God, I hate him.
HATE! If there was a Carson Palmer hate group on Reddit... I'd join. I'd sponsor it in the form of a decal on my Ford Taurus so that thousands would see it during my 60-minute I-75 trek to work. The blimp that hovered over Mason, Ohio, during the Western and Southern tournament, nearly had a sharpie scratching out the DirectTV propaganda for Palmer hate.
Hate is the emotional portraiture that so many Bengals fans have harbored for Carson Palmer -- the disenfranchised beggar of prosperity, who still seeks success while Cincinnati qualifies for three consecutive postseasons with an army of pro bowl players and the league's newest $100 million quarterback (well, we hope anyway).
You know the story -- in my Hurley explains Lost in 30 seconds voice. Franchise quarterback led the Bengals to the postseason in 2009, but not victory. Demanded some weapons on offense and received Terrell Owens and Antonio Bryant -- the latter being an injury signing (except the Bengals didn't really know that he was injured). Cincinnati wins four games in 2010 and when the NFL reached Championship Weekend (the day when the AFC and NFC Championship games are played), reports surfaced that Palmer was demanding a trade. And if he wasn't traded, he would play the retirement card. The team didn't publically believe him, but they were moving forward. They drafted Andy Dalton but stubbornly refused to trade Palmer. Eventually they relented and he was traded to Hue Jackson's Oakland Raiders, with Cincinnati receiving two draft picks that materialized into cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick and running back Giovani Bernard. The stubborn owner was declared genius.
It's been three seasons since Palmer played in Cincinnati as a member of the organization. He's entering his second season with Arizona after playing two years in Oakland -- he has amassed a record of 18-22. During that same stretch, Dalton has compiled a starting record of 30-18, three postseason berths (he could improve there, huh?), and a Pro Bowl. Additionally, in his first three seasons in the league, Dalton has passed for, at least, 20 touchdowns and 3,000 yards... eventually snapping Carson Palmer's single-season record for yards passing and touchdowns thrown last season.
And for good measure, Cincinnati dismantled the Oakland Raiders 34-10 in 2012 during Carson Palmer's homecoming. Dalton outperformed Palmer, who was under constant threat from Michael Johnson, Carlos Dunlap, Geno Atkins and Mike Zimmer's all-out blitzing gameplan.
Things have changed over time. Hatred isn't the appropriate description anymore. Indifferent, maybe? Who cares? Palmer is in Arizona, playing for a Cardinals squad that bounced back with a ten-win season last year. Arizona looks to improve against one of the league's toughest divisions with the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers. Palmer has that in front of him... not the legacy he left in Cincinnati. That's irrelevant. That's yesterday. And the only people that reflect on history with obsessively loving eyes are history professors and Pittsburgh Steelers fans.
The Bengals have evolved into a better team-first organization since Palmer's departure. At the time, we were angry. Now... we're grateful.
Cincinnati's storyline against Arizona on Sunday Night Football, could have been about a Carson Palmer rematch. Though there are reminders out there, it's not. It's more internal than that: Who are the Bengals going to cut? Is there a backup quarterback that will stand up? Will Mohamed Sanu step up for Marvin Jones? Has anyone found the team's tight ends? Will Sean Porter prove he's 53-man ready, or does he need more time? How will Geno Atkins look in his first live-action snaps since Miami last year?
Carson Palmer? No one really gives a damn anymore. We've moved on.