Circling Bank of America Stadium

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- I just hit the ground here and didn’t see anyone resembling Bill Cowher or Jon Gruden or any other current or former football coach as I came out of Charlotte Douglas Airport.

Although the move was common knowledge for months, today is the first day John Fox is not coach of the Carolina Panthers. It’s the first time that’s been the case since January 2002.

Ironically, the news conference to announce Fox’s hiring was the last time Panthers owner Jerry Richardson spoke to the entire Charlotte media. Through the last nine years, he’s done only a handful of one-on-one interviews and virtually all of them were with me or former co-worker Tom Sorensen of The Charlotte Observer.

Richardson doesn’t like big crowds and he doesn’t like taking attention away from his coaches and players. But it’s time for Richardson to talk (through the media) to his fans and that will come Tuesday.

There will be no announcement on the hiring of a new head coach. The search process is just getting started and Richardson is expected to outline that and explain that general manager Marty Hurney and team president Danny Morrison will spearhead that search.

Richardson is busy as the point man for the owners in the labor negotiation. He’ll get involved in the coaching hire only after Hurney and Morrison narrow the list of candidates.

It also would be wise for Richardson to talk a little about what happened with his team and explain to fans why the Panthers haven’t been active in free agency for several years and what his plans for the future are. Richardson obviously has some reasons for not paying for big free agents and some other recent moves. I believe those moves are his way of protecting his franchise against the labor uncertainty. But it would be nice to hear straight from Richardson why he made those moves and what his plans are going forward.