By Mark Curnutte
Enquirer staff writer

The Enquirer/Michael E. Keating

Quarterback Carson Palmer and offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski.


Bengals forum

Carson Palmer, like many professional athletes before him who came from other states, now feels at home in Cincinnati.

The third-year Bengals quarterback, preparing for his second year as the starter, is comfortable living in Cincinnati and is looking forward to expanding his charitable contributions to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Cincinnati.

He will host the second annual Carson Palmer Foundation Golf Classic June 20 to benefit the organization dedicated to helping children. The event will be at the Heritage Club in Mason.

The golf tournament and related events last year raised more than $100,000 for the local boys and girls clubs. Palmer said he hopes to present more money this year.

"My wife and I came from great families with two parents. We were fortunate to come from great homes," Palmer said of his wife, Shaelyn, a former University of Southern California classmate. "Trying to help kids is where we wanted to put our time and energy."

In his native Orange County, Calif., the Palmers sponsored the Carson Palmer Open to raise money for Hillview Acres, a shelter for abused and underprivileged children. His second annual golf event for Hillview Acres will be July 18 at Dana Point, Calif.

Before the Open there in 2004, Palmer and his wife hosted the home's 40 children at a local restaurant for lunch. Palmer signed autographs and gave each child a pair of Nike shoes.

During Thanksgiving in Cincinnati in 2003 - his rookie season - the Palmers participated in the Feed the Children program at a local church. They helped unload food and other items for needy families. They were so touched by the experience that last year they bought a blanket for each family.

"Not that many people are in this situation (with the wealth and position) to do these things," said Palmer, who could earn up to $49 million over the life of his seven-year contract. "Because of the spot I'm in, I can put my name on a golf tournament and raise money. I can use that for the benefit of other people."

The Palmers visited the LeBlond Boys & Girls Club in Over-the-Rhine.

"We went up there to hang out," he said. "I'd like to eventually reach the point where we could put in a new cafeteria and a new playground.

"It feels great to help. But you feel like you're not doing enough. I couldn't even begin to repay any person or group of people or an organization for what I've been given."

Palmer and former Bengals quarterback Boomer Esiason talked last week at coach Marvin Lewis' golf tournament.

"I was talking to Boomer the other day, and he told me about donating $5 million in an untaxed check (for cystic fibrosis research)," Palmer said. "That's in a whole different league. Hopefully, one day that whole boys club can be new."

Palmer is invested emotionally in Cincinnati. He said the week he signed his rookie contract in April 2003 that the Midwest fit his personality.

"This is home," said Palmer, who spends all but a couple of months of the year in Greater Cincinnati. "I lived in California my whole life, but Cincinnati is home. I have my lunch spots. I have a trail to hike with my dog. I have three great fishing spots.

"It's easy to feel comfortable here."

What a class act. I reckon he's a keeper. It's nice to actually see athletes wanting to come and live in Cincinnati now. Maybe the Reds could turn a deal for him for help at the all-star break. He's got a good arm, you think he's got any good offspeed?