A long time ago, back in the days of Jay Strongbow, Jimmy “Super Fly” Snuka, and George “The Animal” Steele, yours truly enjoyed a good wrestling match. I liked it enough to resist for years the notion that grown men typically don’t stomp one of their feet on the ground when throwing a “genuine” punch.
Though I haven’t paid attention to wrestling in years, the squared circle could soon contain a man of great interest to NFL fans: Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman.
Several of you have pointed out that former WWE star Goldberg, who currently is one of the contestants on NBC’s The Celebrity Apprentice, has been talking to Vince McMahon’s wrestling operation about a return. And Goldberg has said that, if he returns, it’ll be part of a tag team featuring Merriman, “updating the old Goldberg/Kevin Greene duo.”
Since Merriman, a restricted free agent, currently isn’t under contract, he can engage in any and all activities that would otherwise be prohibited. The real question, as we see it, is whether Merriman will opt for a year of wrestling over a year of football. Though he would not earn his sixth season of NFL credit if he doesn’t play football this year, he wouldn’t need a sixth season if the next labor deal returns eligibility for unrestricted free agency to four years.
And that puts Merriman and the other restricted free agents with four or five years of service in a unique position. They can take a year off, do something else, and return to the unrestricted free agency that they don’t currently enjoy — if the next CBA indeed reverts to a four-year minimum when it comes to hitting the market.