The Bengals picked Palmer No. 1 in 2003 after he won the Heisman Trophy at USC.
After sitting out his first season to develop, he led the Bengals to a pair of division titles and went 46-51 as the starter from 2003-10.
Coming off a 4-12 season in 2010, he refused to play again unless it was for someone else, a wish that was granted when the team traded him to Oakland in the middle of the 2011 season.
The Bengals had already drafted Andy Dalton and made him their starter by that point, and he helped the team to five straight playoff appearances after Palmer’s exit.
Palmer played two seasons for the Raiders before ending up in Arizona, where career renaissance with another team that has not known much success
Palmer was 38-31 as a starter for the Cardinals and took them to the NFC Championship Game in 2015.
Although that franchise did not win a playoff game between 1947 and 1998 and has fewer winning seasons than the Bengals since 2011, Palmer felt more support from ownership there.
“When the organization is completely behind doing what it takes to win and you’ve got the right players, that’s the recipe for a Super Bowl,” Palmer told CBS Sports Radio. “When you’ve got good players but you’re not really forcing everybody in the organization’s hand to do what we can to be better, to do what we can to win a Super Bowl, that’s the difference in the NFL.”
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Palmer, who played 97 of his 181 career games for the Bengals and threw for 22,694 yards and 154 touchdowns with Cincinnati, also revealed he was told multiple times before the draft he did not want to end up in the Queen City.
Even Boomer Esiason, who led the Bengals to the Super Bowl in 1988, was among the franchise’s detractors according to Palmer.
“The night after I won the Heisman Trophy, I went and did an interview with (Esiason) for CBS, and everybody I was talking to along the way (said), ‘You can’t go to Cincinnati. You got to go somewhere else. You can’t play for the Bengals. You can’t play for the Bengals,’” Palmer said.
At that time, the Bengals were coming off a 2-14 season and a dreadful 12 years in which they had 10 losing seasons and no winning campaigns, but Palmer said the younger version of himself was undeterred.
“I was a young, arrogant kid (thinking) I’m good enough. I’m going to change the whole thing around. I’m going to change the narrative,” Palmer said. :Obviously I wasn’t able to change that narrative and flip that.”
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He acknowledged a similar narrative now that has sprung up in the national media since Burrow led LSU to the national championship.
Some have wondered aloud if Burrow might consider trying to avoid being a Bengal by following the lead of Eli Manning, who reportedly did not want to play for the Chargers in 2004 and ultimately was traded to the Giants.
Palmer did not endorse such a move, but he did not endorse his old team, either.
“That’s the narrative. If Joe is anything like I was — which was a young, arrogant kid that thought I was good enough to change it — then he’ll dig his feet in the ground and say, ‘No, I’m going to go No. 1, and I’m going to go to the Bengals.’”