gym, when I go to rehab, before practice and after practice. I walk around with chips on my shoulder. Actually, you know maybe someone should give me a Doritos sponsorship or something because at this point I walk around with a lot of chips on my shoulder.”