Mired in seventh season of double digit losses, Panthers make an all-too-familiar decision on Monday

By Richard Walker

David Tepper has been owner of the NFL’s Carolina Panthers since the summer of 2018.

On Monday morning, he followed a script common among his colleagues for the second time in his brief tenure.

When a team loses 10 or more games, changes are made.

A little more than a year since firing head coach Ron Rivera during a disappointing 5-11 season in 2019, Tepper fired general manager Marty Hurney less than two days after a loss at Green Bay dropped them to 4-10 on the current season.

“I notified Marty that we would not be extending his contract beyond the 2020 season,” Tepper said in a team news release. “This was a difficult decision. Marty has been a valuable member of our franchise and there is no way to convey my level of respect for him. We sincerely appreciate his hard work over 19 seasons and wish him well moving forward.”

Hurney is the longest-tenured and winningest general manager in team history, having served from 2002 to 2012 and again from 2017 until Monday. Carolina’s record with Hurney as general manager is 109-116 with four playoff berths, two NFC South titles and one NFC championship that earned the team its first Super Bowl in 2004.

Hurney was the team’s general manager when it set history by drafting back-to-back NFL rookies of the year Cam Newton (2011 offense) and Luke Kuechly (2012 defense). It marked only the fourth time a team had drafted back-to-back offensive and/or defensive rookies of the year in consecutive drafts.

The news came one day after Hurney’s 65th birthday and with two games remaining in the Panthers season – at Washington on Sunday and at home against New Orleans on Jan. 3.

First-year head coach Matt Rhule is expected to oversee personnel moves for the last two games as well as have a role in hiring Hurney’s successor.

Rhule was hired in January after the 5-11 season in which Rivera was let go after a 5-7 start and interim head coach Perry Fewell, a 1980 South Point High graduate, oversaw four more losses to end the season.

In their 26-year history, the Panthers have fired either the head coach or general manager after five of their seven 10-loss seasons.

Head coach and co-general manager Dom Capers was fired after going 4-12 in 1998. Head coach and general manager George Seifert was fired after going 1-15 in 2001. Head coach John Fox was fired after going 2-14 in 2010. And then Rivera last year and Hurney this season.

Only in Rivera’s first year of 2011 (6-10 record) and in 2016 under Rivera (also 6-10) were there no moves at those two positions, though Hurney’s first tenure ended six games into the 2012 season.

“I want to thank Dave and Nicole for the opportunity to be a part of this organization over the last three seasons,” Hurney said in a team news release. “I have a great relationship with Matt and everybody in the building. I believe this team is well-positioned for the future and wish Matt, the players and the entire organization all the best.”

Hurney first joined the organization in 1998 as director of football administration and then director of football operations from 1999 to 2001 before becoming general manager in 2002.