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Difficult Decisions Abound: Jerry Richardson’s Next Moves Will Have Lasting Consequences

October 27th, 2012 at 5:22 PM
By Jesse Collin

The Carolina Panthers (1-5) slowly and steadily plummeted into the NFL abyss over the first five games of the season.

When they finally hit the bottom in their sixth game, everything fell apart.

And fast.

Last Sunday's heart-wrenching 19-14 loss to the Dallas Cowboys sucked every last ounce of hope out of a beleaguered Panthers fanbase, who, since 2010, has watched their team lose 29 of 38 games.

A dejected, defeated Cam Newton added insult to injury with another embarrassing post-game press conference. In addition to calling a female reporter "sweetheart," the second-year quarterback sarcastically welcomed the media to submit ideas about how to improve the offense via a suggestion box.

But  Cam did say one thing that made sense.

“Something’s going to have to change, he told the media. Something’s going to have to change, real fast, in order for us to make that next step, because it’s the same old thing.” 

And something did.

Marty Hurney, Carolina's general manager for more than 10 years, was abruptly fired  the following day.

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

The decision to part ways with Hurney was nothing more than a desperate move by Jerry Richardson, the most desperate man  in the Panthers organization.

Richardson, who is 76 years old, has been a beloved figure and respected owner since bringing the Panthers to Charlotte in 1993.

However, his franchise has been behind the eight-ball for the third straight season. Since 2010, the Panthers (9-29) own the worst record in the NFL.

The fans are fed up. There is a lot of fingerpointing at the players, coaches and management.

The locker room is in complete turmoil.

Jerry Richardson has insisted  that Cam Newton will be his last quarterback. He knows that his legacy – and Newton's – hinge on the next few seasons.

Richardson used Marty Hurney, his general manager of 10-plus years and one of his closest friends, as a sacrificial lamb to send a message to the team and its fans.

As the team owner, he wants to let his players know that all of them are being evaluated. He wants to find out who is part of the past and who is going to be part of the future. Richardson also has to tell the restless Panthers fanbase that he is thoroughly committed to putting a winning product on the field.

Barring a miracle of epic proportions, Hurney's exit is just the first step in the eventual overhaul of the front office and coaching staff.

But in any case, the more important question is about who will be getting hired, not fired.

Choosing a new general manager and head coach will be the most critical decisions in the history of the Carolina Panthers franchise.

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Tags: Cam Newton, Carolina, Carolina Panthers, Football, Jerry Richardson, Marty Hurney, NFL

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