QB Carson Palmer and Head Coach Hue Jackson. Photo by Tony Gonzales
Coach Jackson: Unbelievable 12 or 13 hours or whatever it's been. I'm kind of losing track of time with this sleep deprivation that I'm going through, but obviously we're here for several different reasons. But, I want to first take an opportunity to thank so many people who help have this thing come to a conclusion. I think there's a report out there that Hue Jackson sometimes does all this on his own. That's so far from the truth it's not even funny. Mark Davis is a person that spearheads this whole thing. We have such a great team of people right now that we work through, headed up by Mark, then Amy [Trask], then myself and then Marc Badain, Tom Delaney, and Dan Ventrelle. Those guys; they've been amazing over the last several hours as we were able to put together what I think is probably the greatest trade in football, in my opinion. Obviously, I think everybody knows that we needed to go out and address our quarterback situation. I told you guys the other day that I was going to continue to search, look, do everything I could to help this football team to become all it can be. That's my job as the head coach and the leader of this team. So, what I set out to do is find the person that I would feel comfortable with coming in here helping me lead this football team as we continue to move forward and give us the best opportunity to win. I was very lucky to reach back into my past and grab somebody that I was very familiar with, being Carson [Palmer]. In order to do that, it took a lot of teamwork, it took a lot of cooperation from the Bengals, it took a lot of teamwork here within this Raiders organization to get it done, and again, I want to thank Mark Davis for all he's done. Obviously, there's been so many firsts for us since losing Coach Davis. You go to the first game in Houston – we were able to get that done and did a tremendous job with our football team and won a game. To our first game here at home last week after losing Coach and winning that game in front of our fans to laying Coach to rest yesterday and then have an opportunity come in here to get the second player that we've acquired since he's been gone. Aaron Curry was the first and now Carson Palmer. Obviously this one, people would say is a little more significant than getting Aaron Curry because it's a quarterback. There's no question and no doubt about that but any player that we put on this football team in my opinion is going to be someone that can help us attain our goal, which is winning a championship and that's all I'm interested in. I'm interested in winning. I told the team and I told the organization; my job as I told you is to do everything I can to make sure that we're able to do that and I think that's what we've done today. So we're going to obviously talk to Carson a little bit, but this is about our future, where we're headed, where we're trying to go, and whatever questions you guys have, let them rip.
Q: Will Carson start on Sunday?
Coach Jackson: You think I'm going to tell you that right now. You know me a little bit better than that. Okay, you do try. All you guys try; I'm not going to let that out of the bag just yet but you guys be ready for anything from me. I think you know that. We'll see as we continue to move through the week exactly where we are.
Q: Carson, some fans may be a little bit worried because of the acrimony you had in Cincinnati and saying you were willing to retire how much of your heart is still in this. And when you see the Raiders pay a high price, do you feel sort of a responsibility to let them know they made the right choice?
Carson Palmer: A tremendous burden. I was telling somebody just a little while ago that I went to bed last night at 10:30 a retired football player and I got the text message at 4:00 a.m. and was told to get on a plane to Oakland. So, it's been a whirlwind and I understand what's expected of me. I've played in this league for eight years; I know what it's about. I know what playing quarterback is about in this league and it's about winning. I want to come in and contribute and do everything I can – whatever I can to help this team.
Q: Congratulations, Carson. Question for you and Coach – How do you get your mindset back to playing football when you were convinced you were ready to retire? And Coach – did you hesitate at all with the price tag? How long did you have to think and would this ever occurred prior to Jason Campbell's injury?
Carson Palmer: My mind has been in football. It's been a difficult six weeks. Football is what I know; it's all I know. It's what I've been doing since I was five, six, seven, eight years old and I've followed the game, I've worked out, I've continued to stay focused on football and keep my mind in football. So, I haven't been away from the game. I haven't been playing it for six weeks, comparatively speaking the guys that are on teams, but my mind's been in it.
