Carson Palmer on Refusing to Play For Bengals: “I definitely realized it was a selfish decision that I was making…but it was time to move on.”

October 27, 2011 – 8:30 am by Michael Bean

It’s of course to soon to pass judgment on the trade executed by the Oakland Raiders and Cincinnati Bengals last week. Obviously the price tag was enormous — two first round draft picks for a quarterback over the age of 30 — but if Palmer can help the Raiders get to the playoffs, say, two of the next three years… Wait, what am I saying. There is no way to defend this trade, period. Palmer certainly looked rusty in his debut this past Sunday. He threw three interceptions on 8-of-21 passing after relieving the helpless Kyle Boller, who only needed 14 pass attempts to throw his 3 picks on the afternoon.

Frankly, I’m shocked that Hue Jackson would play Palmer just a few short days after he was signed. I suppose that’s the only way to begin taking the important first steps towards learning a new offense and getting his system readjusted to the physical and mental speed of the game.  But Palmer and the Raiders now have two weeks to prepare before playing next in Week 9 at home against the Broncos. I wonder how important it really was for a veteran like Palmer to get in a sloppy half of football at the risk of being hounded by the media and perhaps even allowing a bit of self-doubt to creep in before getting to play again in two weeks.

Palmer joined KNBR in San Francisco to talk about the challenges of getting himself acclimated with the Raiders offense when there’s so much less practice time this year under the terms of the new CBA, how strange it was to be playing so soon after being signed, so soon in fact that he didn’t even know the names of most of his teammates, the difference between being in shape and getting in football shape, what he’d say to Raiders fans who questioned adding a player that would quit on his franchise and team like Palmer did in Cincinnati, if he had doubts about Mike Brown not flinching and refusing to trade him which would have meant sitting out all of 2011, what he missed most while waiting to learn his future, reuniting with Hue Jackson who he first met while being recruited by USC at the age of 17.

On the challenges of getting caught up to speed considering the limitations on practice time in the new CBA:

“Well you do a little bit. Those days off are just days off from coaches, so you have to have a certain number of days off from them. But I’m still getting together with all the receivers; basically the receivers, tight ends and running backs up until Friday. So that rule is just as far as practice is concerned, but I can still go out and get a lot of work in with these guys without coaches around.”

How strange was it to be playing so soon when he didn’t even have time to get to know all of his teammates’ names:

“There’s not a word to describe what was going on. I had only been there a couple of days, and I knew my center’s name and my right tackle’s name and Darren McFadden’s name, but other than that, everyone comes up and says hey and you just kind of go ‘hey what’s up man?’ You don’t know their names, and you feel bad about not knowing their names because you kept saying what’s up.  Because of that it was a weird, weird day, but it was great to be back playing football again.”

On getting in football shape and taking his first hit in quite some time this late in the season:

“Football shape is like John Madden said it — you get in football shape by playing football. You can get in shape, but being in football shape is different than any shape. So that’s what I’m working on right now. As far as getting hit, that’s the only good thing I took from the game last week. Just to get knocked down a couple times, get my pants dirty and get back up. But I’ve been getting hit a lot of years and I’ve been playing quarterback a long time. So it’s kind of like riding a bike — you never really forget that feeling; you’re always used to it; you get back on the back and you keep going.”

If he could explain to Raiders fans why he decided to walk out and quit on the Bengals:

“Well it’s  been a long eight years. I’ve been through a lot, seen a lot within that organization, and just decided. I definitely realized it was a selfish decision that I was making. I talked about it a lot with my family and decided that I’d like to continue to play but it was time to move on. And it was time for them to move on. I’m just excited and happy and blessed to be in the situation I’m in now playing for Coach Jackson and with this organization. I’m excited where this one is headed, and it’s also good where the Bengals organization is headed — they’re headed in a great direction, they’ve got a good young nucleus of players, they’re playing really well, and I think it worked out well for both organizations.”

If he thought that Mike Brown might not budge in his stance which would have kept Palmer out of the game all year:

“Yeah I thought that as soon as teams kicked off in Week 1. I actually thought I might not get a chance to play this year, I didn’t think he was going to do it and was hoping for next year. But if that was what it was going to take, that’s what it was going to take. But fortunately I got the chance to play this year.”

And what was he thinking when he was sitting around wondering if he was going to play this year:

“It was rough. I’m not going to lie and say it was easy. I think the hardest part…actually I don’t know what the hardest part was, there were a lot of hard parts, but one of them was just missing out on the competition of the game. Because practice is competitive, getting in the weight room with the guys is competitive, whatever it may be, I miss that for sure. But I also miss just throwing the ball around and being in the locker room with guys. Just small things. So it wasn’t easy, but I’m blessed and happy it worked out.”

On reuniting with Hue Jackson who Palmer has known since his high school days:

“Oh we definitely have some history. Hue’s known me since I was 17 years old and recruited me out of high school and was coaching me in high school. It’s just great to be back with him, and there’s a handful of guys I’ve worked out with in the offseason that are familiar faces. So it’s really been a good fit, and being a California kid, I know enough about the history of the organization and the passion of the fan base and know enough about the Raider Nation and have a ton of respect it and am honored to be a part of it.”

Is he ready to play in front of the wild and crazy fans that descend on The Coliseum for Raiders home games:

“I got a little taste of it last week, and I’ve tasted it before being the opposition. And it’s a huge advantage because it’s loud, it’s intense, it’s unlike any other stadium or atmosphere in the league. And when you’re on the right side of that and you’re playing for the home team, it’s a tremendous advantage. I don’t even know if the fans really realize how much of an advantage it truly is. But we love it, and we love it when it’s sold out, and we love it when it’s loud.”

Listen here to Palmer with Murph & Mac on KNBR in San Francisco

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