– Carson Palmer, to me, is a Hall of Famer. Now it’s close. It’s go either way, like Philip Rivers. I think they’re both Hall of Famers.
But I’ll give you an example. What if Carson Palmer had Bill Belichick? So Carson Palmer went to USC. His first coach was Paul Hackett.
Carson Palmer had more interceptions than touchdowns under Paul Hackett. Then he got a better coach, Pete Carroll. He won the Heisman. He then went to the NFL to the totally, absolutely, inarguably dysfunctional Cincinnati Bengals.
No playoffs, 14 years. Carson Palmer led them to the playoffs in his second year. Eventually frustrated with the organization, he left to Oakland, which hadn’t been in the playoffs in a decade and was awful. He got them to eight and eight.
And then for some reason, they fired his coach. It was Al Davis. He was living. It was the Raiders.
Then Carson Palmer goes to the Arizona Cardinals. They were five and 11 the year before he arrived. They fired the head coach. He went 10 and six.
Following year, went six and 0, got hurt, came back, and went 13 and three, and should have been the MVP. What if Carson Palmer inherited Bill Belichick? Instead, four messes he had to clean up.
He had to clean up the Paul Hackett mess, the Cincinnati dysfunction, the Al Davis in his 70s dysfunction, and the Arizona Cardinals. And he went four for four.
Compare him to who you want, but you know who he looks like, sounds like, throws likes, is built like? He’s Troy Aikman, who had to transfer colleges. It didn’t work initially– who was one and 15 his first year. But Troy Aikman got Jimmy Johnson, and then Emmitt Smith, and then a great defense and great coordinators.
I don’t think there’s that much separating Carson Palmer and Troy Aikman, in terms of talent. Same size, they throw alike– swap jerseys, put a helmet on–, you largely couldn’t tell the difference physically. Troy stayed healthier, true, but had better offensive lines and better running games generally.
That is not a knock on Troy Aikman– to me, one of the seven or eight seminal quarterbacks in my life and the last NFL quarterback I was literally a fan of and could not be objective about. I also think Aikman’s as good a sports football analyst as we’ve ever had. But the difference is, Troy Aikman, after a rocky start, had to move in college, had great coaches, very little chaos, good offensive lines and support.
And Carson Palmer never did. He got Paul Hackett and eventually won a Heisman. He got the dysfunctional Bengals, got them to the playoffs. He took the grease fire Raiders to eight and eight and then they fired, inexplicably, their coach.
And Arizona was a laughingstock. And he went 16 and six, got hurt, came back 13 and three, and should have been MVP. I would vote Carson Palmer and Philip Rivers into the Hall of Fame.