Tag Archives: San Diego Chargers

Dickson, Wayne

Card: Ultimate World League 1992
Acquired: TTM 2019, C/o Home
Sent: 9/6 Received: 10/28 (52 days)

Wayne Dickson played in college for the Oklahoma Sooners from 1986 to 1989. He jumped from linebacker to defensive end in 1988, and then in his Senior year, Wayne was an All Big 8 Honorable mention.

After going unselected in the 1990 NFL draft, Wayne signed with the San Diego Chargers but did not make the squad. He quickly found a home in the CFL with the British Columbia Lions, and then in 1991 with the Saskatchewan Roughriders where he recorded 2 sacks.

Dickson then be selected by the Orlando Thunder of the WLAF and slotted in at left inside linebacker. He’d lead the team in sacks with 5, and was actually the team leader in tackles- before an injury ended his season. Wayne returned to the Thunder in ’92, and added 2 more sacks to his resume as Orlando played in World Bowl II. Following the reorganization of the World League, Wayne joined the Arena Football League, seeing a stint with the Orlando Predators in 1994. In 1995, Wayne was briefly on the radar of the Dallas Cowboys- attending training camp and honing his skills alongside Charles Haley. He then played one final season in 1996 for the doomed Texas Terror Arena franchise posting a sack, before hanging up his cleats.

I wish they (WLAF/NFL) had given us the 5 year time table that they had originally promised!

– Wayne Dickson

A spirited return from former linebacker and Orlando Thunder player Wayne Dickson, as he wrote me a full page response and thanked me for writing. In it he detailed a small bit of trivia: That his first name was ‘Elvis’. (Little did he know, this was how I found him to begin with!) A great card of Wayne here. I just love how his fingers are wrapped in playing tape.

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Bercovici, Mike (2)

Cards: Topps AAF 2019, Panini 2016, Topps AAF Certified 2019
Acquired: TTM 2019, C/o Home, EBay
Sent: 5/10 Received: 6/29 (50 days)
See Also: Mike Bercovici

Mike’s career continued after his release from the Cardinals. In 2018, he signed with the fledgling Alliance of American Football. (I recognized the name immediately when he was assigned to the Arizona Hotshots thanks in part to the league’s territorial allocation.) Later in the year- perhaps out of the fact that some teams were unfairly blessed with an abundance at quarterback, the AAF decided to hold a Pick or Protect draft, to balance out the rosters a bit.

Mike was taken at the top of Round 2 by the San Diego Fleet, where it was planned he’d grow under the tutelage of offensive mastermind Mike Martz, and behind overall #1 pick Josh Johnson. This didn’t happen because almost immediately after the draft, Josh signed with the NFL Washington Redskins. Moving ahead with Berco at starting quarterback allowed the Fleet to plan around him however and prepare him for the rigors of the AAF season.

I didn’t get Mike’s autograph before the first game in league history, even though they were practicing only a few feet from me. I didn’t realize how he’d be a poster boy for the league in the league’s brief highlight film.

 “Hey, whatever this league needs to get people excited, if that’s what it takes, then I’ll take the bullet.”

-Mike Bercovici (on ‘the hit’)

The Commanders ended up beating the Fleet on opening night in San Antonio, punctuated by 6 sacks and 2 interceptions. One of those sacks, LB Shaan Washington came across the line and almost decapitated Mike Bercovici from his blindside. The crowd was dead silent fora brief second as we looked around, and then erupted into a gladiator-like rousing applause at the fact that there was no flag. I thought that perhaps he suffered a concussion, but at some point during that game, Berco was sat for Philip Nelson.

Mike regained the starting position a few games later after Nelson went down with an injury. He’d complete 22 or 43 passes (304 yards) with a TD, leading the Fleet to the game winning drive over the Stallions 27-25. In fact he’d throw for 300 yards in the next two games as well, against the Iron (311 yards) and the Hotshots (310 yards).

Despite Mike’s struggles, he was quite lovable as a quarterback. He finished with 5 TDs to 9 picks, on 51% completions with 1,311 yards. His numbers are actually all the more impressive because he only started 4 games. The league folded after Week 8, and Mike decided to hang up his cleats and go into coaching.

He currently works as a graduate assistant at Arizona State.

I really wanted Mike’s autograph on these cards of his, and after a bit of digging, missing on an address, and a little help from Mark’s Signing Bonus, I was able to track him down on these great cards of his. I liked Berco and I had high hopes that he’d make a great ambassador of the league as the AAF moved forward.

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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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