Former Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians, who was Palmer’s head coach at Temple, announced his retirement from coaching last week after a career that spanned more than four decades.
During his tenure, Arians coached major college football at Alabama and Mississippi State and had various NFL coaching stints with the Saints, Colts, Browns and Steelers.
Arians, who also mentored Montgomery County products Craig Turner at Alabama and Darnell Dockett in Arizona, called Palmer the best player he’s ever coached.
“This is really a fitting culmination to an amazing football journey,” said Arians. “I’ve been around some great ones but, pound for pound, there were none better than Paul Palmer. He had all the athleticism and talent in the world, but what truly separated him was his heart and toughness. You can look at his amazing stats and all those records; they don’t show you just how fearless he was running up the middle at his size against some of the top defenses in the country. I can’t express how thrilled I am for Paul and how proud I have always been to say I was his coach.”
During his career at Temple, Palmer set the gold standard for the football program’s running backs. He still remains the school’s all-time career rushing leader with 4,895 yards from 1983 to 1986.
As a Temple senior in 1986, Palmer led the nation in rushing yards (1,866), rushing yards per game (169.6) and all-purpose yards (2,633) and earned a spot as a unanimous first-team All-American. He was also named the 1986 ECAC Player of the Year and was the runner-up for the Heisman Trophy that went to Miami quarterback Vinny Testaverde that season.
During his professional career, Palmer also competed for the Dallas Cowboys and the Barcelona Dragons of the World League of American Football.
Palmer’s selection to the College Football Hall of Fame was met with pride from the Scotland community in Potomac.
“Me and Brian Dove raised Boo Boo,” said Jay Dove, one of Palmer’s close relatives. “I’ve been with that boy ever since the day he came onto this earth.”
Palmer, who was born in Bethesda, played youth league football for the Bethesda Boys Club before going onto greener pastures at Churchill and later at Temple.
“He had something special,” recalled Dove. “He had it as a little kid. He had that ‘it.’”
You can contact Brandy at: email@example.com.