Cincinnati Bengals’ fans had heard it all before. They had suffered for long enough and they so desperately wanted to believe that their favorite organization had finally found its leading man to take them to the promise land.
After Boomer Esiason had taken the franchise to two Super Bowls in the 1980s, the Bengals, for lack of a more dramatic word, struggled to find a replacement signal caller in the ‘90s.
David Klingler was drafted to replace Esiason, but Klinger never paned out and the next highest draft pick used by the Bengals on a quarterback was Akili Smith. Smith was selected third overall in the ‘99 NFL Draft and was cut just three seasons later.
In between Klinger and Smith were a barrage of quarterbacks hardly worth mentioning and even a repeat performance by Esiason in ‘97. Jon Kitna was the only quarterback who performed halfway decent, but he wasn’t even a Bengal until ‘01.
The Cincinnati organization and its fans went through what is now called “the dark decade” in the 90s and it seemed that they were destined to be terrible forever.
Then came the ‘03 NFL Draft and the Bengals had the first overall selection. They went with Carson Palmer, the ‘02 Heisman Trophy winner who had a tremendous collegiate career at highly acclaimed USC. During his senior year, he finished as the Pac-10’s all-time leader in passing yards (11,818), completions (927) and total offense (11,621). He also finished with 72 career touchdown passes, which was eventually broken by Matt Leinart who threw for 99.
Cincinnati brought along the young quarterback slowly at first, making him watch and learn from Kitna, who won the NFL Comeback Player of the Year award and led the Bengals to a second place finish.
In the ‘04 offseason, the Bengals were ready to see what their highly paid new toy could do. Even though Palmer went through the usual rookie learning pains, the Bengals finished a respectable 8-8, which was good for third in the AFC North. Palmer threw for 2,897 yards, 18 touchdowns, and 18 interceptions in 13 games.
In ’05, Palmer took his place as an NFL elite and stepped up as the new face of the Bengals organization. He led Cincy to an 11-5 record and an AFC North title, the team’s first division championship since ‘90. In doing so, he became the first Bengals quarterback to finish with a 100+ passer rating.
He also tied Peyton Manning for most consecutive games with a triple digit passer rating while leading the NFL in completion percentage. Palmer set a Bengals’ franchise record by throwing a league-leading 32 touchdown passes as well as a franchise mark for highest passer rating in a season.
Bengals’ fans were finally given their hero, one that they’ve been waiting for nearly a decade. Their fate, however, would come back to haunt them, when the Bengals hosted the AFC Divisional Playoff match up with the Pittsburgh Steelers. On just his first pass attempt of the game, Palmer dropped back and threw a 66-yard reception to Chris Henry. The completion was the longest play in Bengals playoff history, but it came with devastating ending.
As Henry celebrated his catch, all eyes were on Palmer as he grasped his leg in utter pain. On the play, Steelers defensive lineman Kimo von Oelhoffen stumbled out of his first step and lunged at Palmer’s legs, tearing both the anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his knee.
The Bengals eventually lost the game and received even worse news afterwards from doctors who treated Palmer’s injury. One doctor would call the injury ‘devastating to his career’ and the thought of Palmer never playing again was a very real possibility.
Although Palmer couldn’t compete, he was selected to the ’06 Pro Bowl. He successfully rehabbed in time to compete in the ’06 regular season opener, but the Bengals were inconsistent throughout the year and didn’t make a return to the postseason.
The Bengals once again failed to make the postseason in 2007, and many question the pschye of the locker room. Palmer was inconsistant at times and seemed to get frustrated with receivers Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh. While there's no question Palmer is still an elite quarterback, changes might be forthcoming for the Bengals' organziation.
Cincinnati Bengals: Carson Palmer
The official website of the Cincinnati Bengals provides a small bio on their starting quarterback with a career highlight section as well as a personal and college section.
NFL.com: Carson Palmer
Small bio on Palmer, but the true value of this site from NFL.com is the amount of stats they provide on Carson.
Rotoworld Player Page: Carson Palmer
Rotoworld.com has some of the best fantasy reporting and advice on the web. Click on the “Previous News” tab to get current and past information on Carson Palmer for your fantasy football team.
Carson Palmer Wikipedia Page
Find a comprehensive background on Carson Palmer's life and football career at Wikipedia.com.
Latest on Palmer
Whille Palmer had a solid 2007 season, he was also wildly inconsistant, too. He finished with 4,131 yards and 26 touchdowns, but he also threw 20 interceptions, including four in a 35-27 loss to the Cardinals in Week 11. Questions have surfaced whether or not one of Palmer's favorite targets, Chad Johnson, will be traded in the offseason.
News and Commentary
Doctor: Palmer knee injury ‘potentially career-ending’
This article from ESPN.com broke the news that Palmer’s knee injury suffered in the AFC Divisional Playoff Round against the Pittsburgh Steelers could be potentially career ending. Obviously, Palmer did eventually recover from the injury to play in the '06 regular season.
Palmer getting eye of the tiger under center in Cincy
In his first start of the season in 2005, Palmer dismantled the Browns like a 10-year veteran quarterback, rather than just a third year pro.
Palmer wins every region expect Midwest
Carson Palmer gave the University of Southern California yet another Heisman Trophy winner, successfully capping an amazing collegiate career.
Carson Palmer’s early days in 2004 started in training camp where the second-year pro had to develop a rapport with his receivers, get comfortable with the offense playbook and learn how to exceed expectations.
Palmer, Bengals convert mega deal
In early 2005, the Bengals made sure their franchise quarterback was taken care of as they signed Palmer through the 2014 season.
On developing in the NFL:
“It took me longer than what I wanted, ... but I started to feel better about my abilities. I started to feel confident about myself as the year went on. Things really start to slow down. You start to process information faster at the line of scrimmage. You can do it in college, but college is a whole different world from the pros.”
On winning the Heisman Trophy in 2002:
''My heart's about to come out of my shirt. This has been amazing, this whole journey through this season.''
"I personally believe that professional athletes should give back to their communities in any way possible. We are in a position to make a difference."