With an injured foot and two missed practices, Carson Palmer strapped it up against the New York Jets Thanksgiving night after playing another NFL game only five days prior. Alright, so he didn't have a great game. Palmer's shoulder was problematic heading into the weekend against the Colts, sitting out two practices, even having a pain-killing injection shot into the problematic area.
People will rightly complain about Palmer's decision-making process, but the former God of the Golden Arms isn't a stranger to playing through pain, nor does he shy away from a challenging recovery after a massive injury.
But Palmer's recovery from a torn ACL and MCL during the 2005 Wild Card game against the Pittsburgh Steelers was so impressive, that it shocked so many, describing his recovery with words like miracle or two-word phrases like medical marvel. A few days after the injury, Palmer had reconstructive knee surgery on his left knee and he was in for a daunting rehabilitation process.
Driving home on a Houston freeway, a woman named Julie De Rossi was hit by a "BMW traveling at twice the speed limit slammed her from behind." The victim of a drunk driver, De Rossi's car was crushed into a concrete barrier. She died later that day. De Rossi was an organ donor, and along with helping upwards to 50 people, some of whom lives she likely saved, doctors used her Achilles tendon to help keep Palmer's knee together in an incredibly touching story that if you haven't read, you should.
In March of 2006, Palmer held a press conference to update the media about his rehabilitation. "Everything is going as scheduled and planned," he said. "I'm just starting to get to the point where I can push weight around." Palmer would eventually make his first start 233 days after suffering a severe knee injury on Monday Night Football against the Green Bay Packers.
Palmer would go on to play every game in 2006, reaching 4,000 yards passing for the first time in his career and recording a 93.9 passer rating -- second to only his 101.1 rating in 2005. He also set career highs in completed passes of 20 yards or more (36) and 40 yards or more (15) during the season, which is clearly the second best season of his career. In the two seasons after hurting his knee (2006 and 2007), Palmer would throw a combined 54 touchdown passes and average 4,083 yards passing per season.
Palmer powered through an injury that some feared could be career-threatening and in the end, hard work and sheer-determination helped Palmer play every game when so few believed he was done for 2006 well before the season started.