The Dynamic Duo Does It Again.
When a team goes from 2-14 one year and are Super Bowl contenders a few years later, people often look at the quarterback, head coach, or other areas for the sudden success. The top dogs in the front office are often overlooked by the general public. The two main influences, Jerry Richardson (Owner/Founder) and Marty Hurney (General Manager), have done a lot to make the Panthers a competitive team with hope for the future.
After playing for the Baltimore Colts and catching passes for Johnny Unitas, Jerry Richardson made his way in business with the Hardees franchise and later as CEO for Flagstar. Jerry was awarded the team in 1993 and became only the second former player to become owner of an NFL team (George Halas was the first). Having a former player and successful businessman as the owner was a great foundation for the Panther nation.
His excitement and enthusiasm have allowed the Panthers to flourish as the years have passed. An example of his involvement can be shown by his comments after signing Jeremy Shockey and again later with Cam Newton. For Jeremy, he told him not to change his personality because it could be good for the team, but he (Jerry) could do without the tattoos. With Cam Newton, Jerry asked if he had any tattoos. Cam said, “No sir, I don’t have any.” Jerry responded with “Good. We want to keep it that way.” Jerry went on to say later “he was not a choir boy and didn’t want a roster of 53 choir boys”, but his commitment to class and excellence is evident by the players who take the field for him and the success of the team over the years. His old school attitude and desire to succeed are big reasons the Panthers are once again ready to make the playoffs.
Marty Hurney was promoted by Jerry Richardson to General Manager and his success has been witnessed by everyone around the league. Even Forbes.com could see his talent when they listed him as one of the top 10 executives in professional sports in 2007. Players he is responsible for bringing to Carolina include, but are not limited to, running back Stephen Davis, quarterback Jake Delhomme, wide receiver Ricky Proehl, linebacker Jon Beason, tackle Jordan Gross, center Ryan Kalil, and running backs DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. When you see players like this along with their impressive runs in the playoffs, including a Super Bowl appearance, it shouldn’t be surprising the Panthers are poised to be successful again.
Yes, Carolina has a great head coach in Ron Rivera, a good defense led by Jon Beason, and a superstar quarterback in Cam Newton running one of the top offenses in football. The point is that it took the vision and football savvy at the top to bring the entire scope together. When you have talented people like Jerry and Marty leading the way behind the scenes, you can go a long way.
So please remember next season to give a nod of thanks to Jerry and Marty after you high five a spectacular touchdown or toast a Panther win. They are the reason you have hope for the grand prize.