The Chargers’ linebacker has decided against the advice of four doctors and elected to play this season with two torn ligaments in his left knee. Shawn says, “I just want to play football.” Noble words, but there is a fine line between bravery and stupidity and Merriman is lights out dancing down it. The Chargers are no doubt one of the favorites in the AFC this year, but after the way Philip Rivers was hopping around against the Seahawks, and the uncertainty of LT’s health this seems an unnecessary move. Antonio Gates is also returning from a toe injury and says he is not 100% yet either. Merriman may feel like this is San Diego’s year but he is 24 years old, should he really risk the rest of his career for one season?
The tears in his knee are the posterior cruciate and lateral collateral ligaments. For you non-anatomy majors the PCL runs back across the knee and the LCL is located on the outside of the knee running from top to bottom. The ACL (anterior cruciate) is the cousin of the PCL, and it crosses over in front of the knee and is the one you hear most when it comes to knee injuries. The ACL is what allows the fast cutting and change of direction in the knee. The final ligament is the MCL (medial collateral ligament) which is located on the side of the knee closest to the middle of your body, so in this case the right side of Shawne’s left knee. The MCL is also most often injured because of the way the knee is built and the direction from which it takes collision.
In short, Merriman is fortunate in that the two of the four ligaments torn are the ones are the less essential to what he does on the football field. If his ACL was torn, there would be no way he could play. This does not mean he should run out there and play though. The knee is the most precarious and fragile joint of the body when it comes to sports. It is held together by these four ligaments, and two of Shawne’s are unstable. Yes at the moment he can play on them, but if he is hit the wrong way, it could blow his knee out completely. That would be the reason that the doctors have been saying that “career-ending” phrase to Merriman.
I can’t imagine why at 24 Merriman would risk the rest of his career. Perhaps it is that he feels the urgency of this being San Diego’s year, but with Brady and Manning standing there and the other fragile knees on the roster, I don’t get that one. Maybe it is that Shawne is willing to risk his football days being over because he wants to live the celebrity life. Everytime you turn around Shawne is on a different TV show. I was counting down the best beach bodies on the E! channel and then Shawne came in for analysis. He is co-hosting FSN’s Pro Football Preview show as well. He appeared on numerous spots on ESPN throughout the summer, maybe he should have been getting his knee checked out. His choice might just be based on arrogance, here is a person who got caught with steroids and didn’t flinch and created a ridiculous celebration dance anytime he makes a tackle. Whatever the case, it has many people in the football industry shaking their heads. If he makes it through the year unscathed and the Chargers get to the Super Bowl, then we doubters look the fool, but it may just blow up in his face like a block from Maurice Jones-Drew.