Tomorrow, the Pats face the San Diego Chargers for a chance to go to the AFC Championship game. The talk all week has been Antonio Gates and LaDainian Tomlinson, and then some more LaDainian Tomlinson and Antonio Gates. When the Charger defense is brought up, the only name you hear is Shawne Merriman.

Merriman is the San Diego outside linebacker with prolific skills in getting to the opposing quarterback and bringing him down. He complied 17 sacks in just 12 games. Wait, 12 games? Was he injured? No, he was suspended for violating the NFL substance abuse policy, specifically, he tested positive for steroids.

For some reason in the world of football, this doesn’t seem to be such a grievous offense as it is in baseball. San Diego fans and the national media don’t even bring it up. The more audacious act was Merriman showing up for a post-game interview shortly after his return wearing a tank-top. As if to say, f–k off NFL, I’m big and bad and your suspension doesn’t mean shite.

Just how far is San Diego from San Francisco?