November 26th, 1960
Merriweather was a four-year starter and two-time All-Pacific Coast
Athletic Association performer at University of the Pacific, who racked up
312 career tackles (150 solos), five interceptions and 19 sacks…Second
team NEA All-American as a senior after being named Outstanding Defensive
Player and “Most Loyal and Most Inspirational” by his teammates.
Pledged Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity.
Finished second in PCAA Defensive Player of the Year balloting in
1981. Mike was selected for
and played in the Olympia Gold Bowl and East-West Shrine game.
was a third round draft choice of the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1982. Mike
excelled on and off the field during his tenure with the Steelers
[1982-1988]. As a rookie, Coach Chuck Noll and his staff said that Mike
was an exceptional young prospect who coaches felt had “star
potential” despite just one season of pro experience.
Mike saw more playing time in 1982 than any Steeler rookie
linebacker since Jack Lambert (1974). “An aggressive player with great size and the speed to make
big plays from sideline to sideline.”
Although he played primarily on the right side behind Robin Cole,
he was immediately moved to left outside linebacker by the defensive
coordinator where he was a starter in the depth chart when training camp
opened. Mike faced fierce
competition with fellow second-year linebackers Bryan Hinkle and Craig
Bingham, but Mike’s physical attributes and improvement in 1982 despite
players’ strike destined him for full-time duty.
Merriweather’s coaches say he ran like a proven veteran and was
surprisingly strong against the pass despite his inexperience.
As 1982 progressed, Mike replaced Ham in most passing situations
and ended the season with 17 total tackles (10 solos) in nine games and
was a starter in one game at right outside linebacker for Robin Cole
during pre-season against Baltimore (8/28/82).
was selected as a starter for the Pro Bowl in 1984, 1985 and 1986 as a
outside linebacker. In 1987,
Merriweather was the recipient of the 1987 Pittsburgh Steeler Most
Valuable Player Award by his teammates.
During his tenure with the players, Merriweather received numerous
“game balls” for his outstanding performances.
Both U.S. and international print and electronic media including
documentaries and an in Sports Illustrated that profiled him as the
“Sack King” have profiled highlights of his exceptional performances.
To date, Merriweather still holds the Pittsburgh Steeler single
season record with fifteen (15) sacks in 1984.
1988, Merriweather sat out the entire season as leverage to re-negotiate a
binding contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The first morning of the NFL draft in 1989, the Pittsburgh Steelers
traded Merriweather to the Minnesota Vikings for a first round draft
choice. Merriweather played
four (4) years with the Vikings before going to the New York Jets where is
played in 1993 and the Green Bay Packers in 1994 before retiring after
suffering a career-ending injury.
July 2002, Mike ended his “hold out” with the Pittsburgh Steelers and
reported to training camp in Latrobe, PA.
This time, Merriweather was privileged to train as a “scout
intern”. The opportunity
represents the professionalism and “class act” that both the Steelers
and Merriweather are both on and off the field.
2003, Merriweather returned to the East-West Shrine game.
This time, Mike was a defensive coach and mentor for some of the
nation’s most aspiring athletes.
the field, Merriweather is very active with community-based initiatives in
Minnesota, Pittsburgh and California, where he resides during the
off-season—giving freely of his time for appearances and his personal
assets towards addressing human needs and subsistence.
Mike has received numerous awards for his performances both on and
off the field. Some are the
prestigious Dapper Dan Award, the Boys and Girls Club Achievement Award.
2002, Mike established the John Merriweather Athletic Scholarship at his
former high school in Vallejo, CA, in memory of his father.
The recipient of the scholarship will exemplify outstanding
performances both in academics and community service.
has with three children, He is a devoted, father and extremely successful
entrepreneur in both the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors.
Despite Mike’s successes and devotion to his family, Mike is an
ordained minister and works with numerous youth outreach ministries
throughout the USA.