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Catching up with: Sam Merriman

Posted Nov 24, 2013

Playing for the Seahawks was not Sam Merriman’s first rodeo – literally – but the linebacker from Arizona and Idaho became a special-teams standout for the first playoff teams in franchise history.

Sam Merriman was in town recently as part of the 30th-anniversary celebration for the first playoff team in Seahawks’ history. That’s when we caught up with the team’s seventh-round draft choice from 1983:

What he did: Selected in the seventh round of the 1983 NFL Draft as a linebacker out of Idaho, Merriman became a standout performer on the Rusty Tillman-coached special-teams units before a devastating knee injury ended his career in 1986. Merriman led the 1984 team that went 12-4 with 21 coverage tackles, the club record until Michael Bates had 22 in 1993 – and still tied for the fourth-most in franchise history behind Jay Bellamy (34 in 1996), Josh Scobey (23 in 2005) and Bates and Tim Hauck (22 in 1997). Merriman’s career ended abruptly, when he got a gruesome knee injury while covering the overtime kickoff in a preseason game at the Silverdome against the Detroit Lions. “Dave (Krieg) and I were talking about that last night, and he didn’t realize the extent of what that injury was,” Merriman said. “Basically, the bottom half of my leg was just being held on by the skin. Everything had been mangled. They were talking about, ‘Oh, you have x-number of hours before we have to amputate.’ ”

What he’s doing: After coaching football at Inglemoor High School for 15 years, Merriman moved back to Tucson, Ariz., where he was born and grew up. “I flip homes right now,” he said. “I actually see the sun now, so that’s pretty cool. I raised my daughter here, but when she took off for college I was kind of free to go back to Arizona.”

Quick hits

If I could have dinner with anyone – living or dead – it would be: “Probably Abraham Lincoln. I think he had to deal with a changing society that most people didn’t have to deal with and try to keep a country together. So that’s a pretty amazing feat.”

Must-see TV: “I don’t own a TV. I haven’t owned a TV for seven or eight years.”

The best book I’ve ever read: “ ‘Che.’ About Che Guevara. Again, it’s because of his strong personality. I don’t necessarily agree with what he was doing politically, but to see someone with that kind of resolve was just amazing.”

You don’t say

My best memory as a Seahawk is: “Getting to walk across the field and talk to Jack Lambert (the Steelers’ Hall of Fame linebacker). He was my hero as I was growing up. So to be able to actually shake his hand and have a conversation with him, and actually touch your hero as an adult, that was pretty nice.”

Something most people don’t know about me: “That I grew up rodeoing. It’s still a huge passion that I wish I would have gotten back into. But now that football has beat up my body I don’t dare think about it.”

If I could relive one day in my life: “The day my daughter, Morgan, was born – May 16, 1991. And it’s just because she’s grown up to be such an awesome kid. And everything I had hoped for in my kid, she’s that.”