Sunday, April 27, 2003

Palmer glad fuss is over

Top pick eager to play ball

By Mark Curnutte
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Carson Palmer knew what was coming, but he still was nervous and sweating.

Carson Palmer holds up a Bengals jersey at the NFL Draft in New York Saturday.
(AP photo)
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Palmer poses with NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue.
(AP photo)
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Palmer, signed Thursday by the Bengals to a seven-year contract, said he couldn't wait to get out of the Madison Square Garden green room and on with his career.

"I felt just as nervous (as other prospects)," Palmer said Saturday, about an hour after the Bengals made his selection official. "I was glad once they announced my name and the whole process went through."

His thoughts have turned to football. He's had enough of holding up his No. 9 jersey in front of cameras. He wants to wear it.

"I feel like there's been so much down time and I've been out of football for so long," Palmer said.

Palmer, a former Southern Cal quarterback, was to fly home to Orange County, Calif., following Saturday's rounds and will return to Cincinnati Thursday. The Bengals have a voluntary minicamp beginning Friday at Paul Brown Stadium.

Even though the Bengals gave Palmer a $10.01 million check on Thursday, he will sit behind starter Jon Kitna in 2003.

"I think it's the best thing for me and the team and the organization," Palmer said. "Them making this investment in me, it's going to take time in order for me to pay back that investment. I'm going to have to learn this offense and learn this system and get used to being in the NFL."

Bengals coach Marvin Lewis, speaking to ESPN moments after the selection, repeated that the team would go with Kitna as the starter.

"Hopefully, we will have a great season with Jon and go from there," Lewis said.

Palmer got a taste of NFL life on Friday in New York. He was expecting a quiet day.

He was wrong. He was up at 6 a.m., and made an appearance on Good Morning America. Then he went to the New York Stock Exchange and rang the opening bell.

The Dow ended up losing 133.69 points on Friday.

"It was bad for a lot of guys," Palmer said of the market. "They were hoping we would walk the floor, bring some good luck, but I guess we didn't."

Of course, ESPN commentators chided the Bengals Saturday.

Anchor Chris Berman said Palmer was the quarterback the Bengals were hoping "would lead them out of the dark ages."

Palmer was shown in an EA Sports TV commercial right after his selection with Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis.

In the commercial, Palmer does pushups with Lewis' feet on his back. Lewis is sitting in a chair.

"One Mississippi, two Mississippi," Lewis says. "I want military-style pushups."

Palmer said he enjoyed meeting Lewis and making the commercial.

"Ray's a great guy," Palmer said. "He said, `There's one bad thing about going to Cincinnati, and that's you have to see me twice a year.' And he's right."

Asked what the Bengals should do with their remaining picks, Palmer said, "Of course, I'd like to see them take some (Southern Cal) fellas. Offensively, I don't know what else we need. We've got a great running back (Corey Dillon), great receivers, great O-line. I would expect them to take a couple of defensive guys."

But by the end of yet another interview, Palmer clearly was ready to move on. He hadn't worked out since Thursday.

"I missed my Friday workout," he said. "I'll make it up Sunday when I get in."

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