Coach Jackson: I think you brought up a good point. Obviously first of all, I'd like to take us back to Jason. Obviously, Jason was the starting quarterback on this football team and did a fantastic job. Very unfortunate that he got hurt and had surgery yesterday, he's resting comfortably, and we're going to miss him because Jason did so many good things here not just on this football team, but also in the community. Then, you think of Kyle Boller and what he did just this past week of helping this team get a win and that's what they are – those guys are pros and I'm really glad to have had an opportunity to work with Jason, watch what Jason did, and how he led this team and we're going to miss him. We wish him a very speedy recovery and I hope he gets back in the building soon. But obviously, Kyle's got to go to work tomorrow. He's got some work to do, but as far as the draft picks and what we had to give up to get this young man, I never hesitated because again, I know exactly what I'm getting. When you go back, I think you guys know my history with Carson. Obviously, I recruited and coached Carson in college. I was with him in Cincinnati at the Bengals, so I have a longstanding history with him and I know what we're putting on this football team. I went to Mark and Amy and said, 'Hey look, this is the person that I think that we need to add in order to get to where I want to take this organization.' Being that Jason is not here – obviously, you said, 'Would this have happened if Jason had been here?' Probably not; no question. We were moving at a pretty good pace. We're a 4-2 football team and we're getting better but like I said, it was unfortunate that that happened but then you have to respond. Again, I go back to the commitment from the organization, the commitment from Mark, the commitment to our players, that my job is to do everything I can to make sure I'm putting us in the best situation to win and that's what I'm always going to do.
Q: Carson, what exactly have you been doing the past six weeks and when did Hue recruit you harder? Coming out of high school or to come here?
Carson Palmer: If you know Hue or you've been recruited by Hue, you don't get recruited any harder than by this guy. For the past six weeks, I thought I was retired. Before the start of the season, I was training like it was a normal offseason for myself and going about my business like I normally would in the offseason. And then week one hit and I thought, 'I've got to look elsewhere. I've got to start to find what the next phase of my life might be.' Like I said, I got a text late last night and then early this morning saying, 'This might happen. You need to get on a plane.' I'm ready to go – I'm excited, I'm honored. I don't know a lot about this organization, but I know that it's dedicated to winning. I know the history, I know where this organization has been, and where it wants to get back to and I'm excited to be a part of that.
Q: What makes you think that Carson is still the player you had in Cincinnati as opposed to a guy whose numbers weren't quite that good the last few years?
Coach Jackson: This is not about numbers; this is about the person because I know his heart, I know his passion, I know his dedication to the game. I think sometimes, as I've told you guys before, the quarterbacks get too much blame and sometimes they get too much credit. I'm not concerned about Carson's past. I never would be and that doesn't even hit my mind because I know with me and him and the rest of this staff and this football team where we're going to go and that's the most important thing. What's gone on for Carson in Cincinnati and me is over. The future is now, the time is now, and that's what I'm going to worry about.
Q: Are you willing to share with us about what Mr. Davis may have shared with you about Carson Palmer as a quarterback?
Coach Jackson: One thing I know about about Coach – he loved tall, athletic quarterbacks from USC; that's for sure. One thing he loves – guys that can throw the ball down the field and this man can. So, I think he'd have been very excited, very happy. The thing I got excited about is because his son is very excited and very happy. That told me what Coach might have felt too. Mark is very excited about us adding Carson to this football team.
Q: Carson, you've had a reputation for being a long thrower and they like to play vertical ball here. In the recent past, my impression is that you had some arm problems. You were not throwing the deep ball as much. Has that come back to you?
Carson Palmer: Yes it has. My job is to prove that I can do it and I'll do it.
Q: It came back just by healing or also by the workouts you were doing?
Carson Palmer: I had an elbow injury in 2008 and I'm fully recovered. I've been rehabbing for almost a year and a half, two years after that. I've been throwing and my arm feels as good as it ever has, I'm very confident in it and it's my job to answer that question and the only way I can do that is on the field and throwing it.
Q: Carson, given that you said up until last night you thought you were retired, what is your level physically? How ready are you to take the field and play?
Carson Palmer: Well, it's going to take some time. I think the only way you can get in football shape is by playing football. You can run wind sprints, lift weights, and do all those things but calling a play in the huddle when you're tired after you just ran, you get the wind knocked out of you, you getting up off the ground and you get ready to just talk in the huddle; things like that, catching your breath, that's football shape and the only way you do that is in practice and in games so obviously, I'm not there yet. But, I'll lift until I'm 75 years old or until the doctor tells me not to. I'll stay in shape my whole life. I enjoy working out, so although my mindset was, 'This might be it. I might be retired,' I still was working out and doing a lot of things I had been doing my whole career.
