Installment #8: The Retooling Continues
And so, the story of rebuilding goes on in Carolina. I got the notification on my phone early Monday morning that David Tepper and the Carolina Panthers had decided to part ways with general manager Marty Hurney, effectively immediately. Not exactly the most shocking news to me but still attention-grabbing. Hurney has been with the organization for a long time, and is credited with helping to put together some of the most memorable teams in franchise history. But presently, as the Panthers sit at 4-10 with two games remaining and the team heads into another offseason of major changes and a high draft pick, the team owner felt that it was time to make another front office change. I can't say that I blame him or disagree.
In a December, 2019 interview when the Panthers parted ways with head coach Ron Rivera, David Tepper spoke at length about the retooling and rebuilding process. "Rome was not built in a day," the Panthers owner said. "People think that just because you make one change today, it means the team will be great tomorrow. It does not. It is a process." Tepper went on to say that he thought Marty Hurney was one of the best evaluators of individual talent that there was. So he would remain on as GM but there would be an assistant put in place. Tepper and Hurney would hire Baylor head coach Matt Rhule as the new Panthers man-in-charge just prior to the 2020 season.
In this year's press conference via Zoom, the atmosphere was similar to a year ago. Just like with Rivera, Tepper dismissed a member of front office personnel with games remaining on the schedule. When asked about the timing of these firings, Tepper told the media that he felt that this was the right time to relieve Marty Hurney of his duties. It is the right time for him and the team so that they can look for a new general manager and hopefully have him on board by the NFL draft this spring. It was the right time for Rivera, and in this instance Hurney, so that those men could begin looking for new employment opportunities before the beginning of next season. Ron Rivera was hired as the head coach of the Washington Football Team less than two weeks of leaving the Panthers and there is some talk that Marty Hurney may be on his way up I-95 to work in our nation's capital as well. We'll see what happens in the coming months.
This is actually the second time that Marty Hurney has been let go by the Carolina Panthers. The veteran general manager has been with the team on and off for nineteen of the last twenty-three years. He began in 1998 as Carolina's director of football administration and became GM in 2002. He was removed after the 2012 season, but became general manager again on an interim basis in 2017. Hurney would ultimately reclaim the position full-time in 2018 and this current contract was supposed to go through June, 2021.
Marty Hurney was instrumental in putting together the meat of those teams that played in Super Bowl XXXVIII and Super Bowl 50. He drafted and acquired guys like Cam Newton, Luke Keuchly, Thomas Davis, Ryan Kalil, and Greg Olsen. These awesome five football players were leaders on a 2015 team that went 15-1. Hurney also drafted the foundation on which the Panthers will build on moving forward, including DJ Moore, Brian Burns, Derrick Brown, Jeremy Chinn, and Yetur Gros-Matos.
So, that is exactly what the Carolina Panthers will do. Move forward. David Tepper put it best when he stated, "I think it was good for me and Matt to have another year with Marty. He's a great teacher. But sometimes, the students have to graduate." Even though I am kind of sad to see Marty Hurney go and I never will forget everything he has done for my favorite football team, this is just another part of the business of sports and the retooling of the Carolina Panthers. What a ride it has been!