Carson Palmer has brass balls
Cold, Hard Football Facts for Jul 28, 2006
Note: This story originally ran back on July 29, after Cincy quarterback Carson Palmer declared his hatred for all things Pittsburgh. It upped the ante on today's big Bengals-Steelers game at Pittsburgh and prompted
responses from around the country.
Even Carson Palmer's dad, Bill, a corporate executive in California, wrote to the Cold, Hard Football Facts:
"I'm (Carson's) father and I love the picture in your article, as well as the article."
The picture, by the way, came from this online catalog, which sells those style posters for many NFL stars.
The Cold, Hard Football Facts dig Carson Palmer for his big-time numbers. He led the league last year in TD passes (32) and completion percentage (67.8) while placing second in passer rating (101.1) – in just his third year in the league.
The Cold, Hard Football Facts dig Palmer because he's helped resurrect a laughingstock franchise. The Bengals last year fielded their first winning team in 15 (fifteen!) f'in years and won the AFC North ahead of the eventual Super Bowl champion Steelers (a division title unexpected by most "pundits" but that was brazenly and accurately predicted last summer by the Cold, Hard Football Facts).
The Cold, Hard Football Facts dig Palmer for the way he's fought back from the physically and psychologically devastating knee injury he suffered last year against Pittsburgh – in a home playoff game that was the biggest NFL contest in Cincinnati in some two decades. Palmer believes he'll be ready for Cincy's Sept. 10 opener against Kansas City.
The Cold, Hard Football Facts dig Palmer today not for his ability to throw the football, but because he's thrown caution to the wind and thrown down the gauntlet on the 2006 season.
In a recent interview on the NFL Network, Palmer was asked by former NFL superstar Ron Woodson for his thoughts on defending Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh.
"I hate Pittsburgh," said Palmer. "I don't like them. I don't like their colors. I don't like their fans."
No need for any follow-up questions. Palmer knows where he stands on the topic of Pittsburgh. And now we all know, too.
Palmer's response was a refreshingly candid moment – and virtually unheard of in modern pro sports.
The Cold, Hard Football Facts mostly dig Palmer because he's taken the politically correct "we're all union brothers" mantra that dominates discourse between professional athletes these days and drop-kicked it through the uprights of old-fashioned animosity.
There was a time when players could reasonably expect to spend the bulk of their careers with a single team. Sure, players were traded and moved to other teams. But not at the rate we see today in the Salary Cap Era, when very good players who teams truly want to keep are routinely cut because younger players can do half the job at a quarter of the price. Ultimately, it's made the league a more competitive place and made it one in which smart management usually wins the day.
But the Salary Cap Era has also cauterized the Old School blood feud that once existed between rival players. Sure, rivalries still exist, but often only in the minds of fans and local media. You guys there in Oakland may get a little more worked up when Kansas City comes to town because you remember those great clashes between Lamonica and Dawson back in the day. But players rarely share the same institutional memory as the fans.
As a result, the performers of today don't want to call out their opponents because – for all they know – they'll be playing with those very same guys next week or next year.
Palmer doesn't give a shit. He hates the defending Super Bowl champion. He hates their colors. And, yes, he hates their fans.
God Bless him, because Carson Palmer has brass balls. He's not only called out his union "brothers," he's called out some of the most vocal fans in pro football.
Palmer and the Bengals head to Pittsburgh on Sept. 24 to face the team and the fans that he professes to hate. It should be quite a scene. The defending champs versus the team that bested them for the division title and a quarterback who's now shed blood, sweat and tears in the battle.
It's just what the antiseptic NFL needs: an old-fashioned blood feud. The Cold, Hard Football Facts have already marked their calendar.
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