Q: Carson – what about your situation when you were in Cincinnati made you say I'll retire rather than go back?
Carson Palmer: It was time to move on, simply put. It was time for them to move on, it was time for me to move on, and I'm just happy and thankful the Bengals organization made that decision also and ended up getting this trade done.
Q: Mike Brown of the Bengals, he seemed like he was set and wasn't going to trade Carson Palmer and yet, you give him a call and now Carson's here. How did that happen? Did it have anything to do with your relationship with him?
Coach Jackson: Probably so, I'm sure. I have so much respect for Mike having worked there with him, been in drafts with him, coached some of his best players in my opinion in that organization and I think he has a respect for this organization and Coach Davis. I think the respect was mutual and he said so. He said, 'Hue, I like you and I want to see you do well and I want to see Carson do well and I want us to do well, being the Bengals.' So I think at the end of the day, I think it was a fit for everybody and I think it worked out on everybody's behalf.
Q: Carson, a couple things. One is, you say you stay in shape how many footballs have you been throwing? Second, have much football have you been watching? Have you watched any Raiders games? What games have you been watching and what have you been doing?
Carson Palmer: Well, to answer the first question not enough footballs. It's tough to round up guys that are NFL-caliber guys to throw to; that's obviously difficult to replicate. I have been throwing with a guy that Coach used to coach in T.J. Houshmandzadeh. He and I have been training together, but it's hard to simulate seven-on-seven drills and obviously, 11-on-11 drills. So, that's been difficult but I've been throwing a football my whole life. I'm confident I'll get it back quick; it's like riding a bike. The second question was?
Q: Have you been watching any Raiders games? What games have you been watching?
Carson Palmer: I've been watching them all. I've watched their four games – our four games. Obviously on DirecTV it's tough to get what I need to get from the game. Watching the TV cut is different than watching the coaches' cut, but I've already been given a computer full of stuff to watch and I'll dig into that as soon as we're out of here.
Q: Hue, does this team have to win a Super Bowl to justify what you gave up?
Carson Palmer: I think this team is poised to win whatever we need to win. I said that before – we're not putting people on this team just to put them on there. We're chasing a championship and I'm not going to tell you I'd be disappointed if we don't, but I'd probably be mad if we didn't. But, I'm very excited about this football team and where it has a chance to go and obviously, Carson's a huge piece of that and the players that are already here are a huge piece of that. The players that continue to come here will be a huge piece of that. I just think that we're building and we're headed in the right direction and I think we're going to get there; I truly do.
Q: Carson, with your relationship with Hue , how long will it take for you to be comfortable in the playbook to feel like you're ready to take over this team? Will it be this week or does it take longer just to get acclimated to the playbook?
Carson Palmer: Well, I think that decision is up to Coach. I'm going to do everything on my end and everything I can to get it down as quickly as possible. Fortunately, some of the stuff that they've been doing is something I'm quite familiar with and have been doing myself. But as far as whenever they need me, as far as the first question, I'm going to do whatever they ask me to do, I'm going to learn as fast as I can, and when they want me to contribute, I'll be ready.
Q: You said you were retired, so you weren't looking at any possible landing spots or thinking what if or wondering where you might play?
Carson Palmer: I definitely did. There were a number of times when teams were approaching the Bengals and it didn't work out. It was a very difficult time; I didn't know what was going to happen. I didn't know what was around the next turn, the next week, or the next month. There was a lot of confusion and I really didn't know what was next or what was going to happen.
Q: Did you always think you were still going to play again?
Carson Palmer: I definitely hoped and wanted to, I just didn't know if a trade was going to happen.
Q: When you get traded to another team, this is only your second team you'll be playing for, chemistry is really tough to get. How do you feel you are going to fit into this locker room?* *
Carson Palmer: I think I will fit into the locker room pretty well. I'm pretty easy going and laid back, I've gotten along my entire career playing football - High School, College, and the NFL – with my teammates. That chemistry aspect isn't an issue with me. Just the chemistry with timing with the receivers, two-minute drills, there are a lot of different aspects of playing quarterback, a lot of different verbiage depending on third down, red zone stuff, backed up stuff, two-minute drills whatever it may be, that chemistry is what I need to get on top of tonight.
