Thursday, March 20, 2014
Good to see former Panthers GM resurface
By David Newton
Former Carolina Panthers general manager Marty Hurney will appear on ESPN's "NFL Insiders" on Thursday and Friday. It will be the first time he has spoken publicly since he was fired on Oct. 22, 2012, after a 1-5 start.
Hurney, in my opinion, was the fall guy that day.
It wasn't his fault the Panthers were losing. They had many of the key players -- quarterback Cam Newton, linebacker Luke Kuechly, wide receiver Steve Smith and left tackle Jordan Gross -- that helped them to a 12-4 record and NFC South title this past season.
He was the one who hired Ron Rivera, who was the NFL coach of the year this past season.
Marty Hurney was fired after a 1-5 start to the 2012 season.
His philosophy to build through the draft and not overspend in free agency is sound.
Oh, and there was the five-year, $42.5 million deal he gave to 34-year-old Jake Delhomme after the quarterback had six turnovers in the 2008 playoff loss to Arizona.
Aside from those things, Hurney is the same person who helped build the Panthers into a team that made it to the Super Bowl in 2003, the NFC Championship Game in 2005 and back to the playoffs in 2008.
What he said the day he was fired was more truth than anybody probably was willing to admit at the time.
"I think we need somebody to step up in the locker room and take hold," Hurney told reporters at Bank of America Stadium. "I think there are people capable of that. I think we need some players to step up and say enough is enough."
That finally happened last season when Gross, with the team 1-3 heading into Minnesota, gave a speech that many of his teammates credit for the ensuing eight-game winning streak.
That Hurney, a former sportswriter, has decided to resurface now is a good thing. That he's resurfacing at a time Gettleman is under siege for releasing Smith and letting Carolina's No. 2, 3 and 4 receivers get away in free agency -- not to mention failing to sign a veteran from another team -- is merely coincidence.
Hurney likes Gettleman and believes he'll do a good job.
So do I, even though I still disagree with the release of Smith.
I'm not sure what Hurney will be asked on "Insiders" (ESPN, 3:30 p.m.). I'm not sure how much he will talk about the past because he's a high-road guy. It's why players such as Johnson came to his defense when he was fired.
"Marty wasn't the reason we are losing! ... Unbelievable!" Johnson wrote on Twitter at the time.
But there will be questions, maybe a few that are uncomfortable. I'm sure you have a few. Here are five of mine:
When you said somebody needed to step up and say "enough is enough,'' did you believe the locker-room environment lacked the leadership to win? Who were the bad eggs?
Did you think at the time you signed Williams, Stewart and Johnson to big deals that it would strap the team financially this far into the future?
If you had to do it all over again with the exact same scenario, would you have given Delhomme such a big deal?
What do you think of Gettleman's decision to fire Smith?
Were you really fired, or did you just refuse to let others in the organization go and basically quit?
Some of these things surely will come up on the broadcast. How Hurney addresses them isn't as important as he's finally comfortable enough to talk football publicly again.
Hurney did a lot of good things for Carolina. Even Gettleman acknowledged that in his postseason wrap-up.