Play At Your Own Risk

Far be it for me to criticize a player’s decision about his own personal health, no matter what the sport. None of us are privy to the full information Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman got from his doctors regarding those two ligaments in his leg, but when I hear or read the words “possibly career-ending” attached to any aspect of the report, I hope the Gigantor isn’t making the wrong decision when he says he’s going to play hurt.

This mentailty is part of the NFL culture, it’s part and parcel of what we love about football at all levels, whether high school, college, or pro: these are gladiators who wnat to play, no matter how badly the bruising and nicking gets.

But this is a league where there are no guaranteed contracts, where you can be cut on a whim, and even if you play hurt, management can come back to you after the season and say, “Well, your numbers were down, you played hurt, but we have to consider your injury history.”

If I were Merriman, I’d have shut it down for the year and hoped to come back at full strength. But I’m not him — I don’t have that drive and ego necessary to be a pro athlete at the top of his game. And for all the crap he deservedly took after testing positive for steroids, I hope he makes it through without making it worse.

No one wants to see a career go down the tubes unnecessarily.

Injured Merriman opts to begin season [San Diego Union-Tribune]

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