View Full Version : Peter Kings thoughts on Palmer, Owens and Coach Chin

08-21-2006, 03:51 PM
INDIANAPOLIS -- Carson Palmer. Terrell Owens. Bill Cowher.

Finally, someone to share the stage with T.O.! We're free from all T.O., all the time. And these other stories are pretty meaningful.

Let's briefly examine each of them.
Carson's comeback

Palmer 'expects' to play next Monday against the Packers.

That's what he said Sunday night after practice in Cincinnati. Now it's getting to the point where Palmer is doing so much on the field before preseason games -- sprinting out, throwing on the run, reversing directions -- that people see him and say, "Why in the world is he not playing?'' I can tell you for a fact that several players on other teams are openly wondering that and wondering what his teammates must be thinking when Palmer is pirouetting like Nureyev at 7:30 p.m. and standing next to Marvin Lewis at 8:30.

"He doesn't want to go out there before he feels like he is whole to do his job,'' Lewis said Sunday afternoon. "That's a good thing. We have time, and that's what he's very conscious of.''

Later on Sunday, Palmer told reporters he "expects'' to play against Green Bay, assuming he has no more swelling in his surgically repaired knee this week.

We're approaching touchy territory here. Lewis has to say all the right things about being cautious with Palmer, and surely this is a this-too-shall-pass episode in what will likely be a happy and long marriage between the Bengals and their franchise quarterback. But living in the moment, you have to know how players are. Some of them -- on the Bengals and on other teams -- have been quietly questioning how Palmer can look as nimble as he always has in warmups and then say he can't play.

Palmer is a sensitive guy, and I'm sure he feels the pressure to get out there for his team in time for the Sept. 10 opener at Kansas City. But he also feels pressure to get out there only when he feels he'll be able to escape the rush and play with the confidence that made him a mini-Peyton the last couple of years.

My feeling is Palmer will struggle a bit next Monday. Still, it's a good setting for his debut. It's at home. He'll be facing a team with a limited pass-rush. The one thing I'll be looking for: When the traffic comes, and when he feels pressure around his legs, will Palmer throw the ball away nervously, or will he hang in there and take a couple of good pops? Next Monday should be must-see TV. Imagine Brett Favre and the season debut of the Franchise. Could be a ratings monster, as ratings monsters go in the preseason. +

T.O. turmoil

This hamstring thing is not going away. The Cowboys are in danger of seeing their investment in Owens go down the toilet.

When I saw Owens practice in Oxnard, Calif., at Cowboys camp last Wednesday (his first practice after missing 14 in a row because of a strained hammy), the first thing I noticed was that he couldn't get separation from any corner. Not the starters. Not the guys sure to be waived later this month. It was painfully obvious that Owens had a painful hamstring.

I do not buy that he's loafing or jaking it. The guy is legitimately hurt, in my opinion. Why, when a guy is trying to get back to the top of the football world, would he lie down for one of the most demanding coaches ever to pace a sideline? Even to Owens' demented way of thinking, that makes no sense.

What happened last week is Owens met with Parcells on Friday and was told he wouldn't be playing in tonight's game against the Saints. He practiced twice more, then took the final practice on Saturday off, complaining of soreness in the hamstring. It's been reported that he blames Parcells for aggravating the injury, and I can't vouch for that one way or the other. But he still has two days left to get rest and treatment before the Cowboys are on the practice field again Wednesday in Dallas. And the team hopes he'll be able to practice then. I doubt he will.

Is there a storm coming with Parcells? Probably. But understand this about Parcells, and this comes from someone who's known him since 1985: The only time he'd have a problem with T.O. is if Owens went to owner Jerry Jones to complain about Parcells' attempts to get him to practice. Parcells would have a problem with Owens for going to Jones and with Jones for listening. He views the operation of the team as totally his bailiwick. Now, as far as blowing up at Owens, I don't see it happening, at least not in the near future. Because Parcells won't do anything to make himself part of the distraction. It's a crazy story, but a story that seems to fascinate us to no end. Unfortunately.
Curtains for Cowher?

Bettis stands by his story.

On NBC earlier this month, 2005 Steelers hero Jerome Bettis said he thought this would be Cowher's last year coaching the Steelers. Cowher responded by saying he hadn't talked with Bettis about this since March, that he was rejuvenated for the season and who knows what the future would bring.

But Bettis talked to Cowher after his TV report, and whatever the two men said, Bettis was standing by his report last night. He still thinks Cowher has one year left coaching the Steelers. After 2006? Who knows? He'll likely sit out for a year, then get back into the game somewhere else.

The operative word is likely. I was in Latrobe, Pa., site of the Pittsburgh training camp, and spent a few minutes alone with both Cowher and Art Rooney II, the Steelers exec charged with the Cowher negotiations. I got the distinct impression that the coach, under the right circumstances (monetarily), would stay in Pittsburgh for a long time. I also got the impression he was not pleased that the Steelers waited so long into the offseason this year to discuss the contract.

"There are just some circumstances....'' Cowher told me, his voice trailing off, not getting more specific. Those circumstances, I believe, deep down, have to do with the feeling that the Steelers probably will never pay a coach what he could make on the open market. And that they were not very aggressive in negotiating a contract with Cowher this offseason after it was learned he had bought a home in North Carolina and that his wife and high-school-aged daughter, the only one of their three girls still at home, would be moving south for the school year.

We'll see how this one goes, but my feeling is that it won't end smoothly for Cowher in Pittsburgh.

My guess as to Cowher's successor, if he does go -- and that's all it is, a guess -- is offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt. He's the Rooney family's kind of guy, humble and hardworking and imaginative.

One last reason I think this situation is still salvageable if the Steelers pay big: Cowher told me the two-city arrangement could work, even with how much he loves watching his daughter play basketball. He could work two weeks a month in Pittsburgh and take two weeks in North Carolina to be Mr. Dad. Not sure how this arrangement would work with the Rooneys, but as I said, my gut feeling is that it will not come to a split-city situation. My gut feeling mirrors Bettis'.

08-21-2006, 10:29 PM
a) No need to rush Palmer. Fans and media should chilled out and wait until he is ready.

b) Parcells needs to relax here. Owens might be a wind bag but he doesn't have a rep for faking injuries. There is alot on the line here for the Cowboys.

c) As for Cowher, Steelers should pay him his worth. There is no cap system for coaches so why not. The team has been real competitive under his tenure and your playing with fire if you bring in somebody else. I hope both sides work out an agreement here.

As for Peter King, I just love listening and reading his articles. He does a 20 minute weekly segment here in Canada on Prime Time Sports for over a decade. It's just good radio. And now he is on NBC, even better.