Carson Palmer’s window may be open longer than originally thought

Jul 29, 2016, 5:49 PM | Updated: 8:59 pm
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer throws during practice at the NFL football team's train...

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer throws during practice at the NFL football team's training camp, Friday, July 29, 2016, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)

(AP Photo/Matt York)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — When Carson Palmer arrived in Arizona in 2013, the assumption was the Cardinals’ window of opportunity for winning a Super Bowl was short. Coach Bruce Arians even admitted Friday that he thought the window would be open five years before Palmer’s ability diminished.

That belief has changed.

“Now I don’t know if there is a window,” Arians said. “Sports science is in a place we’ve never seen, where athletes can play maybe into their 40s now because of health, nutrition, training aids.

“Sh**, we’re putting a chip in the football to see if the quarterback’s velocity drops during practice; to see if his arm’s getting tired. There’s so much stuff out there to help them, I don’t see why some of these guys can’t play until their 40s.”

Palmer didn’t arrive in Arizona in the Stone Age. Sports science was still an important part of pro athletes’ game plan for extending and maximizing their careers in 2013, but sports science hasn’t progressed along a steady continuum. It has progressed exponentially, opening up more and more possibilities with each passing year, including professional careers that extend into the 40s.

Palmer said he never assigned a timeline to his career when he arrived in Arizona, but based on his anecdotal research, his drive for the game may wear out before his body.

“From what I’ve heard — just guys I’ve talked to — mentally you know it; you know it’s over and then your body starts to show you that it’s over,” he said. “You can enjoy the games when you’re 46 and 56 and 66 — there’s plenty of guys that love the game at older ages — but it’s another thing when you start talking about getting back to work in March and starting to re-watch last season and really work out hard and train hard.

“Then June and July come and you’ve really got to start training. Those are the kinds of milestones where you have to (ask): ‘Am still in this or am I not?'”

The fortunate news for Cardinals fans?

“I still love it,” Palmer said. “I still love that stuff.”

Arians thinks Palmer’s ACL tear during the 2014 season was a blessing in disguise because the type of training and rehabilitation he embraced altered his body.

“What he does physically, training-wise is amazing,” said Arians, who believes Palmer has even added velocity on his intermediate throws. “I’ve seen him get younger just since his knee injury. What he did, his core, his entire body, the way he eats and all those things now, he’s adding longevity to his career.”

Palmer thinks the injury may have been a blessing for another reason.

“Maybe I saved myself another year with missing so many games,” he said. “I feel as good as I probably felt 10 to 12 years ago going into training camp because I train differently; because I learned myself and learned how to feel good going in and how to feel prepared going in — what’s too much, what’s not enough.”

Winning 35 games (including playoffs) the past three seasons has also kept Palmer energized, which Arians acknowledged in his own special way

“I bet if you were losing 14 games and getting the sh** beat out of you, you might not want to come back,” he said.

Arians acknowledged that no matter how old or young a player is, his role on the team is still based upon performance, but the longer veteran quarterbacks can play at an elite level, the more it benefits coaches.

“It’s helped a lot of coaches keep their job longer because you’re tied to the hip of the guy,” Arians said.

Arians was asked Thursday if he would consider retirement if the Cardinals win a Super Bowl this year, to which he replied he’d probably try to chase No. 2. Palmer offered similar thoughts on Friday, noting that John Elway won Super Bowls at age 37 and 38 with Denver in 1997 and 1998.

“The more you get of something the more you want it; at least that’s the way I’ve always been built,” Palmer said. “You don’t know until you’re in that position but I think all the time about [John) Elway’s run.

“Watching that career come to an end was pretty special.”

 

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