Former NFL star Shawne Merriman signs with Bellator MMA ….. sort of
Shawne Merriman nicknamed “Lights Out”, is a former American football player who was a linebacker in the National Football League (NFL) from 2005 to 2012. He was among the top linebackers in the NFL in his first three seasons with the San Diego Chargers, where he was a three-time Pro Bowl and All-Pro selection.
Now the retired NFL star has signed with Bellator MMA….. sort of.
It was announced yesterday at the Bellator 160 press conference that an agreement has been made between the mixed martial arts organization and Merriman’s “Lights Out” workout apparel brand.
“It’s a major platform for my brand and something I’ve been eyeing for a very long time,” said Merriman, who incorporated mixed martial arts techniques during his football career and continues to train in the sport. “I couldn’t be more excited for it to happen with Bellator because I look at it in much the same way I do Lights Out. We’re looking to take it to another level so we want to grow as they grow.”
“We started as a lifestyle,” he said. “We sell compression stuff you can work out in and then apparel you can wear after you’re done. We’ve got t-shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies, hats. We wanted to make sure we covered all our bases.”
Bellator president Scott Coker said the deal makes perfect sense.
“He has a real savvy business mind and he wants to grow his apparel brand,” said Coker, who isn’t as quick to dismiss the possibility this could lead to Merriman stepping in the cage. “I said, ‘Look, why don’t we work together to help you build your brand and you can get out there and talk about Bellator and we can have a nice friendly relationship.
“And then if you ever want to fight one day, we can have you fight.”
Merriman was drafted 12th overall by the San Diego Chargers in the 2005 NFL Draft. He earned NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year honors in his first season and recorded 39 1⁄2 quarterback sacks in his first three seasons. He was hampered by injuries his next three seasons, and the Chargers waived Merriman mid-season in 2010. He was acquired through waivers by the Buffalo Bills that season, but he only played minimally with the Bills due to continued injuries. He was released by the Bills before the 2012 season before they re-signed him mid-season.