July 27, 2011

The Carson Palmer Clusterfizzle.

This whole Carson Palmer controversy is oozing with hypocrisy.  And that is why I am so fascinated by it.  As he promised us in January, Palmer has decided to retire rather than return to his soul sucking existence in Cincinnati.  He demanded a trade which was purposely ignored by management, and now, instead of simply sucking it up for four years, he is throwing away his career and leaving $50 million in base salary on the table.  I mean, that is how badly he wants out. 

You would think that the Bengals would reluctantly concede, simply to get some sort of return on their investment, right? Who are they going to rely on? Carson’s kid brother, Jordan Palmer, who had a total of 18 yards last season? He was three-for-three in pass attempts, though, so at that rate, he will be an incredible replacement.  And sure, they could grab someone in the draft or sign a mediocre veteran.  But wouldn’t it make sense to at least try to score some promising players and find a favorable trade? Sort of like how NBA teams, after the Whore of Akron debacle, now realize that they must trade their young studs away before they leave in free agency? The decision may not leave you or your fans happy, but it is the right move to make…if you care about the future of your club.

Um, the Bengals apparently do not care about the future of their club.  This should not come as shocking news to anyone.  Even though many teams have inquired, their owner, Mike Brown, has obstinately refused to trade Carson Palmer. As he made clear yesterday to the Cincinnati Enquirer, “Carson signed a contract, he made a commitment. He gave us his word. We relied on his word and his commitment. We expected him to perform here. If he is going to walk away from his commitment we aren’t going to reward him for doing it.”  So, Mike Brown is giving Carson Palmer the finger and calling his bluff, while screwing the rest of his team, his fan base, and his future? It does not make any sense.

Listen, I get it.  It sucks that Carson is trying to force his way out of a contract he clearly regrets.  In free agency, he went for professional security over personal satisfaction; that was his choice and he should have to live with the consequences.  If he did not want to play for Cincinnati, if he did not want to endure annual failure, he should not have accepted an additional four years and $50 million.  It is a bitchy temper tantrum at its core.  And, in many ways, it makes him no better than Lebron James or Carmelo Anthony or Manny Ramirez. [After thinking about this, I am not sure if Manny was more evil or just smarter.  He purposely tanked it on the field while collecting paychecks, forcing Boston to trade him.  At least Carson respected his teammates and franchise, and simply retired.  He could have followed in Manny’s shoes and perhaps the Bengals would have no choice but to trade him. I look forward to him trying this tactic next season].  So I understand why Mike Brown does not want to “reward” his behavior.  It is about commitment and contract and honor and words and blah, blah, blah.  Yes, the moral high ground (and lecture) is nice.  From like a college professor or police officer. 

But let’s not kid ourselves here.  How many NFL teams prematurely cut players before their contracts end? Whether it is due to injury, inability, or inanity, how many owners selfishly eliminate contracts that are no longer favorable to them? Contracts are not guaranteed, so it seems sort of ridiculous that the Bengals are preaching about honor and principle, when they are just as guilty, if not more so, of pulling this stunt in this past.  They have no legitimate reason for ignoring potential trades other than to prove a point.  Undoubtedly, they have the power and leverage to call Palmer’s bluff, but is “winning” an argument really worth the future success of your club? Whatever points Mike Brown earns for being admirable, he immediately loses for being stubborn, short-sighted, and stupid.  Carson Palmer retains a lot of value at the moment; he could very likely bring the Bengals useful players in return.  Rather than making the best out of an admittedly frustrating situation, Mike Brown will relinquish any chance to profit.  It is illogical.  And I would rather have a franchise quarterback or a few draft picks than moral fiber, but that is just me. 

And, really, can we blame Carson Palmer?  The Cincinnati Bengals are a fucking disaster.  They were rated as the worst franchise in professional sports by ESPN The Magazine, while their former players despise the club.  Carson gave them everything he had for years and they repay him by…stealing his ability to play football? By forcing his hand and making him look like an asshole? I appreciate that the Bengals do not like being held up at gun point, but they are lucky that he did not turn that gun on himself long ago. I mean, Cincinnati hasn’t won a playoff game since 1991. The Bengals have no talent, have not taken any genuine steps to improve, and have not provided Palmer with any reason to want to stay. And their actions have only extended this saga for another year; I pretty much guarantee that Carson Palmer will be back next year, if only to use his exorbitant salary as leverage to force the Bengals to trade him again.  He is still giving up football for a year, though, and that is an eternity in the NFL.

Every now and then, right or wrong, you have to cut your losses; instead, Mike Brown has ensured that everyone loses in this situation.  The Bengals (and fans) do not get any players and Carson Palmer cannot play football for the next four years.  That is one big hot mess that turned into a tepid puddle of lameness. A Carson Palmer clusterfizzle.

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