MAN IN BLACK 3
The two-time Pro Bowler threw for 2,753 yards, 13 TDs and 16 INTs in 10 games after being traded from Cincinnati to Oakland after Week 6 of last season.
DAN PATRICK:When you joined the Bengals out of USC, you had the luxury of sitting behind Jon Kitna. Would you have been ready to start?
CARSON PALMER: I would have been ready, but I wouldn't have been able to perform at the same level that Jon was performing at. Jon had been there a long time. He knew the system. It was an opportunity for me to learn from one of the [truly great] mentors. Now if you get drafted one through 10, you're playing right away.
DP:How has the game changed to allow rookies to play and succeed?
CP: I don't know if the game has changed, just the thought process. Now [teams] make rookies play and go through all those growing pains early. There's a reason a team is drafting high—you're not very good. You have another year to let a guy learn, let him take his lumps. Let him have a whole off-season to watch film of himself and understand why he made mistakes and be ready [by the] second or third year.
DP:What was your impression of the Raiders while you were in Cincinnati, and how has that changed since you've been in Oakland?
CP: The last decade since Rich Gannon left has been rough on Raider Nation. Out in Cincinnati, you don't have a real good feel of what's going on. Since I've been here, I've been more and more impressed. It's a true organization. There's somebody running it in [new general manager] Reggie McKenzie, and he's got a direction and goals. He's taking the small steps to get there. From what I've heard, since the passing of the great Al Davis, this place has changed drastically.
DP:Do you care about patching up your relationship with the Bengals?
CP: I've moved on, and they've moved on. I don't know if anything needs to be patched up. They're in a better place, and I'm in a better place.
DP:What made you say you'd retire rather than continue playing in Cincinnati?
CP: It wasn't one thing. It was just time. I was going on nine years and had given everything I had. It was time for them to move on, and they had a young up-and-coming team. In years to come both organizations will look back and think this is the best thing that could have happened.
DP:How close were you to really ending your career?
CP: I was five, six games into retirement. I was well on my way.
DP:What did you do on Sundays?
CP: I watched football all day. From the first game to the last game. I couldn't get DIRECTV where I was living. So I went to my buddy's house and sat on his couch, and his wife cooked some food, and we watched football.
DP:But didn't he bombard you with questions about different players?
CP: My buddies know they're not allowed to ask a bunch of silly football questions. They leave that for you, Dan.
The average horse, in the morning when no one's looking, they love the game. But you put all that pressure on and they shrivel up a little bit. Horses like I'll Have Another—there are not too many of them—they thrive on the game, thrive on the attention."
—DOUG O'NEILL, trainer of Triple Crown hopeful I'll Have Another
GUEST SHOTS SAY WHAT?
NBA TV's Brent Barry doesn't agree with analysts who think the Lakers should trade Pau Gasol. "Gasol is the most complete player who's still on that team," Barry told me. "They need to address issues with Andrew Bynum. How long can they wait for Bynum to get on the maturity bus?" ... I asked Phillies ace Roy Halladay who he thinks is the best pitcher in baseball. "Justin Verlander," Halladay said. "Recently he's been able to dial it down at times. You don't see 100 mph on every pitch. He's taken that overpowering stuff and become a pitcher with it." ... Miami Herald columnist Dan Le Batard says the Heat has wanted to face the Celtics in the playoffs because Boston knocked LeBron James (when he was with Cleveland) and Dwyane Wade out of the playoffs in the past. "Given that LeBron and Wade got together because of Boston," Le Batard said, "there would be great joy in not only finishing Boston's season, but finishing that era." ... Former Yankee David Wells pitched in the heart of the steroid era but says he wasn't offered performance-enhancing drugs. "I was too big," Wells said. "I was fat. I did it with drinking a little bit, eating a lot of bit."
MICHAEL J. LEBRECHT II/1DEUCE3 PHOTOGRAPHY (PATRICK)
ICON SMI (PALMER)
STEVE NESIUS/REUTERS (WELLS)
JOE FARAONI/ESPN (LE BATARD)
AL TIELEMANS (HALLADAY)