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Hobson's Choice: In defense of Carson

Q: Just wondering what your thoughts are on Carson Palmer's recent comment on radio in Los Angeles on how bad he hates Ohio State and gets annoyed by having to listen to Buckeye talk all the time. Typically, he is the level-headed Bengal who won't say anything out of line, but he was way out of line here. Apparently he hasn't ever looked at the stands at the end of the third quarter when they play "Hang on Sloopy" to see all the fans standing and giving the O-H-I-O we all love. I know one thing, there will be at least one less number 9 jersey in the stands at PBS on Sundays.
--JOSH C., Hillsboro, OH

JOSH: You can't get on Carson for that. Everybody is true to his/her school. It would be shocking if he said anything else.

Remember, this is your franchise QB. This is the same passion that fuels his hatred for the Steelers and his love of the game.

We've got to compartmentalize our issues. I grew up in Boston rooting for Boston College. But after I went to Syracuse, I can't even stand to look at Flutie or anything about BC. Hate 'em.

Yes, I realize that Ohio State football is different. My first born is a Buckeye and so I hear it all the time. He left me harassing voice mails when the Bengals drafted Jeff Rowe with Troy Smith still on the board.

Hey, I'm a convert. You'll be walking on a beach in Maine during a July sunset and someone will be driving by, see your OSU shirt and yell, "O-H."

I get it.

So I went to the Ohio State Senior/Carson Fan and asked him what he thought.

"No problem," the kid said. "USC is playing OSU and not only did Carson go there, but he played for USC. If the Lions drafted Troy Smith, don't you think he'd still hate Michigan even though he was playing in Detroit?"

I think you can still wear No. 9 on Sundays.

Just don't wear it on Saturdays.


Carson is a good-natured guy and I'm sure it was done that way. Nothing personal. The guy is just standing up for his school.

Q: It seems like the Bengals always wait for their first-round pick to be sandwiched between two signings (the pick in front and the pick behind) before they sign. Of course this is not true of Palmer because he was the first pick in the draft but can you prove this thought to be true or false. They need Rivers signed ASAP!
--Jason B., Tuscon, AZ

JASON: Agreed. Since they didn't sign a veteran linebacker and have installed him as the starter, they can't afford to have Rivers missing any kind of time. They had a little bit of a grace period with the last two No. 1s (cornerbacks Johnathan Joseph and Leon Hall) because they had veterans starting. But not now at backer.

To be fair, everybody slots. Every team. Every agent. No one wants to do what is perceived as a bad deal for that slot. The team doesn't want to lug a mistake around for five years on the cap, and the agent doesn't want to do an under-market deal that other agents can crucify him on the decimal point during the next year's recruiting.

But if there are no deals, how do you know what the slot is?

Two years ago the deal for Joseph got done after his agent, Jason Chayut, agreed to a contract for the player picked four slots ahead of Joseph.

In the end, if the numbers are close, does it matter? Hall, the No. 18 pick, had this to say when he arrived in camp a day late last year after Tennessee signed Texas DB Michael Griffin at No. 19:

"I think it helped clear some things up," Hall said. "Even if he didn't sign I think I would have been here today."

As of now, everyone from No. 5 to No. 29 in the first round is unsigned, never mind Rivers at No. 9. So it's just not the Bengals waiting to slot.

A lot of it depends on the guy and the agent and how high the pick is.

A top 10 pick isn't an automatic like maybe a No. 18 or a No. 24 like Joseph, but Rivers has already proven he's serious about the game and his role on this team. Plus his agents, David Dunn and Joby Branion, have done big deals with the Bengals before, including Palmer's rookie deal and ensuing $97 million extension.

All signs point to him getting in on time, or close.

Q: What do you think about re-signing Chris Henry? With all the problems he has had and what it has done to his life and career, I think possibly and hope he has learned a great lesson. I would like to see him back and give him one more chance, but have a clause in his contract that one more foulup and he is gone forever. I would hate to see him go somewhere else and then see him come back and haunt us
--Tom R., Ironton, OH

TOM: Here are the two sides:

With one of the guys that drafted Henry coaching in Baltimore in Hue Jackson and Joe Jurevicius a big question mark in Cleveland, that seems to be the theme of the day.

Sign Henry so he doesn't end up in the division. Hey, if they re-signed him it would be the best defense the Bengals have played since '06 and the back-to-back 30-0 and 13-7 wins over Cleveland and Baltimore, respectively.

The Pro Henry side argues he was wrongly accused of assault, that he was cleared by a court, that he has basically stayed away from any convictions for two years, and no one can cover him.

The anti-Henry stance begins with any time you use logic like "Let's not play against him," there must be something congenitally wrong. If you can't come up with a better reason than that...

And, the antis, argue, since December 2005 he has done nothing to prove that he can stay on an NFL roster for a season and stay out of trouble at the same time because incidents just keep showing up. If it's not this, they argue, it will be something else in say around, oh, September.

They say it's time for the Bengals to move on. He needs a change of scenery, and so does the team, which finally looks like it has more good guys than bad guys. The last thing they need is another question at No. 3 receiver. The best ability in the NFL, they say, is reliability and he ain't got it.

And you don't have to worry about putting that clause in there. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell already did in April 2007 when he sent Henry a letter that ended with, "I must emphasize to you that this is your last opportunity to salvage your NFL career. I urge you to take full advantage of the resources available to support you in that effort."

Leave it up to Goodell, then.

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