Three-time Pro Bowl linebacker Shawne "Lights Out" Merriman is retiring from football, according to a statement made on his personal website Tuesday night. "After a lengthy discussion with my agent, family and team, I have officially decided to put my retirement papers in today," Merriman said in the statement. "My retirement from the game I love so much and from the game that has brought me so many opportunities on and off the field has been decided with great thought for my future on and off the field. "I retire today not because I don't feel I can still go out there and play the game at a very high level, I am retiring because I want to retire on my own terms and leave while I know I can still physically play the game." Merriman, 28, played eight seasons in the NFL after being drafted by the San Diego Chargers with 12th overall selection of the 2005 NFL draft. He registered 10 sacks as a rookie, made the Pro Bowl and was named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. Merriman continued to terrorize opposing offenses in his second season, recording a career-best 17 sacks in just 12 games. He was suspended four games after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. He posted 12.5 sacks in his third season, but it would be the last Pro Bowl-caliber season of his career Merriman suffered a serious knee injury in 2008 and his career was never the same thereafter. He recorded just six sacks during the next four injury-riddled seasons, two of which came with the Buffalo Bills after the Chargers cut him in 2010. Merriman played just 15 games in 2011 and 2012 with the Bills. Merriman earned the nickname "Lights Out" for his hard-hitting style and ability to get to the quarterback. "I feel truly blessed to have been part of the NFL and to have had the opportunity of a lifetime," Merriman added in the statement. "I am excited to pursue my other career opportunities and look forward to what is on the horizon for me."
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