The Boston Herald’s Gerry Callahan likes to talk tough when it comes to PED’s, but he’s even more outraged about the Bolts’ Shawne Merriman wearing a wifebeater on national TV last weekend.

The San Diego Chargers are 14-2. They are the top seed in the top conference, and of the eight remaining teams, they are the favorites to be standing in Miami on Feb. 4, holding the Lombardi Trophy as Super Bowl champs.

And if it unfolds that way over the next three weeks, we have to wonder: Will they vote Shawne Merriman™s dealer a playoff share?

When Merriman appeared on TV at halftime of the Patriots-Jets game, Shannon Sharpe asked if Merriman, sporting a neat spaghetti-strapped top, would have won the NFL defensive player of the year if he hadn™t missed those four games. Ah, Shannon? There is a reason the voters held that four-game absence against Merriman. He didn™t sit out with a pulled hammy. He cheated and got caught, and now he™s so full of remorse that he showed up on your show looking like he was posing for the cover of Muscle and Fitness magazine.

The real question should have been: Would you be this good without the juice?

œI think it hurt me as far as sacks and things like that, said Merriman about his four-game absence. œBut I think we did a pretty good job of winning while I was out, and I think that™s the biggest reason why we™re at where we™re at now.

Well, that and the fact your performance-enhancing substances worked wonders for the 12 games you were in there. Merriman had a league-leading 17 sacks this year and was as much of a difference-maker as any player in the NFL. If an asterisk belongs next to Bonds™ or McGwire™s power numbers, how does it not belong next to the Chargers™ 14 wins?

Somewhere Mark McGwire must be kicking himself. Right drug, wrong sport.

While I think Callhan makes a cogent point (for once), I’m not sure I agree with putting an asterisk next to San Diego’s 2006 record.  They’re already at a competitive disadvantage with Marty Schottenheimer calling the shots, so the odd break here and there shouldn’t be that big a deal.