I've always been respectful of a player's decision to try and play through an injury.
Shawne Merriman is taking that too far.
When all the doctors he could find -- and he's asked plenty of them -- tell him the same thing, that season-ending knee surgery is the right course of action for the two torn ligaments in his left knee, there's no way Merriman should even attempt to play.
Yet Merriman, the San Diego Chargers' elite pass rusher, will ignore the advice of the doctors he solicited and attempt to play this season.
Merriman does have some accelerators in his contract, which could mean an additional $1.5 million added to the $2.8 million in escalators he's made already, money that will be added onto his 2009 salary. The 2009 season is the final year of his contract, which should be even more reason not to play.
San Diego will likely still give him a major deal next spring if he doesn't play. No team wants their premier player going into the final year of a deal without a new contract. Why risk it? There's a huge payday coming his way.
The Chargers' brass, which means general manager A.J. Smith, should tell him to have the surgery. Insist on it, in fact. Yes, the Chargers are Super Bowl contenders. But they're a young team. The window is open for a couple more years. A career-ending injury for Merriman might help shut it.
Merriman is the franchise defensive player for the Chargers. There's no way he should be risking it. His explosive speed might be gone if he tears up the knee for good.
Maybe he saw Philip Rivers play on a torn ACL in the AFC Championship last January, but that was one game.
With each additional game, there is more potential for long-term damage.
Stop him, Chargers.
It's one thing to play through pain. It's an entirely different situation when the future of a star player could be in jeopardy, and that could be the case with Merriman.