The Justice Files

Well, well, well—you truly can never tell. Apparently, something was shaking on Shakedown Street because the signing of Shawne Merriman this week was truly a shock to all.

All parties involved in the negotiations seemed resigned to the fact this was going to be a lengthy process. Maybe Merriman saw the reaction to the holdouts of more established veterans and got scared. I read in the Union-Tribune that his grandmother was actually fearful for his safety after reading "some of the fan sites."

I can't be blamed for this one, since I tried to simply watch it play out. However, I suppose the fans that posted screeds against him on the message boards should be credited for speeding things up. Then again, scaring the guy's grandma probably isn't that difficult.

Merriman got into camp just as the Chargers' linebacking corps was beginning to look pretty threadbare. Steve Foley immediately challenged Merriman to justify his holdout. You gotta love that guy. Not only is the perfect source of motivation for the defense, but his vocal style lets Donnie Edwards concentrate on leading by example.

Once Junior was traded, it was tough for Edwards to pick up the slack in that department.

I was also surprised to see Jesse Chatman take public responsibility for his release last week. At first, I wondered if there was some Quincy Carter subplot when JC and Marty suggested that there were "other factors at work" besides his performance. But it was apparently just a matter of Chatman's dedication towards getting in shape and subsequent playing weight.

I assumed it was just a matter of the Chargers drafting Sproles.

Chatman's girth never struck me as a problem. It seemed to help him bowl guys over while he was spelling Tomlinson. My wife was a big Jesse Chatman fan and I used to joke about getting her a #24 jersey. However, his release forced me to explain to her that they don't make replica jerseys for every player on the team. Yes, I told her, the John Parrella and Steve Foley jerseys in our closet were actually custom-made.

With the preseason opener only a week away, the most interesting thing to watch is how the secondary shapes up. It's the team's most glaring weakness and it has to improve if the Chargers want to get back to the playoffs and actually do something when they get there. Sammy Davis has a groin pull, which doesn't help his rapidly dwindling campaign to start at cornerback. I see that Fakhir Brown is having contract issues in New Orleans. He was a pretty good cover guy until he crashed his car into the Union-Tribune building. Maybe The Organization should reach out to him.

If Quentin Jammer's Lasik surgery doesn't pay off, we still have Jamar Fletcher and Drayton Florence back there. Those are the two guys I have the most confidence in. They make mistakes, but also make plays.

The conclusion of Shawne Merriman contract ordeal has taught us all one thing--it goes to show, you don't ever know. No matter how closely we follow the unusual occurrences by ocean, we can never really know the whole story.

I remember after Bobby Ross was pushed out. No matter how many times the Spanoses were asked about his working relationship with Beathard, they always maintained that the two Bobbys could coincide. But once Ross resigned, we were suddenly "privy to all the new (crap)," to quote Jeffrey Lebowski.

In their training camp issue, Pro Football Weekly listed a long stalemate between Merriman and The Organization in their "Don't Be Surprised If…" category for the Chargers.

Can you blame them?

I think we had all written Merriman off for the majority of training camp. But A.J. Smith is trying to build on last season to make the Bolts into an organization worthy of respect. Nice job, A.J. you've come a long way from the days of the Chicago Blitz. Somewhere up there, John Butler must be smiling.

Speaking of portly men who have gone to the great beyond, next Tuesday marks the 10th anniversary of the death of Jerry Garcia. In memoriam, I put a few more Dead quotes in The Justice Files than usual. Those of you who have visited (which will be updated immediately after the first preseason game) over the last 10 years have seen the lyrics to "Lazy Lightning" on the front page. It's not a Jerry song, but it perfectly sums up my feelings on both the Dead and the Chargers.

It's an obsession, but it's pleasin'.


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