Fired Carolina Panthers general manager Marty Hurney just did a conference call with me and three Charlotte writers to discuss his dismissal.
As you would expect, Hurney was gracious, a bit emotional and reflective in talking about a stint as general manager that lasted a little more than 10 years. He first joined Carolina’s football operations staff in 1998 to supervise the salary cap.
As you would also expect, Hurney had nothing but good things to say about team owner Jerry Richardson.
“I will always have a relationship with Mr. Richardson and a very good relationship,’’ Hurney said. “I can’t tell you how much I respect him.’’
Hurney said he and Richardson met for two hours after Sunday’s loss to Dallas and Richardson delivered his final decision Monday morning. I asked Hurney what reason Richardson gave for the move.
“It’s simple: We’re 1-5, and we’re 1-3 at home,’’ Hurney said. “We laid an egg at home against the Giants on national television. We’ve come back the last two and lost against teams we felt we should beat. It can’t continue to go this way. I’m disappointed I couldn’t deliver a better team and better results."
Perhaps the most enlightening thing Hurney said came when he was asked what was wrong with the Panthers.
I followed that up by asking if quarterback Cam Newton is one of those players that needs to step up as a leader.
“I think he’s certainly capable,’’ Hurney said. “This isn’t an indictment on any player. I think leadership in the locker room is one of the most underrated things in this league because the talent level is so even.’’
Hurney made it clear this was not a mutual decision. He said it was Richardson’s call all the way.
“I’m not a quitter,’’ Hurney said. “The hardest thing about this is my final record for the season is 1-5. That’s a hard one to live with. I haven’t lost confidence in my ability.’’
But the Panthers haven’t had a winning season since 2008, and Hurney didn’t dispute that it’s time for change.
“I think that was the statement today; 1-5 is not good enough,’’ Hurney said. “This organization deserves better and Mr. Richardson deserves better.’’