Ex-Panthers GM has 'nice start' in radio

Former Carolina Panthers general manager Marty Hurney began his career as a radio talk show host on Monday by interviewing the person he hired to coach the team that fired him.

Carolina's Ron Rivera.

"Ron, and I will say, this is really weird sitting here asking you questions," Hurney said halfway through the interview on Charlotte's ESPN 730 (WZGV-AM).

Hurney and former Charlotte WBT-AM (1110) morning host Al Gardner will host the "Hurney and Gardner" show weekdays from 1-3 p.m. ET, and Monday was the debut. Listen to the interview here.

And it was weird listening to Hurney ask Rivera questions about a team he helped build.

"How's Marty doing so far?" Gardner asked Rivera, putting the pressure on immediately.

Hurney interrupted, "Be nice, Ron. We're playing nice today."

Said Rivera, "He's doing well. You know, the best part is now he can just show everybody he has all the answers."

Replied Hurney, "Hey, always did, right?"

Hurney began the interview by complimenting Rivera for adjusting this week's minicamp (Tuesday-Thursday) practices from midday to morning because of the heat that is expected to be in the mid-90s.

From there, he asked about the wide receivers Carolina brought in to replace the top four that are gone from last season. There was no debate about whether the team made the right decision in releasing Steve Smith.

Rivera reminded it goes back to when Hurney and he drafted Cam Newton as the franchise quarterback in 2011 and how the next step in the process was to put playmakers around him.

Hurney never got to see that part play out. He was fired by the Panthers in October 2012 after the team started 1-5 under Rivera. He's laid low the past couple of years, but resurfaced in March to serve as a guest analyst on ESPN's "NFL Insiders."

Being a part of the media is nothing new for Hurney, who hired Rivera in 2011 and many of the players that contributed to this past season's 12-4 record. He was a sportswriter for the The Washington Times before moving to the team side first with the Washington Redskins and then the San Diego Chargers with general manager Bobby Beathard.

Hurney joined the personnel department at Carolina in 1998 and was promoted to general manager in 2002. The Panthers went to the Super Bowl in 2003.

Rivera was named the NFL Coach of the Year three years after Hurney hired him.

Hurney was always intense but never openly critical as a general manager. It'll be interesting to hear his take on the Panthers moving forwrad, whether he'll be critical of bad moves or game decisions.

As he told Rivera on Monday, they were "playing nice today."

It also was a nice start for Hurney as he begins another journey.