Now that it is confirmed that Shawne Merriman has two torn ligaments in his knee, there is no doubt in my mind that he should balk at the San Diego Chargers' attempts to talk him into playing this season.
With a torn PCL (AND LCL—which I've never heard of), his knee is not going to be nearly as stable as it normally would be. If those ligaments tear all the way and the condition of his knee degenerates, well, he will never be the player he was again.
Merriman should immediately have season-ending reconstructive surgery to repair his knee, so that he can come back as good as new, rather than degrade his ability on the football field and at the negotiation table.
The bottom line is that it is in his best interest to take care of himself now and comeback strong next season. As a Charger fan, I've seen it repeatedly take place: The Chargers put themselves before the individual (Drew Brees anyone?) and will not hesitate to let Merriman walk if his play is degraded by this injury.
People forget that it was the tough guy, Steve Foley, that came in and allowed Wade Phillips to transform San Diego's defense from a passive group to an "in your face, we do what we want to and you can stop us" bunch of jerks that offenses hate.
As soon as Foley was shot in the knee and lost that explosiveness, the Chargers dropped him. It didn't matter how he inspired the defense or how tough he was. It didn't matter that he was the heart and soul of the defense. Shaun Phillips stepped in, the defense didn't miss a beat, and Foley has been forgotten.
The heck with the Chargers. The charitable Merriman needs to think about himself for a change. He can't be the All-Pro caliber Shawne Merriman without that trademark explosiveness, so he needs that knee at 100 percent.
If you don't think that a balky knee can derail a player, look no further than the one-legged LaDainian Tomlinson being easily contained by Tedy Bruschi in the AFC Championship Game. A guy that Tomlinson so easily evaded six seasons ago, to the point that I thought the now-35-year old, lead-footed Bruschi was 35 back then.
Tomlinson is vastly superior to the player he was six seasons ago, and Bruschi is 35-years old. Need I say more?
Merriman has already proved that he is tough by playing on that knee against the Dallas Cowboys. Now, enough is enough. Merriman is only 24-years old; he will have at least another seven or eight years of Pro-Bowl caliber seasons ahead of him, even if he misses this season.
Without Merriman in the fold, the Chargers would likely look to the undrafted pass rushing phenom Jyles Tucker to get in the quarterback's face. Tucker has been a huge problem for offensive coordinators since his first start against the Oakland Raiders in the final game of last season.