Webster's Dictionary lists the definition of pride as a high or inordinate opinion of one's own dignity, importance, merit, or superiority, whether as cherished in the mind or as displayed in bearing, conduct, etc. It also lists: "foolishness as resulting from or showing a lack of sense, ill-considered, and unwise."
Next to both of these definitions sits a picture of San Diego Chargers' All-Pro linebacker Shawne Merriman. Okay, so the last part may not be true, but you couldn’t blame Webster’s if they considered including Merriman’s portrait in their next edition, following his decision to play this season with two partially-torn ligaments in his left knee.
It is Merriman’s own foolish pride that is spurring this decision. He figures that if surgeon’s were so amazed that he finished last season going on one bad knee, that perhaps he should tempt fate once more by playing the whole season as a human unicycle.
Merriman is doing this in the face of what should be the most terrifying words in the English language to any professional athlete: career-ending injury.
Three seasons into an already amazing career in which Merriman has registered 39.5 sacks (more than any other NFL player in the last three seasons), he is willing to risk an entire career to play a fourth instead of sitting it out so he will be able to play a 14th.
He’s met with plenty of surgeons that all have told him the same thing: To have major surgery and take the year off, or minor surgery and miss most of the season. Yet, it only took one to tell him that he can play on it and all of a sudden that seems like the best decision to him.
After all, we know that’s what Merriman is hoping to make: the best decision for himself, his career, and for his team. He even told that to the media while considering what to do. If Merriman considers this the best decision, then perhaps he should have his head checked by doctors as well.
The Chargers' organization needs to step in and tell their star that he’s getting the surgery. While the organization is set to win a championship now, it looks like they are going to stay that way for a while.
Give Merriman the time off, see how the team does, and hope he can make it back for the playoffs. Then you get him at around 90 percent, with a small chance for injury, instead of 80-90 percent with a high chance for a major injury.
Shawne Merriman is arguably the best defensive player in the NFL, and in his three-year career, he has already shown Hall of Fame potential. It would be a shame to see him crumpled up on the field in Week One against Carolina, while the commentator’s are rehashing the injury, saying it’s the worst thing they’ve seen since Joe Theismann.
With that having been said, maybe Merriman does play out the season, maybe he even has a semi-decent year, but the smart money says that Merriman doesn’t finish the season uninjured.