In many cities around America, there are certain players that no matter what colors they wear, they’re loved by a particular fanbase. Michael Vick is still loved in Atlanta even though he plays for Philadelphia. Jordan is still the man in Chicago even though he played in Washington and owns the Bobcats.
Hell, Jerry Rice played for the Raiders, and ‘Niners fans still love him. Seattle fans always loved Ken Griffey Jr. Jim Tressel was hoisted onto the shoulders of his 2002 national championship team just yesterday. So on and so forth.
However, there are also players that aren’t quite as welcomed by their former fans. LeBron James will get booed by Cleveland fans at his Hall of Fame induction. Dwight Howard won’t be greeting too many smiles in Orlando anytime soon. Urban Meyer won’t be receiving any (positive) holiday cards from Gator fans. And Carson Palmer will be booed by Bengals fans today.
Today’s matchup in Cincinnati between the Bengals and the Raiders marks Carson Palmer’s first return to the Queen City since being traded last season. However, as Bengals fans know all too well, it wasn’t nearly that simple.
In short, Palmer demanded a trade and vowed to retire unless the front office could negotiate a deal. Mike Brown, the Bengals owner, ensured the fans that he expected Carson to respect his contract and would not trade him.
When then Raiders’ starting quarterback Jason Campbell got hurt during the season last year, the stage was perfect to sign Palmer from retirement.
Everyone won in the situation. The Bengals got rid of Palmer and eventually drafted Mohamed Sanu. The Raiders landed a former Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback to help a deflated offense. Palmer renegotiated his contract to value over $35 million through 2014.
Even the fans came out victorious. Andy Dalton was amidst a Pro Bowl rookie campaign softening the absence of Palmer. By the time Palmer was traded, Cincinnati fans were relieved to get him off their hands.
Three years prior, Cincinnatians were praising Palmer for making it to the playoffs. Things had gotten so bad that fans celebrated his house being put on the market.
Had Palmer not been so stubborn about retiring, Cincinnati fans would probably cheer his return to southwest Ohio. If Palmer wasn’t averaging over 300 passing yards a game this year, Cincinnati fans might cheer his return.
Had Dalton, Palmer’s replacement, performed like the previous quarterback drafted in the first two rounds, Akili Smith, Cincinnati fans would probably cheer Palmer’s return.
The sad reality is that Palmer retired to avoid returning to Paul Brown Stadium, he’s killing it right now and Dalton went to the Pro Bowl last year and has a QBR over 90 for the last two games.
While it wouldn’t surprise me to see a few No. 9 jerseys in Paul Brown Stadium today, I expect there to be a definitive feeling of negativity towards him, at least at the beginning.
With an unlikely, yet possible, chance of making the playoffs, the Who Dey Nation can use any extra motivation we can find. For this game, the storyline basically writes itself.