I’ve known Carolina general manager Marty Hurney since 1999 and can tell you a few things about the man.
He’s not the world’s greatest quote when the cameras and microphones are running and he’s always going to be politically correct. He's always accessible and I can tell you Hurney is he’s not capable of flat-out lying. He obviously can’t tell the media strategic plans, but if you’re onto a story and it’s accurate, Hurney isn’t going to steer you away from it. That's about all you can really ask for in a general manager -- from a media point of view.
Hurney also is a guy who’s going to stay firmly on the high road, but I just saw him come about as close to veering slightly off that road as I’ve ever seen. Prior to this, the only experience I had with Hurney actually showing his temper were in my Charlotte days when I’d get a 7 a.m. wakeup call from him, wanting to vent about something a former co-worker of mine wrote. I used to wonder why I – and not the former co-worker – got those calls. That was Hurney taking the high road and not getting confrontational with the guy he really had a problem with.
Anyway, in this radio interview on Charlotte's WFNZ, Hurney was asked about a scathing report by Pro Football Weekly’s Nolan Nawrocki that questioned Cam Newton’s character.
“I would hope that I have more access to people than Nolan Nawrocki,’’ Hurney said. “I would hope that I would talk to the people directly. I’m going to meet Cam Newton if we’re interested in him and spend time with him individually and talk to him directly.’’
I do not know Nawrocki and we’re not allowed to criticize other media. But Hurney just did that, so let’s just focus in on his comments. As I wrote last week, I know how Hurney and Panthers owner Jerry Richardson operate.
I can assure you they have done tons of homework on Newton. They’ve got a security director, Gene Brown, who is one of the most polite people I know. But Gene’s also one of those guys with a strong background in law enforcement and can probably track down every other kid from Newton’s first-grade class and every member of their extended families.
Hurney’s also got a full staff of scouts, who are very experienced and have done all sorts of homework on Newton – on and off the field. And Hurney and coach Ron Rivera have met with Newton and they’ll do so again this week.
As of this point, Richardson, who is as big on character as any owner in the league, has seen and heard everything the Panthers have gathered on Newton. The owner hasn’t thrown up any red flag to say, “We’re not touching this guy." As it stands right now, if Hurney concludes that Newton is the best player for the Panthers to take with the No. 1 pick, they’re going to draft him.