By Arthur Pincus
Of course the great debate round FanNation is LJ or Shaun, Shaun or LJ. But we leave that discussion to others for a minute to talk about a quarterback of summer who makes the plays and the decisions that give our stat-building running backs and wide receivers great days and great seasons.
This fall we will have some special places to roost and some special people to root for. What’s better than the anticipation of a coming NFL season? And what we anticipate most and root for the hardest is that Carson Palmer’s rehabilitation from his devastating playoff knee injury goes way beyond where anyone could expect. When we saw the Bengals’ qb on the cover of SI a few weeks back, it was a jolt, a reminder that the quarterback makes it all go and a knee injury makes it all stop.
We loved watching Palmer last season, growing from the kind of qb who wins a Heisman (he did), to one who re-invents a long losing franchise (he has) and then takes his team to a Super Bowl championship (he should). He’s got the high-stat tools in Chad Johnson and Rudi Johnson at wideout and running back. There’s a defense that could be strong enough. And there’s a coach who knows how long he waited for his deserved chance to run a team and has the smarts and the will to make it succeed. Now all Coach Marvin Lewis needs (besides some better late-night off-field decision-making by his players) is the return of Carson Palmer. Sure it’s a lot to hope for but we’re with ya, Marvin!
Sports give us so many chances to say, what if. What if Palmer’s left knee avoided Kimo von Oelhoffen’s hit? What if the 66-yard completion to Chris Henry was just the beginning of a playoff run and not the end of one? Remember the Bengals were playing the Steelers at home and there was no reason to think they wouldn’t win. But Palmer was carried off; the Steelers won, and, if memory serves, Pittsburgh went on to win the Super Bowl. You might want to check that last fact.
All right: if Palmer stayed healthy do the Bengals beat the Steelers? We don’t and won’t know. What we do know is that Palmer left early and terribly injured and the Bengals did not win. What we also know is that one of the highlights to look forward to this September (maybe October) is the return of Carson Palmer and the chance to take his team a lot farther. Citizens of FanNation: let’s agree that even if your Fantasy qb’s have different names than Carson Palmer, you’ll give a little cheer when he has his first big game.
Editorial Director Arthur Pincus will write regularly for FanNation.com.