The Cincinnati Bengals and Carson Palmer have irreconcilable differences.
The former Heisman Trophy winner and No. 1 overall pick is fed up with losing. He wants to be traded or he’s going to retire.
Let me be clear: Palmer’s not a quitter. He’s a tough guy who’s played through injuries and genuinely wants to win, so I can’t see him calling it a career.
Team owner and president Mike Brown, son of football titan Paul Brown, is a shrewd business man. He is not a football man. Mike has already told Palmer the team will not trade him.
Until Mike kicks the can, the team will continue to be the opposite of fan- and player-friendly. Players like Palmer will have their souls stolen, continuing the trend of “Bengalization.”
Palmer has been a good soldier for the team and coach Marvin Lewis adores him. Heck, I bet if Lewis has another son, he’ll name the wee lad Carson.
There were a few fabulous moments during the Carson Era. The 2005 team was exciting on both sides of the ball, and a bona fide Super Bowl contender. But all that hope was washed away when Pittsburgh defensive tackle Kimo von Oelhoffen mutilated three of Palmer’s left knee ligaments in the 2005 wild-card playoff game.
And who can forget 2009, when Palmer handed off to Cedric Benson time after time as the Bengals relied on their run game and stout defense to sweep the AFC North and win the division?
But No. 9 has never been a leader since he joined the pro ranks. Palmer and Lewis have let diva wide receivers T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens run the locker room.
Palmer put up with their “me first” attitudes and sideline temper tantrums when they weren’t thrown the ball. He should have gotten in their faces and said, “This is my team. You don’t like how I run the show? Get lost. And if you shoot your mouth off again, I’m going to rearrange your face.”
I spent time in the Bengals’ locker room this summer, and I got a chance to talk to Palmer. He’s a great guy and true family man. But I never got the sense that the Bengals were his team, that his leadership could be felt in the locker room.
On the field, the former Southern California Trojan has been mediocre for the last few years. Palmer threw 20 interceptions in two of his last three full seasons. In his six years as a starter, he has only played in two playoff games.
Palmer’s agent David Dunn had a few words to say about the Palmer-Bengals partnership.
“Carson met with Bengals owner Mike Brown recently,” Dunn said in a statement Monday. “Because of the lack of success that Carson and the Bengals have experienced together, Carson strongly feels that a separation between him and the Bengals would be in the best interest of both parties.”
It might sound crazy, but it ain’t no lie — time to say, “Bye Bye Bye.”