JORDAN PALMER looks like an NFL quarterback. That's not only because, at 6'5" and 232 pounds, he has the archetypical stature of a drop-back passer—but also because the blue-eyed, ginger-haired 23-year-old bears a striking resemblance to his older brother Carson, the Pro Bowl quarterback of the Bengals. Jordan routinely gets blitzed by autograph seekers who mistake him for Carson, and he'll probably cause greater confusion after signing a two-year pact with the Bengals on Jan. 30 for a shot to back up big bro. "If I win a job," Jordan says, " Carson knows he'll have a guy who will support him on and off the field, push him in practice and do the things a backup is supposed to do."
Jordan (right), who set UTEP career records for passing yards (11,084) and touchdowns (88), was drafted by the Redskins in the sixth round last year but was cut before the season opener. After tryouts with the Saints, Bills, Giants and Seahawks, he was days away from beginning an Arena League season with the Arizona Rattlers when Cincinnati called. The Bengals like Jordan's strong arm and sound mechanics, not to mention his gene pool, and he'll begin competing for a spot at organized team activities this spring. "He's got his work cut out for him," says Carson (above). If Jordan sticks, it will be the first time since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970 that QB brothers play on the same team.
Jordan, the youngest of four children (he and Carson have a sister and another brother), grew up an avid violin player and started at quarterback at Mission Viejo ( Calif.) High his senior year—about the time Carson was being drafted No. 1 overall out of USC. The brothers, who often surf and golf together, have never played on the same football team, and while Jordan harbors no delusions of pushing Carson for the starting job, the Palmers' setup could soon be the envy of many a football dad, even, perhaps, Archie Manning. The best thing about the signing, according to Bill Palmer, the QBs' father? (He's a benefits consultant and former high school tight end.) "A visit there, we get two for one."