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Merriman, Shawne ‘Lights Out’

Cards: Score 2009, Score 2010, SP 2011
Acquired: TTM 2018, C/o Work
Sent: 5/29 Received: 6/29     (31 days)

“Sometimes that flame burns bright. Sometimes it burns so fast and bright it inexplicably burns itself out.”

This makes me think of Shawne Merriman- a dominating force who wrecked havoc around the NFL for a short period of time.  Merriman was a first round selection (#12 overall) by the San Diego Chargers, who had gotten the pick as part of the Eli Manning trade, during the 2005 draft. Shawne was an interesting specimen. He clocked in at 6’4″, 272, with a 4.6 40, and an impressive 40 in vertical jump.  Shawne also had pretty solid stats while playing at Maryland, posting back to back 9 sack seasons, and 140 career tackles. The Chargers were going to use Shawne as a tweener both a linebacker and a defensive end.

Shawne did not get into the starting lineup until almost the mid point of his rookie year- but he made the best of it, blowing by defenders for 10 sacks, 43 tackles, 2 forced fumbles and 5 pass deflections. For his efforts, he earned Defensive Rookie of the Year Honors in 2005, and captured his first Pro Bowl Honor. He returned in 2006 on a rampage, racking up 17 sacks, 48 tackles, 4 forced fumbles, 8 pass deflections, and an interception. It goes without saying that Shawne was named to the Pro Bowl and earned All-Pro, playing all 3 positions in the Chargers linebacker front.  He did this only in 12 games, and was suspended for 4 contests due to a violation of the NFL’s drug policy. Merriman continued his banner play in 2007, earning a Pro Bowl Honor on the back of 12.5 sacks, a career high 54 tackles, 2 forced fumbles, and 4 pass deflections.

It all came apart in 2008. Shawne played the first game of the season on a pair of torn ligaments in his knee, ending his year. He came back for 2009, but nagging injuries kept him down to just 4 sacks and 26 tackles in 14 starts.  Things just kept breaking into 2010, with IR his final destination after 3 games and just 1 start. He’d be released by the Chargers after the season, but not before being named to the Chargers 50th Anniversary Team.

Shawne soon found himself on and off the roster of the Bills. Again persistent injuries played a huge part in the end of his season, and his career in 2013. He’d register 2 sacks, 19 tackles, and 1 pass deflection in 6 starts for the Bills- over two seasons.  He’d retire at the grand ‘old’ age of 28.

Shawne lives in the Los Angeles area. He’s gotten into different types of adrenaline sports- NASCAR, WWE, martial arts, and has made cameos on TV shows. He also has a foundation and a clothing line named after his moniker ‘Lights Out’.

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Hill, Kenny ‘Trill’

Card: Panini Contenders 2018
Acquired: 2018, Box Breaker

Here’s an interesting card from one of those blaster boxes of Panini I’ve become so loathe of recent. If I told you 4 years ago, Kenny Hill would be on a TCU card and not be enshrined alongside Johnny Manziel as a one of the Texas A&M great quarterbacks, you would think I was mad- but here we are.

Backing up for Manziel for just one year in 2014, Kenny was handed the keys to the Aggies fortunes a year later. He would not disappoint in his first start- breaking Manziel’s single game school passing record (511 yards), and Jerrod Johnson’s single game school record (44 completions), against then #9 South Carolina. Almost immediately sensing an opportunity Hill trademarked his moniker ‘The Trill’ for promotional purposes- but after warming up against what turned out to be mid-tier talent, Hill’s number began to tail off against tougher opponents. After losing 3 straight games, he’d be benched- and then suspended for 2 games.  Was the pressure too much at AtM or was the school just not patient enough? Who really knows? Whatever the circumstances, Kenny transferred to TCU in 2016. On the season it should be noted he threw 23 TDs to just 8 interceptions and completed 66.7% of his passes.

After a subpar 2016, Kenny again lit up the scoreboard, bringing his signature style of football to the Horned Frogs posting almost identical numbers to his year as starter at AtM. In his final game he’d beat the Stanford Cardinal 39-37 in the Valero Bowl, as TCU finished ranked 9th in the nation.

Kennny was unselected in the 2018 NFL Draft. He’d sign with the Oakland Raiders, but was quickly cut. Later he’d be picked up by the Montreal Alouettes of the CFL, but is rumored to be high on the wishlist of the upstart AAF San Antonio franchise.

Talley, Darryl ‘Spider-Man’

Cards: Action Packed 1991, SkyBox Colors 1993/94, ProSet 1991
Acquired: TTM 2016, C/o Home
Sent: 12/6/16 Received: 7/30/18    (599 days)

A second round pick of the Buffalo Bills in 1983, Darryl Talley never missed a game in 12 seasons for the Bills. The unusually injury immune linebacker was also a model of consistent play over his long career- that spanned in the end, 14 seasons and 4 Super Bowl appearances. Talley is the Bills’ all-time leading tackler with 1,137 takedowns, to go along with  38.5 sacks, 14 fumble recoveries, 12 interceptions and 2 touchdowns.  After the 1994 season, Talley hit the open market and signed with the Falcons, playing 1995 with them and 1996 with the Vikings before retiring.  He was inducted into the Bills Wall of Fame in 2003, and named to the Bills 50th Anniversary team in 2009.

Darryl has battled severe depression and financial hardship since his retirement, however he’s worked hard to conquer his demons, partially in part due to his wife and children. As of 2018 he acts as a football ambassador for the NFL Legends community of players. The goal is to reach out and help as many former players and let them know of the different programs that are available to them from the league. Here’s hoping things continue on the up and up for Spider-Man.

Darryl Talley had some fantastic cards over his years in the league. I was pleased to add these 3 interesting designs and/or dynamic photos to the Encyclopedia. His Action Packed 1991 card embodies everything I want to see in an exciting solo shot of a linebacker, with Talley in full pursuit about to pop a ball carrier. The card itself on the front is minimally designed, and this appeals to me, and Darryl inked this card in the right spot to accent it perfectly. – High marks indeed. Skybox had a smart debut with their base set in 1992. Their subsequent releases, not-so-much. It didn’t help that they along with their counterparts flooded the market with so much content it was impossible to stay loyal to any card company and follow a release schedule. Mind you this was the high days of adventure before the internet!

The ‘Colors’ 1993-1994 Skybox set was a really slick look but by the time this set came out, I had already had my bank account plundered regularly by the discovery of girls. Both this card and the ProSet 1991 showcase Darryl’s nice arm sleeves, that intentionally were in a webbed pattern to harken to his nickname- Spider-Man.

ProSet set the standard from 89 to 92 really. (Nobody talks about ProSet 93.) That was also their problem. I felt the cards were the minimum I’d expect from a company to show me, even though what ProSet showcased with the minimal design was really outstanding for its era before Photoshop. Great photo of Darryl. It is too bad that ProSet ate itself out of the market. I wonder what their brand would look like today if it still existed.  Overall though Darryl signed 3 of 4 cards, and has a great signature. I think I sent him a donation but honestly it was so long ago I can not recall.

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