Cincinnati Bengals’ fans and their ex-quarterback had a horrible break-up just a year ago. We all know how it goes when relationships, no matter how bad, end poorly. Someone walks away and the other is left standing there, looking for answers and needing closure.
That was exactly the case with the Bengals’ ex-quarterback Carson Palmer. However, instead of leaving one person looking for answers, there were thousands. He left without saying a word to the fans or his teammates. The quarterback was done in Cincinnati because, as he later revealed, he was unhappy with the situation on the field and with some of the inner workings of upper management.
Whatever his issue was, didn’t he owe the fans that stuck by him through thick and thin some explanation. People believed in him, they supported him; they named their children and pets after him. What they got in return was a trade demand with no apology and a retirement threat with no excuse. Palmer was done in this relationship and had already, quietly, packed his bags and slipped out in the middle of the night.
Everyone who has lived through a few years of Cincinnati football, knows that there hasn’t been a lot of joy, but the fans are faithful and they are there waiting when the team comes straggling home. So to quit on them the way Palmer did was inexcusable. Of course, I don’t have to tell anyone in Cincinnati that. We all already know, but we still have to wonder…why?
Cincinnati’s faithful may never get their answer to that question, but what they did get last Sunday was closure. Carson Palmer came marching back into Paul Brown Stadium, a place he called home for eight years. No sooner then he took the field with his “new, shiny, better” team, Bengals fans around the stadium were able to take a collective sigh of thanks. Closure was had on a mild afternoon on the new stadium turf.
Palmer’s play was miserable. He was sacked, intercepted, and could not get anything going for his team. The type of play that Bengals’ fans remember all too well. On the other hand, his old team was clicking on all cylinders. This was, in part due, to some changes the team had made since the quarterback up and left Cincinnati.
Since Palmer’s departure, the Bengals have done a little changing too. Just like that past lover that looks more appealing a year after you sever ties, Cincinnati got themselves together. They started by getting new friends and leaving the old ones that reminded them of their ex-quarterback behind.
The team picked up a new show-stopper wide receiver; one that stops shows, instead of creating new ones. The Bengals tore up the old house that Carson once knew and put in a brand new field with a brand new centerpiece, leaving the days of old behind. The team made some coaching changes, making sure the effects of Palmer wouldn’t linger on.
Then, in their boldest move, the Bengals found a replacement for their old love. They picked up a new quarterback. A quarterback that has similar features as Palmer, but the red hair is where the likeness ends. You see, this quarterback isn’t like the ex-field general at all.
Andy Dalton started for the team in his rookie season. He led the same team that Palmer left hanging in the wings to the playoffs. He was voted to the Pro Bowl as a rookie. He is breaking records every time we turn around. For the second year in a row, he has his team poised for another playoff run.
What does Carson Palmer have? The Bengals’ ex has a 3-8 record. He has had another inconsistent season and no chance at the playoffs once again. Palmer also has an angry ex-fan base that loathes his existence and made sure he knew it every time he took the field in their house last Sunday. What he has is the same old thing he had when he was in Cincinnati.
When we look at the two teams since Palmer has left the Bengals, it really makes you wonder what this break-up was all about. For Palmer, maybe the grass was greener on the other side. That is until he got there. The Raiders look just like the Bengals did under his command.
Is that fair to say? Probably not. Is it fair for someone to quit on a team and a city, though? Absolutely not. It is true what they say. The grass is always greener on the other side. It sure is nice to finally be on the other side. Thanks for the closure Palmer. It was nice to see you again.