Merriman not very happy about way Dallas treated him
By Kevin Acee
STAFF WRITER
April 25, 2005

Shawne Merriman is happy. But he is also the kind of guy to happily carry a little bit of a grudge.

And the men who run the Dallas Cowboys, coincidentally the first team Merriman will play against as a professional, are not his favorite people at present.

"Bill Parcells and Jerry Jones both told me if I was still on the board at No. 11 they were going to pull the trigger," Merriman said yesterday. "Not only was I lied to, I was smacked in the face."

The Cowboys took another pass-rush specialist, Demarcus Ware of Troy, with the 11th pick of the NFL draft Saturday.

Merriman said yesterday, during his one-day trip to San Diego to meet with his new employers and the media, that he is ecstatic to be a Charger. The team selected him with the 12th pick overall, which it got from the New York Giants as part of last year's Eli Manning-Philip Rivers trade.

"This is the best situation to come into," Merriman said with a smile as broad as his massive shoulders. "I was still an early pick, and it's not like it's a team that was picking 12th because they didn't do well (last season)."

But what left him miffed was that in separate face-to-face meetings the Cowboys coach (Parcells) and owner (Jones) told him they wanted him. Then, this past week he said he received calls at all hours of the night from Cowboys personnel checking on last-minute details.

"I was hassled," Merriman said. " . . . They could have treated me like any other guy. They took the extra step and led me on."

Merriman said he won't necessarily try harder than normal playing against the Cowboys in the Sept. 11 season opener.

"But, he added, "it won't hurt to open against them."


Big man

Darren Sproles was expecting to go in the third round, but he said being taken by the Chargers in the fourth was fine, too.

The running back from Kansas State knows that, at nearly 5 feet 6 and 181 pounds, it's a bit of a surprise he is even in the NFL.

"It feels good just to really get my shot," Sproles said. "Everybody was saying that being 5-6, I wouldn't get a chance."

Sproles' main chance with the Chargers will be returning kicks, which he did well for Kansas State. He averaged 9.5 yards on punt returns and 24.2 on kickoffs.

Sproles, who finished fifth in Heisman Trophy voting in 2003 after rushing for 1,986 yards, finished his career with a Big 12 Conference-record 6,812 all-purpose yards.

It is possible he will be inserted in certain situations from scrimmage. "What we'll do is find various packages we can use him in," coach Marty Schottenheimer said. "Obviously he isn't a guy we'll ask to stand in there and block big linebackers coming off the edge. But he is really a unique runner."


Nothing doing

General Manager A.J. Smith confirmed that he explored with three teams the possibility of trading for a veteran defensive end before the draft. He would not confirm any of the teams involved, but it is known one was Tampa Bay, which would have sent Simeon Rice to the Chargers for the Chargers' second pick in the first round (No. 28 overall).

Smith said he would have picked a receiver with the No. 12 pick had a trade for a defensive end gone through.

The Chargers also received "many" calls proposing trades during the draft, Smith said.

"We were not interested," Smith said. "Once the draft began I was pretty much locked in and very satisfied that we were going to stand pat this year and go all the way through."


Not much doing

The Chargers, like all teams, began courting undrafted free agents yesterday afternoon. The going was rough, as the free agents eyed a Chargers roster that is largely set.

"That's a compliment to us," Smith said.


Familiarity

Fifth-round pick Wesley Britt is already familiar with backup quarterback Philip Rivers.

Britt is from Cullman, Ala., a short drive from Rivers' hometown of Athens, Ala.

Britt recalled yesterday playing against Athens High in basketball. Cullman led by 27 points in the fourth quarter when Rivers went on a tear and hit seven three-pointers to lead Athens to victory.

"Our newspaper headline the next day was 'Rivers runs through us,' " Britt said. "I've seen Philip Rivers in action. I think he did some damage in track against us, too."

Britt was OK in track, too. He won the state championship in the discus his senior year with a throw of 142 feet, 6 inches.


Extra points

Raiders coach Norv Turner hinted that Rich Gannon's career is over in Oakland, raising doubt the QB will play again after a serious neck injury. Turner said that Gannon, who turns 40 in December, will not attend the team's mandatory minicamp next weekend . . . Browns QB Luke McCown was traded to Tampa Bay for a sixth-round pick in yesterday's draft . . . Oklahoma QB Jason White, the 2003 Heisman Trophy winner, went undrafted, as did All-Americans Michael Muņoz (Tennessee tackle) and Ernest Shazor (Michigan safety) . . . Adrian McPherson, the talented but troubled quarterback, who threw his college career at Florida State away by betting on football games and committing a string of felonies, was selected in the fifth round by New Orleans.