The interview actually was taped last month, but it didn’t air until Tuesday.
Merriman, a former Pro Bowl linebacker for the San Diego Chargers, was promoting his 11th Annual Lights On Foundation Coat Drive. Merriman has long promoted this charity. In past interviews to promote it, he has said he decided to do a coat drive because he was so poor growing up in Maryland that he remembered what it was like not having a coat during winter. He works hard to ensure others don’t have the same experience.
During the taped interview, Le Batard and Jones asked Merriman about his playing career. Things didn’t go as well when they began asking about his relationship with former MTV reality TV star Tila Tequila. As you’ll see in the video, towards the end of the interview, they begin asking Merriman about his life growing up. They obviously wanted to know more about him having two houses burn down while growing up, so they pursued the subject. After a few follow-up questions, Merriman began futzing with his earpiece and then walked out.
To this day, I haven’t seen an explanation from Merriman or his rep about why he walked out of the interview. LBS reached out to his rep for comment and did not receive a response.
The day the interview took place, Jones and Le Batard discussed what happened on Le Batard’s radio show. Le Batard speculated about what might have bothered Merriman.
“He didn’t like our questions about Tila Tequila. He didn’t like some of our questions,” Le Batard said.
Le Batard also noted that Merriman had some issues with the follow-up questions about the houses burning down, but he and Jones agreed that Merriman gave no hints that the line of questioning was troubling. Le Batard even speculated that Merriman’s publicist was the one encouraging him to end the interview. Le Batard noted that he’d had a previous run-in with the publicist over bankruptcy questions he asked Vince Young during a previous interview.
Apparently aware that the interview was airing on Tuesday, Merriman tweeted this:
Mr Walk off #LightsOut
— Shawne Merriman (@shawnemerriman) December 10, 2013
Many people have been critical of Le Batard for pressing Merriman and asking him about a difficult subject, but I don’t have any issue with what he did.
In my opinion, Le Batard is one of the best interviewers in sports media. I think he reads people extremely well, knows how to put them at ease, and then asks them great questions once they feel comfortable. That’s why he tends to get so much more out of his subjects than most people. And as he and Jones said on the radio, Merriman never gave a sign that he was bothered by the questions. For that reason, it wouldn’t surprise me to find out that his publicist is the one who cut the interview short.
They probably thought ESPN would edit out the awkward ending but they didn’t, leaving us with the priceless reactions from Jones and Le Batard:
H/T Shutdown CornerGoogle+