Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Bengals QB wins hearts of pupils

By Karen Vance
Enquirer contributor

Carson Palmer reads Kick the Football, Charlie Brown to the third-graders. He also fielded questions: about the Bengals, where he went to college, and his favorite food - pizza.

MIAMI TOWNSHIP - For an "entrance," it doesn't get any bigger than this for a third-grader.

Tim Lay, a student at Mulberry Elementary, pulled up at school Tuesday in a limo. And besides his 11-year-old brother, Michael, he brought a guest: Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer.

Palmer's visit was arranged because Tim had won a contest, "Take a Player to School," co-sponsored by JC Penney and the National Football League. All 32 NFL teams are participating in the contest.

"It's kind of funny: Michael gave me (an entry form), and I won," Tim, 9, told his classmates.

Palmer read the morning announcements and then headed to the school's "auditeria" to meet 82 wide-eyed third-graders.

He slapped hands with a line of students as he entered, read them a story, answered questions and tossed around a toy football.

"You can ask me some questions, about football, or the Bengals, or maybe when we're going to win our next game," Palmer said. He fielded questions about where he went to college, and his favorite food - pizza.

While some students loved giving Palmer a high five, others said their favorite time was when he read Kick the Football, Charlie Brown to them, making sure to show the students the pictures in the book.

Third-grade teacher Anna Kelley said the visit made a strong impression on her students.

"I think the best part about it was they got to hear from a role model how important reading is to their future," she said.

Palmer finished his time with the third-graders by throwing each of them a pass.

"I dived for it. I just missed it. I almost caught it," said 8-year-old Cody Bishop. "It was cool."

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