GETTLEMAN GONE: PICKING UP THE PIECES by Austin Stallings

By Austin Stallings

Carolina’s latest front office shuffle sent its most successful GM in franchise history packing. As disgruntled former players weigh in, it’s become apparent the Panthers are valuing their founder’s core convictions over direct success. Now he just needs to come out and say it.

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Unless you’ve been living under a rock or partaking in an offseason media cleanse, you’ve no doubt heard this week’s big ticket news item that cued a shockwave across the NFL world.

Panthers Owner/Founder Jerry Richardson announced on Monday that Dave Gettleman, one of the most successful GM’s of the past decade (and 2015 NFL Executive of the Year), was being relieved of his duties after 4 seasons with Carolina. Eight days before the start of the team’s training camp in Spartanburg.

You’ve also since heard that former Panthers GM Marty Hurney (one of only three men to hold the position) was quickly selected to head up the operation once again in the interim.

In the days after, countless articles have cluttered the echo chamber that is internet-age sports media, as analysts and bloggers alike have attempted to make sense of the Panthers’ latest front office shuffle. All gasping for air in a crowded space, these mostly-clumsy articles have tried to convince you exactly why the abrupt decision was made, and even more that the intuitive writer has seen it coming for quite some time. But really, nobody did.

 

 

Alas — The undying need to be “the” analyst who was ahead of the curve, and the phenomena known as groupthink — work together in unison to fuel this collection of “finger on the pulse” media members who rush to justify a move that truly nobody saw coming. Oddly enough, the past year has brought us exactly zero stories about tension in the Panthers front office.

What has become apparent though — now more than ever — is that, in what may be Jerry Richardson’s final years, the franchise founder is returning to his core principles of business, which have always been to create a family atmosphere around his team.

Bringing Gettleman to Charlotte for the implicit purpose of offering a more analytical approach to the front office, and later dismissing him for seemingly the same reason — suggests that Richardson has undergone a second change of heart, and that at some point he was no longer able to stomach Gettleman’s rigid management style that landed him the job in the first place.

Not much else, short of a closed-door altercation, could explain his abrupt decision to dismiss easily his most successful GM in franchise history. One who immediately navigated his team from the doldrums of salary cap hell, straight to the height of it’s existence as a franchise — changing the city’s culture in the process.

That Jerry Richardson is exercising his right to operate his business in line with his core convictions, is admirable no doubt. But so too is the fact that Dave Gettleman was ushered out the same way he was brought in, doing it his way — and being good at it.

You’ve now seen the flurry of articles this week about Jerry Richardson bringing back that warm family feeling to his organization, echoed by the satisfied cheers of several former players whom were all shown the door by Gettleman.

While many fans immediately took to social media to back the elation of their past heroes, I’d ask if they truly believe this latest move was made in their best interest. After all, Richardson’s own handwritten message (outwardly posted in every corner of the stadium), contends that the “fan is the most valuable member of his team.”

After firing the GM who brought a feeling of stability to his franchise that it’s never seen before, that’s a harder to convince me of than ever. The fact that the move was made two months after letting former assistant GM Brandon Beane leave to take the head job in Buffalo, only adds to the frustration.

Yes, Jerry Richardson is the man responsible for bringing the NFL to the Carolinas in the first place, and should be afforded every right to operate his franchise in line with the family-first convictions that he identifies with. In fact, he should be respected for it. But today as he sits in his office on Mint Street, overlooking the stadium that his fans funded, he owes it to those very same fans to come out and say that.

While Dave Gettleman’s management style has been in question all week, he did provide those fans with the most memorable four year stretch in franchise history, and it’s not even really close. Only four teams — the New England Patriots, Seattle Seahawks, Denver Broncos, and Green Bay Packers accumulated more playoff wins during his tenure — bringing the oft-forgotten Panthers to the forefront of becoming an internationally recognized brand.

 

If you want to debate if Gettleman was the right man for the job, for this city, and for this organization — I’ll have that conversation with you. But do you know who is absolutely not fit to run a complex NFL organization? Josh Norman, DeAngelo Williams, Steve Smith, and Mike Tolbert, to start.

 

Its okay Dave I know how you feel! #agent89🕵🏼 #stevesmithsr

A post shared by Ace and SmittySr (@aceandsmitty) on Jul 17, 2017 at 10:20am PDT

 

In the coming months, interim GM Marty Hurney will be tasked with shuffling the roster all throughout training camp, staring down the barrel of impending major contracts such as Thomas Davis and Greg Olsen, and governing the many roster moves that take shape during regular season play — which Gettleman proved to have great success with. I’m sure Hurney is not the same man he was five years ago when he was shown the door after several ill-advised contracts, but he’ll have his hands full as he attempts to return a 6-win team to Super Bowl glory.

Is Eastland Mall Location Really No Good for MLS or Is This The Return of The East Charlotte Boogiemonster?

honeybeetryouts

*Deep Breath* OK, so you don’t want the former Eastland Mall location to become the home of a MLS stadium. let’s call this like it is. You don’t want the stadium to be in East Charlotte and you want to have it in Elizabeth neighborhood because you are scared of the boogieman that writers and news stations in this city created.

Sure, I get it. Put it at Memorial Stadium and you’ve got some pretty skyline pictures for Instagram but you are effectively cutting off the largest potential market for this team in Charlotte. You will get the rich kids from south Charlotte and their families who pump thousands of dollars a year into their kids club teams BUT you will make it practically inaccessible to some of the largest soccer fans in this city.

