In Story Time, athletes share random stories from their career with little context. For this edition, we asked former San Diego Chargers teammates Shawne Merriman and Nick Hardwick to each separately provide their versions of the same event. Warning: may contain adult language.
It’s the middle of a game week, and we’re at the Chargers facility early for team meetings. Our defensive meeting ends early, so I decide to go hit the gym for a few minutes.
I’m walking to the gym, and it’s pretty much a ghost town. It’s about 8 AM, and most of the guys are still in other meetings. I walk past the floor-to-ceiling glass windows that look into the gym, and just like the rest of the facility, it’s pretty much empty.
Except for one guy: our then-300-pound center, Nick Hardwick.
And he’s literally butt-ass naked, wearing nothing but tennis shoes and his tattoos, doing squats.
What in the hell is he doing?!
I don’t even know how to react. I want to say something. I mean, I have so many questions. But what do you say to someone who’s squatting butt-naked? That’s a conversation I just don’t know how to have.
(Believe me, if I had a picture, it would be right here — or you would have seen it already.)
Instead, I freakin’ lose it. I’m literally on all fours laughing, crying so hard I can barely stand up. I never even make it into the weight room. I just run to tell the other guys, Yo, go check out your boy Nick …
We had a lot of guys like that in the locker room — real characters who were hilarious. There was never a dull moment. And whether he was in uniform or butt-ass naked (which was kind of his thing), Nick was always one of those guys.
I found nudity was usually a really great way to break the ice. Not even break the ice, but break the monotony of the day and the season. During the season, the weeks just get so long …
Sometimes I would show up to a special teams meeting uninvited. I’d walk in butt naked, and go up and give the special teams coordinator a hug. A big, butt-naked hug. Then I’d leave.
A lot of my best stories come from me being naked.
In this instance — I think it was in between meetings or something — I walked by the weight room and thought, I’m just gonna go in here and get naked. I went in and stripped my clothes, like it was the natural thing to do, and started squatting as guys were passing through the weight room. The only thing I was wearing were my tennis shoes because you gotta squat with shoes on, right?
Don’t ask me why, but it was actually something I’d always wanted to do. And to be honest, squatting naked was kinda thrilling. It was invigorating.
Part of it was shock factor. I wanted guys to see me, and Shawne just happened to be one of the guys who passed through the weight room that morning.
I remember it being pretty hysterical. I just really enjoyed entertaining myself, especially during those long midseason weeks. And if anybody else got a kick out of it, then good for them.
Sounds like Shawne sure did.