Q: A quarterback is always the focus, and you have gone through the process in High School and College. In coming to a situation like this where the Raiders have paid a very high price, is there a danger of trying to hard to produce and trying to prove the trade was the right deal?
Carson Palmer: I don't think so. I have been around long enough to know the sacrifices that this organization made to get me. I also understand that there is a lot that comes with playing this position, playing quarterback, a ton of burdens aside from what the organization may have given up to get you, you have a fan base you want to keep happy so that they can brag and teammates who you want to play good for and win for, especially the quarterback position, trying to spread the ball around. It is definitely a burden and I'm going to take it head on and do everything I can to win.
Q: The Raiders have had a history of getting guys that may have fallen out of favor with other teams. Do you see yourself in that mold?
Carson Palmer: Not necessarily. I don't pay a whole lot of attention to what goes on in the media, so I'm not exactly sure how I am perceived. I just try to focus, especially during the season, on my job and doing exactly what is asked of me each week. To me, this is a new opportunity, it's a fresh start, and something I couldn't be more excited about.
Q: I know you love the game. I'm wondering what pushed you to the point where you were willing to retire instead of playing something that you love so much and do you foresee anything crossing you the wrong way where you would contemplate retiring again?
Carson Palmer: I don't. I'm excited to be where I am. I'm excited that this happened. I'm not going to go in depth about what happened on individual or certain things that happened. This is a fresh start and I'm excited to be here. For me to go into certain aspects of what happened in the past that's the past to me now. I am looking towards the future and looking towards tomorrow morning, starting meetings, getting out there for practice and the next however many weeks this season lasts that's what I am focused on now.
Q: Two questions, the first one is that you mentioned that your arm is completely healed, are there any other injuries concerns that you have of any kind? The second question is, when you were in Cincinnati, you had Chad Ochocinco and T.J. Houshmandzadeh and you had a lot of chemistry with those guys. What was the key to that and do you see potential for that on this Raiders team?
Carson Palmer: To the first question, yes I am completely healthy and nothing is lingering. As far as the chemistry, it is a very young group of guys. They are guys that I don't know yet, but everything I have heard that it is a hungry group, exciting group, physical, fast group that I'm excited to have as much influence as I can on these guys. I want to take them under my wing and tell them what I know and from the coaching they are getting from the coaches on this staff that is a good combination and I'm excited to get to work with them.
Q: A lot of people are looking from the outside saying you traded your whole draft next year. I am curious about your thoughts on what you will get back in terms of compensatory picks and your capability of trading players for draft picks if you need to? And second also you added a safety and released one player. Is there a corresponding roster move to bring in Carson?
Coach Jackson: Nothing at this time for Carson. I know a lot of people think that we mortgaged the future of the organization, but I don't see it that way. I don't think you ever mortgage away your franchise when you add a big time franchise quarterback to your team. I appreciate what everybody thinks, but I'm really concerned about what we think here and I think we are very comfortable. Number two, 2012 will take care of 2012 when we get there. Like you said there are some compensatory picks we may get, there are all kind of different directions to go. We have a very creative staff and we know how to attack it head on and we will. We will do everything we can to make sure we are a very competitive team, but obviously Carson is a huge part of that as we continue to move forward.
Q: Knowing the trade deadline was today, when you saw Jason get hurt Sunday, did you begin to think that the Raiders would be your last chance to play this year?* *
Carson Palmer: No, I saw what happened, it came up on NFL.com and the thought somewhat came across my mind but I still didn't see it coming.
Q: You grew up in Southern California, and you said you didn't know much about this organization. Are you saying you were a (Los Angeles) Rams fan growing up?
Carson Palmer: No, to be honest, growing up in Southern California, I wasn't watching games. The first thing Hue asked me was if I had ever been to an USC game when he was recruiting me and I hadn't. I wasn't in the house watching T.V., I wasn't an NFL fan; I didn't root for a particular team, I would watch the highlights. My dad, my brother and the rest of my family and I would watch Monday Night Football, but I was always outside a lot. I would play any sport I could possibly play because there wasn't really a team, the L.A. Rams were there for a little bit of my childhood, but I didn't have a local NFL team and the closest ones were the Chargers and the two Bay Area teams, but I was into any sport I could go out and play on the streets.
