Panthers' new GM Gettleman ready to take charge

STEVE REED AP Sports Writer Published:

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- Panthers owner Jerry Richardson is confident new general manager Dave Gettleman and coach Ron Rivera are the right men to "fix things" in Carolina.

The Panthers haven't been to the postseason since 2008 and haven't won a playoff game since 2005. Richardson said he's counting on both to change that trend soon.

"I think his experience will not only benefit the organization, but will be terrific for Ron at this time of his career," Richardson said.

Richardson introduced Gettleman at a news conference Tuesday, saying he likes that his new GM comes from a winning organization like the New York Giants. Gettleman has been to six Super Bowls with Buffalo, Denver and the Giants and has won three championships.

Gettleman, wearing a suit, glasses and Super Bowl ring on his right hand told Richardson through his thick Boston accent, "if we do this right, you and I will be holding up a trophy."

The 61-year-old Gettleman said he wondered if this opportunity would ever come after spending 25 years in the league but continuously being passed over for interviews.

"The say good things come to those who wait and I feel like this is absolutely the perfect fit for me," Gettleman said. "... It was time for me to move to significance and a lot of that is thinking about legacy. What is your legacy?"

Gettleman admitted to being frustrated that he was never granted any interview opportunities for general manager positions around the league despite his past success. He took a calculated gamble last year, asking Giants co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch if he could take a step back from his role with the team to focus on his future.

Gettleman wanted to step away from the day-to-day grind of evaluating personnel to get a broader scope of the league, which he felt might help him land a GM position.

He said he wanted to move "from success to significance."

It paid off.

Now he said he feels like he's hit the lottery in Carolina.

Current Giants GM Jerry Reese said Gettleman's legacy in New York as a personnel evaluator is outstanding and called him a terrific hire for the Panthers.

"Wherever he goes, Super Bowls follow him," Reese said.

Richardson is hoping that success follows him to Carolina, a team that has the second-fewest wins in the league since 2010 with 15.

Richardson didn't address reporters after introducing Gettleman.

Rivera attended the press conference but the normally talkative coach only spoke only for about a minute to reporters afterward before being shuffled out of the room.

Rivera said Richardson was very forthright with him their meeting on Jan. 5, saying "we had a great meeting and things turned out the way I was hoping."

Rivera said didn't feel like he was on pins and needles waiting for a decision from Richardson. He felt confident the team's strong finish -- the Panthers won four of their last five games -- would help him keep his job.

"We had an opportunity to go through a lot of the stuff as to who we are and the opportunity we're going to have," Rivera said.

Gettleman did not have any input on the decision to retain Rivera. In fact, the two men never met until last week.

But Gettleman offered confidence in Rivera and the current Panthers scouting department heading into next season.

"I don't have a list of coaches in my back pocket," Gettleman said. "I have no interest in that."

Gettleman inherits a team that is $16 million over the NFL salary cap and certainly his first moves will be that of subtraction rather than addition.

He said he hasn't had a chance to fully evaluate the Panthers roster and wasn't ready to take questions about specific players.

However, he said he's excited that the Panthers have a franchise quarterback in place in Cam Newton.

As for his philosophy in terms of free agents, it's not unlike that of former general manager Marty Hurney. Gettleman said he plans to build through the draft saying "you have to raise your own."

He called venturing into free agency and throwing big money at marquee players "dangerous."

Gettleman said he believes the key to success in the NFL is making decisions "unemotionally and objectively."

"You have to put the proper value on the player and you get in trouble when you overpay," Gettleman said. "The litmus test on the cap is when the ink is dry and you're not happy then you've made a mistake."

Former Bills, Panthers and Colts GM Bill Polian called Gettleman a "grinder," a term of respect for those in the business.

"He's a terrific evaluator and he's a hard worker," Polian said.

Reese said Gettleman has the skill set to be a great general manager and help lead the Panthers back to prominence.

But he added that only time will tell how successful he'll be in Carolina.

"This is a show-me business," Reese said. "If he wins, he's a good GM. If he doesn't win people will say he's not a good GM. But that is what you sign up for and Dave knows that. There is no in between in this business."

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