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Old 11-18-2010, 06:42 PM    (permalink
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Default Stupidity, Arrogance and Neglect: A Carolina Panthers story

In order to understand the mess that the Panthers are in after just two years ago earning home field advantage in the playoffs you have to go back to the beginnings of not only the franchise, but its owner.

As a player for the Baltimore Colts Jerry Richardson made one great play in his career, a touchdown catch from Johnny Unitas after catching just six balls previously in his career during a super bowl, it would also be his last catch as an NFL wide receiver.

A year later, he was out of the league. During the offseason following that super bowl Richardson, along with Unitas and a few of the other players were involved in a pay dispute with the owners of the franchise. Over a few thousand dollars Richardson left professional football and chose instead to start a burger stand catering to truckers and drivers travelling through North Carolina.

What would later become Hardees eventually gave Richardson, who had developed a reputation as a cut-throat business man the ammunition he would need to bring an expansion franchise to the Carolinas.

Richardson built up his rhetoric machine following the award of the franchise vowing to bring a super bowl to charlotte and to build a team the fans could be proud of. Richardson however, has run the team like a business from day one, introducing PSL's, essentially seat licensing; pricing many fans out of the lower levels. Instead the pricing structure has caused the team to cater for an older, wealthier crowd who won't tolerate boisterous activity in their sections (see Carolinas vaunted home field advantage).

To put it bluntly, the team isn't built to run like a sporting franchise- it's not designed as an organization to chase rings, chase records or anything of the sort. It's just another business. Case in point; the Carolina Panthers have consistently ranked in the top of the league as one of the most profitable franchises in the NFL, despite being in the 5th worst TV market and despite inconsistent performance as a team over the club's history.

For those who don't know, TV money is the cash cow that fills the trough for most NFL teams.

To understand the current issues with the franchise that had to be established.

When Marty Hurney took over as general manager of the Carolina Panthers he did so as a company man who was formerly simply a contract and capology guy. It was his job to make everyone Seifert wanted fit within the cap space and he did so quite well. In '02 he had no real interest in taking the main job but did so under the impression his job responsibilities would remain largely the same. Do the contracts let the coaches and scouts find the players.

For a time it worked quite well, Fox turned around 2nd worst team in the NFL and took them to a super bowl, an NFCCG and in 08; the playoffs before a Jake Delhomme meltdown.

In 2009, everything changed.

The previous labor sharing agreement altered a few key areas that were quite obviously upsetting to a few owners. A larger percentage of total revenue was being used as part of the salary cap and the owners altered their revenue sharing agreement; essentially forcing the more profitable franchises to prop-up (for lack of a better term), the least profitable. This was done to in theory produce a better overall product allowing greater prosperity for everyone involved.

Richardson being the cut-throat businessman he is, running the sports team like a business developed his plan to as he put it in a speech earlier this year "take back the league".

Here's where everything fell apart for the Panthers.

Richardson's hard-line and his alliance with other hard-line owners meant a lockout became a possibility- more than in recent history. He began to prevent John Fox from signing high price free agents. Hurney was instructed to work under what you could call a "soft cap". Some cheap or core veterans were signed or extended including Delhomme, Gross and Gamble but others were allowed to walk. All the while the coaching staff was left to pour over waiver wires and scrap heaps for players who may or may not have something left in the tank.

It's believed that some time during the 09 season that Fox became disenchanted with the line the team was taking; not being allowed to build the team he wanted, with the players he needed but being expected to shoulder the blame was beginning to cause a rift between the front office and John Fox.

In the latest offseason Fox was given an even tighter leash with draft picks and with free agent spending. He had to fight tooth and nail to bring back Tyler Brayton, granted not an All Pro but good enough and versatile enough to keep John Fox's defensive line competitive for another year.

All of his veteran finds were cut from the team; even well-loved safety Chris Harris was traded for peanuts when he complained on twitter that his friends were being cut wholesale from the team.

The draft choices of Clausen and Armanti Edwards and the trades; both attempted and actual were decisions made by Hurney the trade of next year's 2nd for the popular Edwards to the Patriots and the choice of Clausen were absolutely not endorsed by Fox.

This left Fox in something of a no man's land; quit without a team just before the beginning of the year and possibly torpedo some of your job choices next year, force the team to fire you and gain 6 million or phone it in, get the same pay day while distancing yourself from the team's offseason choices, thereby salvaging your options in 2011. The choice was a proverbial no brainer.

For the above reasons and probably more Fox began to distance himself early from the personnel decisions stating in more than one press conference "you'll have to ask the financial people" or the "personnel dept" when questioned why the team didn't address such obvious holes in the lineup during the offseason.

Rumors are beginning to abound that many players who're hurt of underperforming this year who're John Fox's core guys, like Thomas Davis, Beason and DeAngelo Williams have been told, simply "stay hurt" with the promise that Fox will take care of them next year or beyond with a new team.

Moore's shoulder injury and Clausen's "concussion" have lead to Fox now announcing Brian St Pierre to start against Baltimore. A sign that Fox may just be extending a certain finger to the front office keeping their golden boy draft pick on the bench and sending in the new signee when the season is all but over.

Jerry Richardson has realistically made a business decision to run the team into the ground for his own personnel arrogance, vendetta and drive for profit. The way the team's set up, it WILL survive and continue to see profit should the league shutdown for a year or two.

John Fox whose given years to building this team has been handcuffed the last two years, and that should explain what's happened to the franchise and how a coach hailed at one of the NFL's best has turned in a lackadaisical performance the last two years.

As a fan with no geographical ties to the team I find it hard to want to continue. Part of me finds some solidarity with current fans and players who're suffering from the above factors but realistically, why spend money on jersey's and other memorabilia including a planned trip to see a game or two next year when this is how the ownership repays the fan's loyalty?

