Shawn Merriman see the fine line, and jumps across

From the Sporting Blog.

There is a fine line between toughness and stupidity.

Some things in this world you simply cannot explain. This is one of them: Shawne Merriman has decided to play this season. As you know, he has two torn ligaments in his knee. Four doctors have told him he needs to have reconstructive surgery, like, yesterday. And despite this, he’s going to risk his entire career and millions of dollars to play football this year.

Don’t get me wrong, I admire the man’s toughness (or whatever) to play through this substantial injury. But the exchange rate on toughness to American dollars is actually nothing. When his numbers inevitably suffer this season, because he’s playing on one leg, the Chargers -- or any other team considering signing Merriman -- are going to obviously use that against him when his rookie contract expires after the ’09 season, assuming they don’t cut him before then.

"I'll deal with it when it's time to get surgery,” Merriman said. Well, um, when exactly does he think that time is, if it’s not now? At the latest, I’d say it’s next offseason, at which point he’ll have to go play his contract year on a rehabilitated knee. Why not have the surgery now and take this season off? Then he can come back in top-condition for the ’09 season, put up huge numbers again, and then sign a free agent deal for more money than God?

Perhaps the worst part of all this is that the team is clearly using Merriman’s pride to their advantage. If they really cared about what’s best for Merriman’s future -- both physically and monetarily -- they’d force him to have the surgery now. But, they have nothing to lose by letting him play this season. If he sucks, they bench him. If he further injuries himself, he has the surgery mid-season. If he, by some miracle, performs well, then great -- he’ll help them win games. Although based on the fact that San Diego signed Merriman’s back-up to a five-year extension on Monday, I’d say they aren’t counting on the end game being a pretty one for Merriman.

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