If things work out, Dave Gettleman could be the last general manager Jerry Richardson will ever hire. The 76-year old patriarch of the Carolina Panthers has had a lot on his plate recently, like a meeting with city officials on Monday to ask for a reported $125 million for upgrades to his 17-year old self-built stadium which would insure the long-term viability of the team in Charlotte.
But in the here and now, Richardson was front and center once again in Gettleman’s introductory press conference at Bank of America Stadium poking fun some fun at a reporter asking if had he missed him and if he reached the number 13, as in a dozen previous times he reported the owner “didn’t do something right.”
Introduced by public relations head Charlie Dayton, Richardson said he had some “extraordinary candidates” for the position created with the mid-season firing of Marty Hurney and that it was not a rushed process. He also noted that former Giants GM Ernie Accorsi was there to help him in the search and hiring of a new man. Gettleman was a trusted aid of Accorsi when both were in New York.
“One of the things a general manager has to be able to fix things,” said Richardson. “I think his experience will not only benefit the organization but it will be terrific for Ron (Rivera, the head coach) this time in his career.”
After introducing his family at the behest of Richardson, Gettleman immediately tied the Panthers and his former team as having similar philosophies, “Doing business with integrity, honesty as well as having a similar structure and a family atmosphere. I am excited to work with and learn from the current Panthers’ family and from this point on it’s about working together and fulfill Mr. Richardson’s dream.”
Gettleman is considered to be a football lifer, a quarter of a century in the industry, and at the age of 61 he is just now getting a chance to run a club the way he wants after learning from some “great, great people.” It was a case of good things coming to those who wait and now he feels that the Panthers are a good fit. However, he did talk about why he never got this chance before now.
“Frankly, I was a little frustrated at the lack of opportunities I had to even interview for GM positions,” he said.” I read a great book about seven years ago written by Bob Buford called [Halftime:] Moving from Success to Significance. I think, without being arrogant or bragging, I’ve had a pretty successful career. It was time for me to move to significance and part of that is thinking about legacy. As you get older you need to think about such things.”
Gettleman made it clear he did not want to go to work just to collect a paycheck and after watching four general managers be hired last year without a whiff of consideration he took things into his own hands and initiated contact with the Panthers. He explained what he was doing to his bosses with the Giants and they understood. He got a chuckle when he said he was looking for a team that wanted someone with, shall we say, a little more experience.
“I just needed someone that was looking for an older, more mature man,” he joked. “That’s what it came down to. Our culture is about the next young whizbangers, the next great thing. That’s just where we’re at right now as a culture. It was one of those deals where he’s an old dinosaur, he’s probably cranky.”
The sense of humor is probably one of the things that endeared him to Richardson in the interview process. You can talk x’s and o’s, trades, free agency and salary cap until you are blue in the face, but Gettleman seems to be comfortable in his own skin and that could work in his favor as he takes on a team that has the components for a winner but is still lacking that certain something that could put them over the top.
Gettleman is a “what you see is what you get” man but comes with a laundry list of those who approve his hiring including one top official from his former team.
“Dave is extremely qualified to be the general manager of the Panthers and will do a terrific job,” Giants GM Jerry Reese told the New York Daily News. “The Panthers interviewed two of the top personnel executives in the NFL in Dave and Marc Ross, and couldn't go wrong either way, in my humble opinion."
STADIUM NEWS: It appears there could be a growing concern about whether the Panthers will remain in Charlotte. Owner Jerry Richardson is 76-years old, had heart transplant surgery in 2009, although he looked very fit at Tuesday’s press conference, dumped his two sons as team executives and has made no public announcement as to who will succeed him if he has to step down or pass away. Now he has asked the City of Charlotte for $125 million to renovate the 17-year old Bank of American Stadium that he built.
Mayor Anthony Foxx has said that he is open to helping Richardson, but the price tag may be more than anyone may have thought. It was suggested that an additional one-cent restaurant tax could help fund the upgrades and no one at this point knows if it has to be approved by the state or if the tax will apply within the Charlotte city limits and accepted by officials.
Richardson and team president Danny Morrison met with Council members late Monday in the basement of the Government Center behind closed doors.