Q: Quick question for Coach -- how much has your workload changed since the death of Al Davis and could you see yourself as a Coach/GM on a long-term basis?
Coach Jackson: I'm the Head Coach of the football team. I'm not the GM of the team, but I know a lot of people think that. We have a team of people who is spearheaded by Mark Davis and Amy Trask. Those are the people I go to and ask and seek information from or bring solutions to things that will help our football team. I'm not the acting GM, I'm not this or that. I'm just the Head Coach of this football team and I call the plays on offense and make sure our defense stops the run, so that's what I do. I'm not concerned about that, but whatever role they need me to play is what I will do because if it produces wins then I am all for it. What I have been able to do is tie relationships together as we move forward. I had a relationship in Cincinnati so that helped bridge the gap to get some things done so I could get Carson here, who is a player that I am familiar with on this football team. I think that is the most important thing, it's about having an organization, about having a team of people that are so good at communicating and so good at working together that we can become one and I think that's what we've done. I think more so than anything else after Coach's death, this organization is growing by leaps and bounds because there are so many people that are good at what they do and we are able to connect the dots on things as we continue to move forward. We get to pull from each other and work together and get things accomplished.
Q: These last ten days, with the passing of Mr. Davis, this blockbuster trade, dramatic victories, you have been the rudder to steer this franchise through. Have you ever been through ten days like this in your life?
Coach Jackson: Oh no. But I'm excited about it. I've been telling you guys that this is fun for me. I'm a little tired but this is fun. I told you I am best when there is drama and all kind of stuff coming on. I say keep it coming, this has been great. But I don't like to get players injured, let me make that point. I definitely don't want that to happen. But this has been a lot of fun for me; again it's about the people in this organization. There are some tremendous people in this organization to work with, and I think you can see it. We are starting to become something and that's what we are going to do here.
Q: You obviously have a history with Carson, what is it about him that makes you feel so strongly that he is the right guy to come in and lead this team right now?
Coach Jackson: Because of my personality and my vision through Coach Davis' vision for this organization, and what the characteristics of the quarterback position is for us, he has all of those characteristics. I know it, I've seen it, I've witnessed it, I've been a part of it with him. This guy can play and he knows how to play the game and how to elevate the players around him. There is no question that you go on offense as good as your quarterback is and I think he is one of the best. That's why he is on this football team now. I didn't bring him here just because he was out there. I brought him here because I think he can help this team win a championship.
Q: Carson, would a trade anywhere been acceptable for you or did you have a list of teams you approved of?
Carson Palmer: When you are in the situation I'm in, you don't get to pick. It's not like being a free agent, if you get traded somewhere, you go. I didn't have a set list of teams, I didn't know. I was in uncharted waters, but I could not be happier for this opportunity and I'm just excited to be here with this guy [Coach Jackson].
Q: Hue, when the injury happened, did you immediately know you would need a quarterback right then and did you think of Carson? A lot of names were being thrown out by us and of course we asked you yesterday, but because of your relationship, did you know he was your guy even before you got him?* *
Coach Jackson: I've always known that since Carson had retired that he was out there, but like you said prior to the injury there was nothing that we needed at that time, we were okay at the time. Once the injury happened we started searching through all the names and like you said there were a lot of names to search through. There was a process to it and we had to make sure it was the right fit for us, the right fit for our football team, the right fit for the organization, the right fit for everything and that's what we did. I didn't do this myself, Mark Davis and Amy Trask and I sat down and talked about these things and where we needed to go. The fun part is that I got to throw out these recommendations, but they get to sit and think about it. It led us to this gentleman sitting over here to my right and I'm thankful for that.
Q: Who was on the phone doing the negotiating for this with the Bengals?
Coach Jackson: We all play a role that. Obviously I talked to Mike Brown, that part of it was easy because I have a relationship with him, but I think several members of the organization talked to them. I know Amy had to talk to a group of people, I know that our negotiators had to talk to a number of people, Marc Badain, Dan Ventrelle, Tom Delaney, we all worked together. It started with me because I know Mike and I know Carson, but it's not just me. You also have to be given permission to do certain things too.
Q: You said this was the greatest trade in football. What do you think is the second greatest?
Coach Jackson: I will let you know when we make it.