Carson Palmer’s new offensive line is a fleet of moving vans. They arrived at his house on Thursday, ushering the former Cardinals star into retirement. It’s one of the best quarterback sneaks in history, and now he’s gone.
Long gone cheap nfl jerseys.
“For the next year, my family and I are going to disappear into the mountains,” Palmer said. “We’re getting away from the iPads and the iPhones and going on a family adventure. We’re going to ski, hang out, get away from the hustle and bustle and traffic, and just be a family.”
If Palmer wanted to slip away following his 15-year NFL career, he picked the perfect time. His retirement letter arrived between two enormous Valley events – the weepy retirement of Bruce Arians and the shocking end of Rich Rodriguez at Arizona.
In some ways, it’s the ideal getaway. Palmer spent 15 seasons in the NFL and was polarizing to the bitter end. He was more popular inside lockers rooms than he was outside of them. He retires with zero rings, no apologies and too many friends to count. But his career was full of nuance and complexities, his legacy too volatile for public farewells.
That’s why Palmer brought his young son to work on the last day of employment, so he could see what dad was all about.
“I hope it’s something he’ll never forget,” Palmer said. “He was with me the whole time, and he saw me hugging other guys, tearing up, hearing what they had to say. He heard me relay my thoughts to other players. These were private conversations, and he was right there, standing next to me.
“In time, he won’t remember going to the games, even though he’s been going to the home games since he was born. Those things will fade. But I hope he’ll always remember cleaning out my locker with me, and hearing all those things that were said on the final day. I hope it made a lasting impression of who I was as a teammate, and not just a football player.”
Palmer had a dramatic impact on Arizona. He was an MVP candidate when the Cardinals won 13 games and captivated the NFL. He showed great courage, absorbed all the hits, and he always said the right things.
In the 48 games separating Kurt Warner’s retirement and Palmer’s acquisition, the Cardinals went 18-30, a winning percentage of .375. During Palmer’s 60 games as starting quarterback, the Cardinals were 38-21-1, a winning percentage of .642. More than any other player, he is most responsible for a wonderful era of entertaining football.
“The only bummer is that I didn’t get any closure,” Palmer said. “I didn’t know that London game would be my last. I didn’t get to close it out. My wife jokes with me about it because I had that last year, when we beat Seattle and beat the Rams at the (Los Angeles) Coliseum to end the season. That would’ve been closure.
“Michael (Bidwill) didn’t come to me and say, ‘We don’t want you anymore.’ That would’ve been closure. The decision to retire was 100 percent just me, and so you’re never sure how you’re going to feel. And without that kind of closure, it will probably be more difficult, I assume.”
Palmer retires with only one playoff victory and a suspect legacy in the playoffs. He will join a fraternity of star athletes without championship rings, including Charles Barkley, Steve Nash, Karl Malone and many others. He already knows of one certain regret.
“The only thing I can tell you about a Super Bowl ring is, hey, not everybody gets one,” Palmer said. “But that’s something I have to live with. I told Michael (Bidwill) that my sole goal after coming to Arizona was to be the one to hand him the Lombardi Trophy on that big stage. And my biggest regret is that we couldn’t get that done. But somebody will soon.”
Palmer never had the greatest timing. He was the Great American Quarterback at USC, a towering kid who thought five Super Bowl rings was easily within reach. He became a professional and played for some off the worst organizations at their lowest times. He found the perfect situation in Arizona and couldn’t stay on the field.
Palmer says he’ll miss the grind, a sure sign that he isn’t fully ready for retirement. Asked to name his favorite play or moment, he only remembers a huddle full of faces, the players he once commanded, the moments of trust that bond men forever.
He wanted badly to return for one final game in 2017 but wasn’t medically cleared to play football until Saturday, when the NFL playoffs began. By then, Palmer’s moving vans had already headed north, to his mountain getaway.
“You’re never just ready,” Palmer said. “You feel like it’s time, but you’re never 100 percent sure. I’m honored to have done what I did, and I’d never thought it would be 15 years. I’ll think about what could’ve been (in Arizona), but this is an amazing opportunity for the next quarterback who comes in here.”
By then, Palmer will be on the slopes. Don’t bother calling.
“It’s time that my family and kids get me for 12 months as opposed to being a ghost for seven of them, at least,” he said. “It’s going to be great.”