Palmer, the Raiders’ starting quarterback, played for Carroll at USC and played with Owens in Cincinnati. And Carroll said that when he reached out to Palmer for his thoughts on Owens, he received a good report.
That’s no surprise: Palmer has spoken highly of Owens in the past, and has said he thinks Owens’ work ethic makes him a good influence on younger players. It’s also not surprising that Carroll has high hopes for Owens as a positive locker room presence. Carroll was the 49ers’ defensive coordinator in 1996, Owens’ rookie season in San Francisco, so he has some familiarity with Owens. And back then, Owens was known as a hard worker who wanted to prove himself worthy of the third-round draft pick that the 49ers spent on him.
Carroll said today that he still sees that same hard worker who wants to prove himself, 16 years later.
“It’s interesting now how he is,” Carroll said. “He’s extremely hungry, and he is humble. And he’s determined to finish his career on a good note. And he wants to be part of the team, and he wants to play football.”
And so Owens will be playing football for Carroll, the only NFL head coach who still wants him.