When you talk about the great tough quarterbacks of the National Football League, there are certain names that always seem to come to mind.
Brett Favre might be the most obvious, because he started 291 (including post-season) consecutive games.
Then you have players like Steve McNair, who always managed to play while being hurt, and most recently you have Peyton Manning, who came back from two knee operations to win the league's Most Valuable Player award.
Yet, one name that seems to take a back seat would be Carson Palmer.
Although many people know that he came back from a serious knee injury, few realize exactly how severe his injury was and even fewer realize the conditions he has played under following other injuries.
For the first time in longer than an eternity, the Bengals actually meant something in 2005. They went from league door-mat and transformed into potential title contenders.
The explosive offense they displayed during the regular season appeared to be in full effect, right from the moment that Palmer threw his first pass. He connected with wide receiver Chris Henry for a 66-yard completion (the longest play in Bengals franchise playoff history).
But after he released the football, Steelers defensive end Kimo von Oelhoffen buckled under Palmer's left leg and essentially tore his knee apart.
As Palmer laid on the football field screaming in pain, there was no question that his season was over.
MRI's revealed that Palmer had torn his anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments (his ACL & MCL). He also dislocated his kneecap.
Some questioned whether or not Palmer would ever play football again.
None the less, he under-went reconstructive knee surgery and swore that he would be ready for the season opener in 2006. Somehow, he did manage to recover.
In 2006, Palmer earned a trip to his second consecutive Pro Bowl by completing 324 of 520 passes for 4,035 yards, 28 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions, posting a quarterback rating of 93.9.
Later that year, he went on to earn Pro Bowl MVP honors.
While the 2007 season was injury-free, the 2008 season proved to be much different.
During a Preseason game with the St. Louis Rams, Palmer suffered a hit which broke his nose.
I suppose this injury may have appeared minor in comparison to his knee injury, but it was certainly a bit graphic to see blood dripping down his face.
Palmer's misfortunes continued during the 2008 regular season.
He appeared to be un-phased with the responsibility of having to play with a broken nose. He simply wore a protective visor to prevent further injury.
Even so, his nose did have this nasty little habit of leaking blood as seen in the Bengals' matchup with the Giants during the early part of the season.
Yet, his bloody nose was the least of his worries during that game.
Palmer managed to tear a ligament and tendon in his throwing elbow. He might not have realized it at the time as he played well into the Bengals' overtime loss to the Giants.
He rested the following week, but insisted on playing the following game against the Dallas Cowboys.
Try to make sense of this for a moment, his 0-4 Bengals come into Dallas to face the Cowboys (a game in which they have little chance of winning), and Palmer decides to play with a torn ligament and tendon in his throwing elbow?
Still, Palmer's solid performance was not enough as the Bengals fell to the Cowboys, 31-22.
I personally feel that Palmer does not receive the credit he deserves due to the team that he plays for.
The Cincinnati Bengals are virtually never in the spotlight and when they are, it's because Chad Ocho-Cinco is performing touchdown celebrations.
On top of that, the Bengals have been so poor at times that they continue to lose despite Palmer performing well and playing injured.
There are certainly a handful of iron-men in the National Football League, Palmer just might be the toughest one that we never talk about.