With most of the talk in the NFL belonging to the undefeated Carolina Panthers, the leaders of the NFC West, the Arizona Cardinals, might be the quietest 12-2 team in history. While the Panthers are led by the flamboyant and charismatic Cam Newton, the Cardinals starting quarterback is the 13-year veteran and decidedly low-key, Carson Palmer.
It's hard to believe that Palmer, the 2002 Heisman Trophy winner and USC alum, is now 35. With some rocky seasons with the Bengals and Raiders behind him, Palmer is smack in the middle of a career renaissance. Thus far in 2015 Palmer has already been selected to his third Pro Bowl and, with two games left in the regular season, has led the Cardinals to it's best ever record, notching 12 wins for the first time in the team's 95-year-history.
And, it's not just his veteran leadership skills that are helping the Cardinals succeed. With two games left in the 2015 season, Palmer is enjoying his best season since 2007. Check out these statistics. Palmer is currently completing 64.3 percent of his passes, has thrown for a career-best 4,277 yards, and has tossed 32 touchdowns, tied for his career best in 2005. He's also only been picked off nine times, a career best not counting 2014 or 2008 when he only played in six and four games respectively. This season will only be Carson's third postseason appearance, having been on the losing end of his only two playoff games with the Bengals in 2005 and 2009. Not bad for a guy whose future was in doubt following a season-ending ACL injury in 2014.
The success couldn't happen to a more deserving guy. Carson grew up in a Christian household, graduating from San Margarita Catholic High School in Fresno, California. In interviews over throughout his career, Palmer has discussed his relationship with Christ, stating that his faith has always been part of his DNA and is what keeps him grounded from taking advantage of the fame and excesses of professional sports. "I've been a Christian as long as I can remember. I've always been in church with my family through high school and college," said Palmer in an interview with the Christian sports magazine Sports Spectrum.
"I still don't consider myself to be famous," he added. "You've just gotta be yourself. I may be better than some guy at throwing a football, but he may be better at figuring out a lawsuit or doing taxes."
Palmer is considered one of the most low-key stars in the NFL, leading a relatively normal life based on faith and family. He married his wife Shaelynn, a former soccer player at USC, in 2003, with whom he has three children. While he considers himself a competitor and believes the ultimate goal of any professional football player is to win a Super Bowl, he says his faith and his family are all that matters.
"I don't want to be done, watching football on Sundays, and saying I never got a chance to play in the Super Bowl," Palmer said in a 2014 interview with USA Today. "That lingers, heavily. Not that that's going to make me the man that I am or the father or the husband. That's not going to define me. But I want to experience that. I want to experience a run - a chance where you just get hot and you hit the playoffs and you make one of those runs, those magical (runs). However long it lasts, I want to be able to experience that."
The Arizona Cardinals will travel to Wisconsin, to face the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, December 27.