Raiders acquire QB Carson Palmer

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Raiders acquire QB Carson Palmer

PROGRAMMING NOTE: The Raiders will host a press conference introducing Carson Palmer, which will air on CSN California and stream live at 4 p.m. on CSNCalifornia.com.
Carson Palmer and Hue Jackson have a history.

And not just from when Jackson was the receivers coach with Cincinnati from 2004 through 2006. Jackson also recruited Palmer to USC in 1998 and was Palmer's offensive coordinator with the Trojans through 2000.

So yes, Palmer fulfills a huge part of the criteria Jackson laid out on Monday, that he'd have to have a certain sense of familiarity with any prospective new quarterback.

The Raiders acquiring Palmer for a first-round draft pick in next April's draft, as well as a future conditional pick, will leave Oakland without selections in the first, second, third, fourth and seventh rounds in 2012.

It also leaves no question to Jackson's position as the Raiders' power broker in the wake of Al Davis' passing on Oct. 8.

Palmer will wear No. 3 in Oakland. The team issued a press release shortly before 2 p.m. announcing a press conference to introduce Palmer.

Oakland beating the NFL trade deadline by bringing in a front-line starter like Palmer, rather than a backup along the lines of Trent Edwards, gives credence to the notion that the Raiders believe Jason Campbell's season is done, thanks to his fractured right collarbone, and that they have little trust in Kyle Boller going forward and even less in Terrelle Pryor.

"You've got to have somebody that can kind of hit the ground running, whether the guy can be a starter or the guy can be a backup because if not, it's going to take two or three weeks, or four to get engrained in the system and you've fallen behind," Jackson said Monday in his weekly media conference.

"I'm not interested in just putting anybody on this team."

Palmer, obviously, is not just "anybody."

He's a former Heisman Trophy winner who is also a two-time Pro Bowler and a strong-armed passer who, many critics charge, quit on his team this offseason when he sat out rather than report after his demands for a trade from Cincinnati were not met.

Under Palmer, and with Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco as his receivers, the Bengals finished the 2010 season with a 10-game losing streak to finish 4-12, the team's worst finish since 2002. That was the year the Bengals finished with the worst record in the NFL and used to top pick to select Palmer.

Despite his draft standing, Palmer sat out his first year, learning the nuances of the position behind Jon Kitna.

In 2005, Palmer found his groove, leading Cincinnati to an 11-5 record and its first winning mark since 1990 while leading the NFL with 32 touchdown passes and a 67.8 completion percentage. But it was in a divisional playoff game against Pittsburgh when defensive tackle Kimo von Oelhoffen rolled up on Palmer's left knee and tore both the ACL and MCL.

Palmer returned for the 2006 season but missed most of 2008 with a partially torn ligament and tendon in his right elbow.

Palmer's career record as a starting quarterback is 46-51, bottoming out with last year's 4-12 mark that hastened his request for a trade, despite his signing a six-year contract extension that took his initial deal through 2014 and made him, at the time, the highest paid player in the NFL on Dec. 29, 2005.

The Bengals were scheduled to pay Palmer 11 million this season, 11.5 million in 2012, 13 million in 2013 and 14 million in 2014.

"Hopefully this is the last place I end up playing," Palmer said at the time of the deal. "That's so rare in this league these days. It's so rare to see a person have a five-, eight-, 10-, 12-year career in one place. And I feel very fortunate that it looks like that's going to be my future."

Obviously, his feelings changed in the past five-plus years. This past season, fans reportedly left garbage on the lawn of Palmer's suburban Cincinnati home.

"Because of the lack of success that Carson and the Bengals have experienced together," Palmer's agent, David Dunn, said in a release in January, "Carson strongly feels that a separation between him and the Bengals would be in the best interest of both parties."

WCPO-TV reported in March a friend of Palmer's quoted the quarterback as saying he "will never set foot in Paul Brown Stadium again," and that "I have 80 million in the bank. I don't have to play football for money. I'll play it for the love of the game but that would have to be elsewhere. I'm prepared to live my life."

But Browns owner Mike Brown initially stood firm, saying he would not trade his franchise quarterback.

"I honestly like Carson Palmer," Brown said then. "He was a splendid player for us. He's a good person. I wish him well. And he is retired. That is his choiceI'm not expecting him to be back."