I love this city but people need to get over the fear of leaving their own zip codes. I fell in love with soccer playing in the parks of north and east Charlotte. In no part of this city will you find more people playing the beautiful game. One of us was a teacher and soccer coach for a school in East Charlotte and let me tell you that the love for soccer in that area puts our love for Hornets and Panthers to shame. This boogieman that was created destroyed not only Eastland Mall but stunted the growth of that entire part of the city and for years the city and media has done nothing to rectify that.

Here is your chance to make amends and bring life back to a very under appreciated location. 10-15 minutes from uptown, smack dab in the middle between north and south Charlotte, lots and and lots of space to make it happen, a strip that already has the foundation for business and a place that everyone has been watching and waiting for years to see what the city was gonna do with it.

Yea the MLS may want a stadium uptown but we all know that is not the right location for it and if you put the stadium in Elizabeth you may as well call it the South Charlotte MLS team. It’s time to put some money in other parts of the city that we have been grossly neglecting for years. As far as Memorial Stadium I think we have done our fair share of tearing down historical locations in this city, it is time to pump the breaks for a decade.

If You Are a Charlotte Restaurant, It’s Time for You to Play Charlotte! 

We (Buzz Bros) went out the other night to a well known Charlotte establishment to eat and watch the Hornets vs Spurs game (we won’t name the establishment on the blog because we sufficiently roasted them on Twitter). We were in the main room of the restaurant and it had more than 15 TV’s. There was 1 TV playing the Hornets game and we were seated across the room with several obstructions and poles between us and that single TV. So we asked our server if one of the 6 adjacent TV’s closer to us (all showing Seahawks vs Lions game) 1 inch apart from each other could be switched to the Hornets game. She went and asked her manager and we were told that he wouldn’t switch it. So we asked to be moved to a table closer to the Hornets game. 

We were slightly frustrated because 1 of the 6 TV’s (all next to one another) could easily be changed and EVERYONE including the 1 Seahawks fan wearing gear could still watch the game from every imaginable angle. We didn’t get upset or say anything until the TV that we asked to be changed was then changed 5 minutes later to motor cross… yes, you read that right… motor cross is ok but not the CHARLOTTE Hornets! 

Quick TV Count:

9- NFL Playoffs

2- Motor Cross

2- Arkansas vs Kentucky

1- CHARLOTTE HORNETS

This has been less of an issue since the return of the Hornets name but it is still a problem that rears its ugly head and it baffles us! Charlotte businesses were not just a year ago talking on the news about how excited they were for the potential economic impact that an All-Star game would have for them but won’t accommodate CHARLOTTE Hornets fans! So we want to help Hornets fans!

This is why we created the “Play Charlotte” page. Not only is it there to call out those places that won’t support local but will also showcase and assist those establishments in the Queen City that are Hornets Fan Friendly!

If you own a local business and you show Hornets and Panthers games we encourage you to contact us at bringbackthebuzz@gmail.com so that you can take over Play Charlotte and we can share you with the Hornets Community! OR If you are a fan at a place who won’t show the game or you want to show love to a place that is please tweet at us! 

This is how we as fans can change the culture!

Twitter: @PlayCharlotte 

Instagram: @PlayCharlotte 

Facebook

Small market is not an excuse anymore. We were awarded the All-Star game, look at the successful Greg Olsen campaign. Businesses were quick to benefit from the market flourishing but turn around and use it as an excuse not to accommodate. You can’t have it both ways and not expect to be called out. 

Giving The Hornets Credit When It’s Due.

pete

Had the fortunate opportunity to hear our friend Pete Guelli (EVP, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer of the Charlotte Hornets) talk this morning about the re-brand/marketing of the Hornets and the overall future of the franchise.

It was really enlightening to hear about how much good Jordan has done for the organization since he took over ownership. Bringing in guys like Rich Cho and Pete has really set us up for long-term success on and off the court.

Think about the situation we were in with Bob Johnson and how slowly we’ve crawled ourselves out of a very deep hole. When these guys were brought in by Fred Whitfield and Jordan they took on the long arduous process of not only trying to put a good product on the court but also trying to create a brand that this city could be proud of… and let’s be honest. They had a huge hill to climb with a Bobcats brand and a 7-59 team.

You’re talking about guys like Cho, who have achieved feats like taking Corey Maggette and Ben Gordon and slowly trading a paper clip into a Porsche for Nicolas Batum. A player 5 other teams reportedly were willing to pay a max deal for this past off season and we got him for 5 years AND 30 million dollars less than he was reportedly being offered.

This is where a guy like Pete comes in. Not only did he help bring the Hornets name back, but he is in the room with these free agents when we are pitching our team, market, and brand to them. He helps us keep guys like Batum, Marvin, Kemba, and MKG for bargains. Simply because he can sell them on what we are building here…..Which with this core is CONSISTENCY. It feels like a strange word to say in association with this franchise but look at the Coaching staff and our core. A good deal of teams at the beginning of this season will be scrambling to find their identity, this is a common issue when major pieces are moved, luckily for us, we won’t have that problem.

Some pessimists and frankly impatient people are screaming “THE SKY IS FALLING” simply because they are looking at the roster and don’t see a superstar. However, look at those contracts.

thecore

I see the most consistent player on our team last season in Marvin, I see a PG that is still climbing in potential (coming off an All-Star caliber season), I see one of the best defensive players in the NBA and Batum… a guy that 5 other teams offered a max contract to…. they are all good players.

THEN… look at the available players in next years free agency when the Cap space will be going up again and we don’t have to worry about signing these guys back… There is a reason patience is a virtue.

We often complain about this franchise and in the past, we’ve had very good reason to but we encourage you not to let the mistakes of the past sway your optimism for the future. Times are changing and individuals who can be trusted are now in control. We are not saying be blind sheep but do have a little faith in the process. After having sat down with both Rich Cho and Pete Guelli we have to say…these guys have our endorsement.