The forgotten man behind Panthers' biggest, boldest moves


(Photos courtesy of the Carolina Panthers)

The Talk of Fame Network

The Carolina Panthers not only haven’t lost this season; they haven’t lost in their last 14 regular-season games. And there’s a reason.

They’re talented, they're balanced and they’re deep.

They can run. They can tackle. They have an MVP candidate in quarterback Cam Newton, and they have a Coach-of-the-Year candidate in Ron Rivera.

So how did all it happen? For an answer, we went to the source for an answer, talking to the man behind the biggest and boldest moves by the Panthers. GM Dave Gettleman? Nope. We went to his predecessor, Marty Hurney, who drafted Newton, Luke Kuechly, Thomas Davis, James Stewart and Josh Norman and chose Rivera as his head coach.

Hurney was fired in the middle of the 2012 season after the Panthers lost five of their first six, but his fingerprints are all over this team. And, as he told The Talk of Fame Network on our latest broadcast, he feels a measure of satisfaction – as he should -- with what’s going on now.

“I do,” he said, “but it’s not satisfaction as much as I know all those guys. And Dave Gettleman has done a great job. Look at how deep this roster is now. And look at the acquisitions of (defensive linemen) Star (Lotulelei) and Kawann Short. It’s the ultimate team game, and everybody makes everybody better. I root for them every Sunday. I still talk to people over there on a frequent basis.

“I love Dave Gettleman ... I think Dave’s done a great job. It’s just so many people have to be good to be successful in the NFL. And to get to (10-0). That’s incredible. That’s so hard to do. And there are so many people involved in it. I’m so happy to see them have the success.”

Hurney was also the guy who found Greg Hardy in the sixth round of the 2010 draft, and that worked out fine for awhile – with Hardy setting the Panthers’ franchise sack record with 15 in 2013. But after Hurney left, Hardy got in such deep trouble with a domestic violence case that the Panthers cut him --- with Dallas stepping in to sign him.

Result: The Panthers are 10-0 without him this season, and the Cowboys are 1-5 with him. So the question: Why take a chance on Hardy in the first place?

“He was a first-or-second round pass rusher who was there in the sixth round,” said Hurney. “Antonio Brown was there in that same round, (and) he had more coach-ability-type questions. And we loved him as well. But we took Greg Hardy because he had such great pass-rushing skills. And when you looked at it he did have questions. They had questions at Ole Miss about reliability.

“He was a little different. He was a different personality. Anybody you talked to would tell you that. But I remember the first time we met with him was at the East-West game, and he came up for a 15-minute interview in a suite we had. And 45 minutes later he left, and you did shake your head. Because it was a different interview than we normally had.

“But his talent as a pass rusher was so great, and he hadn’t gotten into any major off-the-field problems. He was a different personality. But he didn’t have any real legal issues. And we just thought it was a risk/reward thing.

“When I was there, we didn’t have any off-the-field issues with him. He rode his motorcycle in July. He slid on it and missed some time. He hurt his leg and missed practice time. But there were never any real off-the-field issues with us … There weren’t any legal issues or any off-the-field type issues that we found that would prevent us from taking him. And we thought he was worth the risk in the sixth round…

“The first three years it looked like a good decision. Then, obviously, he ran into problems.”

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