Brown was also asked why he would not budge.

"Carson signed a contract," he said. "He made a commitment. He gave his word. "We relied on his word. We relied on his commitment. We expected him to perform here. He's going to walk away from his commitment. We aren't going to reward him for doing it."

Seems a potential pair of first-round draft picks might Brown rethink things. And has Palmer on the brink of rewriting some history with Jackson.

And while it appears as though the Raiders are now taking the 2012 NFL draft off, they were expecting to receive a compensatory pick or two after losing free agents Nnamdi Asomugha, Zach Miller and Robert Gallery.

A sports-related pie-fixing scandal? Hell never felt so fun

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AP

A sports-related pie-fixing scandal? Hell never felt so fun

I’m liking this 2017 so far. Then again, after 2016, nearly any year would be an improvement.

Just this last weekend we got a flat-earth scandal that turned into a mock-up about media self-importance and fake news (yay Kyrie Irving and his impish sense of satire!).

We got the overblown Russell-Hates-Kevin narrative, and the faux Russell-Secretly-Loves-Kevin counternarrative, all because we are stunningly attracted to meaningless and utterly contrived drama (yay our ability to B.S. ourselves!).

We got the NBA All-Star Game ripped for having no defense even though last year’s game was, if anything, worse (yay short attention span!).

We got the Boogie Cousins trade and the national revulsion of all the thought processes the Sacramento Kings put into this perpetually rolling disaster (yay making Boogie and Vivek Ranadive household names!).

And now we got the Great Sutton United Pie-Fixing Scandal. Yeah, pie-fixing. Hell never felt so fun.

So here’s the deal. Sutton United, a very small fry in English soccer, got to the fifth round of the FA Cup, a competition in which all the clubs in England are commingled and play each other until one team remains. The big clubs almost always win, so any time a small club goes deep, it’s a big deal.

Anyway, Sutton went deeper in the competition than nearly anyone in the last century, a charming development given that it is such a small club that it had a stadium caretaker, goalie coach and backup goalie all in one massive fellow, a 46-year-old guy named Wayne Shaw. Shaw became the globular embodiment of the entire Sutton Experience, a jolly lark for everyone involved and especially when he ate a pie on the bench in the final minutes of Sutton’s Cup-exiting loss to Arsenal.

And now he’s been eased into resigning his jobs with the club, because – and this is so very British – there were betting shops taking action on whether he would in fact eat a pie on the bench, and he either did or did not tip off his pals that he was going to chow down on television.

He did eat the pie. His pals collected on their bets. The sport’s governing body opened an investigation into market manipulation by gambling – which is hilarious given that no fewer than 10 gambling establishments have advertising deals with English soccer clubs. Shaw was invited to quit to kill the story, and he took the hint.

Hey, dreams die all the time. But it’s still pie-fixing. Let that rattle around your head for a minute. Pie-fixing. Not match-fixing. Not point-shaving. Pie-fixing.

Now how can you not love this year?

Sure, it sucks for Shaw, but it serves as a series of cautionary tales for athletes around the world.

* Gambling is everywhere, and every time you inch toward it, you dance on the third rail.

* If you want to help your friends, give them cash.

* This is a horribly delicious way to lose your gig.

* And finally, fun in the 21st century isn’t ever truly fun because someone in a suit and a snugly-placed stick is going to make sure you pay full retail for that fun.

But it is nice to know that something that has never happened before is now part of our year. Pie-fixing is a thing now, as silly in its way as Irving’s flat-earth narrative was. And as we steer away from normal games as being too run-of-the-mill-fuddy-duddy entertainment, we have replaced them with sideshows.

Or do you forget how many people complained Saturday and Sunday that the dunk contest wasn’t interesting enough? How stupid is that?

Lots. Lots of stupid. But against pie-tin-shaped planets and pies turned into betting coups, how can it possibly compare?

We chase a lot of idiotic narratives in our sporting lives. The great What Will The Patriots Do To Roger Goodell story died like the old dog it was. We still try to flog Warriors-Thunder as a rivalry in search of better TV ratings when all the obvious evidence is that it is no such thing unless you think a couple that broke up nine months ago is still a solid story. We have Bachelor fantasy leagues, for God’s sake.

