Former San Diego Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman left ESPN's Bomani Jones and Dan LeBatard in the lurch on Tuesday when he stood up and abruptly left an interview during the network's "Highly Questionable" program.
As Jones and LeBatard's shocked faces might suggest, the impetus for Merriman's sudden departure is hard to pinpoint. Merriman was appearing on the program to promote his charity's 11th annual coat drive and the two hosts were interviewing Merriman about his childhood, which included battles with homelessness.
According to The Lights On Foundation's web page, Merriman was "the victim of two house fires (as a child), and he was left homeless as a result of these incidents." Jones and LeBatard were asking Merriman for more details about one of the fires when Merriman stood up from his chair, took out his earpiece and left the set after saying thank you.
Watching the clip, I think it's hard to blame Merriman for bailing. While Jones and LeBatard were well within their rights to ask Merriman about the experiences that caused him to start a charity for the homeless, neither looks remotely sympathetic to Merriman's personal plight. Quite frankly, both looked like they were doing a buffoonish, SNL-type sendup of two sports journalists who were overmatched by their subject.
Merriman later had this to say on Twitter:
UPDATE: This interview was taped last month. Dan LeBatard later talked on his radio show about the situation and said Merriman's publicists were upset at the duo about the line of questioning, which also included queries about Merriman's former girlfriend Tila Tequila. "It was really confusing to us," LeBatard said. "Never in our history of our show have Bomani and I simultaneously been so confused."