ALAMEDA -- The details are still a mystery, but Carson Palmer made it clear Wednesday that irreconcilable differences with Cincinnati Bengals owner Mike Brown led him down a path that ended in Oakland as quarterback of the Raiders.
"I think anybody that's ever played for that ownership knows what I was doing and why I was doing it," Palmer said.
Palmer will be the central figure Sunday when the Raiders visit the Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium, his first game back to the place where he played every home game in his career until he was dealt to Oakland on Oct. 18, 2011.
Ever the diplomat, Palmer told the Cincinnati media about how special his time was with the Bengals as far as the community, his teammates and coaches after arriving in 2003 with the Heisman Trophy and the status as the No. 1 overall pick in the draft out of USC.
Palmer shared stories and anecdotes and said he was genuinely happy for a team that made the playoffs last season without him and remains in the playoff race with a 5-5 record.
"It's one of my favorite stadiums to play in," Palmer said. "It's a great atmosphere, a beautiful stadium. Obviously, with the past, it adds a little bit."
Citing frustration that had "built up over time" with ownership, Palmer said he went to Brown after a 4-12 season in 2010 and said it was time for both sides to move on. Brown said publicly he would never reward Palmer with a trade.
During the standoff, the Bengals drafted Andy Dalton of TCU in the second round, and held on to Palmer deep into the regular season. Palmer was resigned to sitting it out until Raiders quarterback Jason Campbell broke his collarbone on Oct. 16.
With owner Al Davis having died only eight days before, then-Raiders coach Hue Jackson lobbied Mark Davis to deal for Palmer. Jackson, a former and current Bengals assistant, had a relationship with Brown, who finally relented and traded Palmer.
The price was steep -- a first-round draft pick in 2012 and a conditional selection that turned out to be a second-round pick in 2013.
With the Raiders at 3-7 this year, Palmer said he has "no regrets."
Bengals coach Marvin Lewis told Bay Area reporters by conference call it was apparent Palmer was enjoying his change of scenery.
"He's having fun," Lewis said. "Carson loves to play football. He's got a group of young receivers out there, and you can see he's really helping them develop. He's really good at that."
Raiders coach Dennis Allen has discussed the homecoming with Palmer but not the team as a whole.
"We haven't addressed it," Allen said. "We've got to worry about doing the things that we have to do to have success. We can't worry about any of those outside distractions. And really, it's not a major factor in the game."
The Bengals have changed their offensive system under coordinator Jay Gruden since Palmer's departure. Dalton, a steadily improving quarterback who has four touchdown passes and no interceptions in wins over the New York Giants and Kansas City Chiefs in the last two games, has never even met Palmer.
"Everything with Carson, I wasn't really worried about," Dalton said by conference call. "I just kind of focused on me and what I could control."
According to Lewis, 28 players on Cincinnati's 53-man roster weren't with the team when Palmer was the quarterback.
Once the game begins, Palmer will approach it like any other game.
"It's a game we have to win," Palmer said. "They're in a very similar spot. We want to keep hope alive. They want to keep hope alive. I am not going to make more of a deal about it than that."
Jackson, fired by new general manager Reggie McKenzie, called the trade at the time "the greatest trade in football." This week he told Cincinnati reporters, "Honestly, it's really just another football game. It has to be. You can't get caught up in the emotional part of it, because that's not what this is about.''