This would leave most normal folks in despair, thus matching their everyday experiences, but yin meets yang, and every time it looks like we are all barrel-rolling into the sun, we get Irving, and then we get Wayne Shaw.

In short, 2017 is going to be fun of grand surprises for us all. I look forward to the day President Trump tries to fete the Patriots and only gets to Skype with Bob Kraft and the equipment guys who midwifed DeflateGate, and Mark Davis in Las Vegas, just to see if he can get a P.F. Chang’s into the Bellagio.

Why not? This is sport’s year-long tribute to sketch comedy, and evidently everyone is signing on enthusiastically to replace lessons of morality and honor and equality and dignity and sportsmanship with slackened jaws and belly laughs.

So yay sports! Or as it is clearly becoming, A Night At The Improv.
 

Patriots win one for the ages, but where does it rank?

Patriots win one for the ages, but where does it rank?

The price of watching Roger Goodell being booed back to the Bronze Age is a subtle but real one, and one that people will feel very dearly soon enough.

The last great cathartic Super Bowl is now done, with the New England Patriots winning the brilliant and decisive battle to be sports’ new evil empire. In doing so, it rendered Goodell a permanent and risible punch line in National Football League history, the mall cop who wanted the death penalty for littering, and in the words of the song “got what he wanted but he lost what he had.”

True, $40 million a year can make the dissolution of your public persona a reasonably decent tradeoff, but we lost the argument about who won his windmill tilt with the Patriots. It’s done, and he is now permanently and irrevocably a figure of ridicule.

But that’s not the only debating point America lost Sunday night, and while you wouldn’t think it given how much time we are willing to shouting at each other, quality arguments are not easily replaced.

We have almost surely lost the mindless debate about the best quarterback ever, because there is nothing anyone can bring up that the words “Tom Brady” cannot rebut except calling his own plays, and since that is no longer allowed in football, it is a silly asterisk to apply.

We have almost surely lost the equally silly shouter about the best coach ever. Bill Belichick is defiantly not fun, but he has built, improved and bronzed an organizational model that is slowly swallowing the rest of the sport. That and five trophies makes him the equal if not better of the short list of Paul Brown, George Halas, Vince Lombardi, Bill Walsh and Tom Landry.

Plus, Belichick locked up the most absurd response to a question in coaching history Monday when he said, “As great as today feels . . . we're five weeks behind the other teams for the 2017 season.” Even allowing for Gregg Popovich in-game interviews, the so-grim-he-could-make-a-robot-cry worship-the-process response has now become a cliché. If 2017 prep was so important, he should have skipped yesterday’s game, and he definitely should have chosen not to waste so much time on the trophy stand after the game when training camp drills needed to be scheduled.

Oh, and DeflateGate died. Dead. No zombie possibilities here.

We do have a meatheaded argument ahead of us about which championship in the last year is the best, which can be settled here.

1. Leicester City, because 5,000-1 is 5,000-1, and the whole world understands that. Plus, there was invaluable three-month buildup that engaged non-soccer fans.

2. Chicago Cubs, because 108 years is 108 years.

3. New England Patriots, because . . . well, I don’t have to explain it unless you have no useful memory span. “Down 25 In The Third Quarter” is the new “Down 3-1.”

4. Cleveland Cavaliers, because they slayed the first unbeatable Warrior team by coming from 3-1 down, and even as a silver medalist, it will always be an internet meme, which is what passes for memorable in our decrepit culture.

5. (tie) Villanova basketball and Clemson football in a tie, because they were essentially the same great game.

7. The Pittsburgh Penguins, because the Stanley Cup Final was devoid of drama or high moments, and only 14:53 of overtime. Feh.

But everything else is settled, and this Super Bowl will not be topped for a long time. Our current cycle of absurd championships is almost surely going to end soon, because “Down 3-1” has happened twice in eight months (three times, if you count Warriors over Thunder), and the bar has now been placed well beyond reasonable clearing.

Indeed, the only thing left is for a championship team to spontaneously combust on the award stand. But if they do so and ignite Roger Goodell along the way, that would be an ending America would cheerfully endorse.

But that also isn’t an argument any more, and yes, that includes Gary Bettman.