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    Palmer Accepts Unitas Award
    Palmer completed 288 of 458 passes for a USC record 3,639 yards and 32 touchdowns.
    Palmer completed 288 of 458 passes for a USC record 3,639 yards and 32 touchdowns.

    Dec 13, 2002

    By JOSHUA HAMMANN
    Associated Press Writer

    LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Southern California's Carson Palmer on Friday accepted the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, given annually to the nation's top senior quarterback.

    Palmer, one of five finalists for the Heisman Trophy, accepted the award from NFL Hall of Famer Bart Starr at the Kentucky International Convention Center.

    "It's been a Cinderella season to come from where our team came from," Palmer said. "Then we get the bowl bid going to the Orange Bowl and a guy like Bart Star calling me on the phone telling me I won an award named after a guy like Johnny Unitas. It's been a crazy couple weeks and it's just going to get crazier."

    Palmer completed 288 of 458 passes for a USC record 3,639 yards and 32 touchdowns during the regular season for the No. 5 Trojans (10-2). Palmer is the Pac-10's career leader in passing yards and total offense. The Trojans have averaged 42 points during their seven-game winning streak.

    The Palmer beat out Miami's Ken Dorsey, Marshall's Byron Leftwich, Iowa State's Seneca Wallace and Louisville's Dave Ragone.

    The winner is chosen by a panel of football experts.

    The award is named for Hall of Fame quarterback Unitas, who played at Louisville before his 18-year NFL career. Unitas died Sept. 11 at 69.

    "All I really knew was the name," Palmer said of Unitas. "My generation didn't get an opportunity to watch him play. "I knew the name and anytime anyone ever spoke of Johnny Unitas he was the best player ever, the toughest player ever."

    Palmer will be in New York on Saturday for the presentation of the Heisman. Iowa quarterback Brad Banks, Penn State running back Larry Johnson and Miami teammates Dorsey and Willis McGahee are the other finalists.

    "For me going there, I'm chalking it up as a win," Palmer said of the Heisman presentation. "Who knows what's going to happen. They say it's the closest race in history."