It is hard to shake a good narrative. And when the narrative is all about the postseason, it gets even harder because there is nothing you can do to change anything unless you get to the postseason and change it.
Such is the case for Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer. He has the reputation for being a guy who cannot win the big games. After a poor performance last year in Carolina, it is the looming question, even on the first day of OTAs.
For now, Palmer is saying all the right things.
He was a guest on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM and then he also took questions from reporters after the team's first OTA practice.
All the answers were what you want to hear.
Palmer told Doug Franz and Ron Wlolfley on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM he is "champing at the bit to play Carolina again."
Arizona will travel there in Week 8 in the regular season. Palmer wants to get that bad taste out of his mouth.
But he knows that even winning in Carolina in the regular season, the city where the team has been eliminated from the playoffs the last two seasons, won't do anything. He has to win the big game.
"The only thing to do is go out and win it," he said. "Can you get your team to the Super Bowl -- those questions are going to be coming at me all season long. I'm not going to duck it. I look at that opportunity to play against Carolina as a great opportunity to bounce back and hopefully be back in that championship game again and win it and put that question to bed."
Speaking to reporters after practice, he indicated the pressure to win is no negative. "That's the challenge," he said. "I love this position and I love this game because of the challenge. ... I enjoy that. I enjoy working to prove doubters wrong, I enjoy waking up every morning trying to improve on something. That's why I play the position."
But he also understands you can't get too far ahead. "There's not much explaining to it," Palmer said. "You can't win the big game until you win it. We'll revisit that when we get back to the NFC Championship. That'll be that. Right now, I'm focused on today."
What else could he possibly say? Would he admit the loss is hanging over him? That wouldn't do any good. He can't win the big game unless they get to the big game. There is no sense to worrying about it now.
The one thing we should find solace in is Palmer's demeanor. He moves on from things. He doesn't seem to let mistakes linger. It is a quiet confidence he has. He knows he can make a throw and won't shy away from it. He feels he can win it all. He's not backing down.
For now, all he can do is say the right things. During the regular season, all he can do is try and win games. Once he is in the postseason, then he can change the narrative.
It is a familiar narrative.
Back before the Arizona Diamondbacks win their championship, ace pitcher Randy Johnson had the same reputation. He was one of the best pitchers in the history of the game, but he had the reputation of not being great in the postseason. Entering the 2001 season, he was 2-6 in the playoffs. He lost his first start in the 2001 postseason, but then won two games the NLCS and three in the World Series and was co-MVP,
He finally shook the narrative. He never won another postseason start after that, but no one cared.
Palmer is in the same boat. Since he can't change anything until he actually gets there, there isn't much to do other than work on the here and now. He won't be able to get over the label if the team doesn't make it to the postseason. Once there, then he can worry about it. For now, he is saying all the right things.