All I know is that the labor agreement has caused issues, but they've been exacerbated by the owner and my gut feeling is that it's going to be a long road back to contention unless the right coach and players come to Carolina which is going to be hard to fathom given the mess the franchise is now in and how Richardson has limited the ability of the current staff to bring in the firepower needed to win games, let alone championships.

It presents an interesting dichotomy between winning games and making money. Richardson's eyes are on the long term bottom line, rather than on running a viable team. Similar problems abound in Washington.

Might be a "team forum bro" post, but I wanted to post this here to point out how ****** an NFL franchise can get and the impact it can have because of one owner. How he looks a guy like Steve Smith in the eye I'll never know.

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Old 11-18-2010, 07:03 PM    (permalink
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Old 11-18-2010, 07:04 PM    (permalink
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Fox will suck it up and then move on to a new team next year. Richardson will promote someone in the organization and then the "rebuilding" process will continue.

What can you do? Every franchise eventually hits a "lull" or a "rebuilding" phase. The Panthers were a solid NFC contender for most of the past decade and now all of those players have moved on from the organization.
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Old 11-18-2010, 07:13 PM    (permalink
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These things are so over done. No offense CC
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Old 11-18-2010, 07:14 PM    (permalink
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Fox will suck it up and then move on to a new team next year. Richardson will promote someone in the organization and then the "rebuilding" process will continue.

What can you do? Every franchise eventually hits a "lull" or a "rebuilding" phase. The Panthers were a solid NFC contender for most of the past decade and now all of those players have moved on from the organization.
No, that's just it. Who wants a job where at a given time the owner could decide that he doesn't need to pay you top dollar, or give you free reign to bring in the best players because he doesn't NEED to in order to make money.

My point is that basically that Richardson could have the least successful franchise in the NFL for the next ten years and still turn profit.

Veterans didn't and wouldn't have simply "moved on" the rebuilding process was not an organic one. Throughout the time Fox has been there the team has found good draft picks and accented them with good veteran pick ups. This hasn't been allowed to happen.

This isn't your standard rebuilding, it's an owner gutting the franchise and stopping his coach from doing his job.
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Old 11-18-2010, 07:15 PM    (permalink
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These things are so over done. No offense CC
dood he said it in the post

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Might be a "team forum bro" post, but I wanted to post this here to point out how ****** an NFL franchise can get and the impact it can have because of one owner. How he looks a guy like Steve Smith in the eye I'll never know.
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Old 11-18-2010, 07:29 PM    (permalink
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Great write-up, great post. I have a friend who is a Panthers fan and he is about to give up too.
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Old 11-18-2010, 08:06 PM    (permalink
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Good article, blindsite, thx for posting it.

My relatives in Raleigh followed the team fairly closely the last few yrs. & told me that Richardson became an embittered old man when he was diagnosed with some nearly fatal illness & it showed in all aspects of his business dealing. IDK if it was cancer or what, but he seems to have beaten it now, & he likes to wrap himself in the reputation of the Only NFL Owner to be a Former NFL Player.

Isn't that kind of like Al Davis crowing about how he's the only owner who used to be a former NFL HC?

From all outward appearances he's become the Donald Sterling of the NFL & is throwing Fox, one of the few truly nice guys per what his peers & close friends said about him in a job heavily populated with cutthroat predators, under the bus. Jerry Jones is among those close friends Fox has, & his tem just created an opening at the top.....

The small mkt. status of Charlotte (despite being voted in the top 10 Best Cities in the US to Reside for several yrs running, largely b/c of its lower COL) & the rash of injuries to the starters have exacerbated their loser reputation, & FAs don't seem to want to play there. If this trend persists look for Carolina to finish below Tampa in their division without much improvement in the W-L rcd.

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Old 11-18-2010, 08:07 PM    (permalink
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This is why I still have hope that the Giants will be able to steal away Ryan Kalil...
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Old 11-18-2010, 08:14 PM    (permalink
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This is why I still have hope that the Giants will be able to steal away Ryan Kalil...
You stay away from Kalil

Lizard, you're right, he had a heart disease of some flavour and managed to catapult himself to the top of the donor list some how.

He's open and outward about his status as the only former player owner and uses it to his advantage in some situations but it's his drive for money that's hurting the team more than anything and his stupidity in his "take back our league" stance.
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Old 11-18-2010, 08:16 PM    (permalink
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You stay away from Kalil

Lizard, you're right, he had a heart disease of some flavour and managed to catapult himself to the top of the donor list some how.

He's open and outward about his status as the only former player owner and uses it to his advantage in some situations but it's his drive for money that's hurting the team more than anything and his stupidity in his "take back our league" stance.
Come on bro, you can keep DeAngelo and co. I just want Kalil.
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Old 11-18-2010, 08:25 PM    (permalink
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The Panthers situation reminds me of what Red McCombs did to the Vikings when he was trying to sell the team. He ran a bare bones front office and scouting department, brought in no free agents and refused to re-sign guys just to save money.
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Old 11-18-2010, 09:09 PM    (permalink
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Someone hit me with a tl;dr.
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Old 11-18-2010, 09:15 PM    (permalink
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Bad drafting - mostly dealing with focusing on a few positions and ignoring others. Injuries have killed them as well...but that wouldn't be so bad if they hadn't drafted so poorly. The other thing is the failure to draft a QB with real potential while Jake Delhomme was still trying to figure out just how much he was going to tank.
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Old 11-18-2010, 10:01 PM    (permalink
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Bad drafting - mostly dealing with focusing on a few positions and ignoring others. Injuries have killed them as well...but that wouldn't be so bad if they hadn't drafted so poorly. The other thing is the failure to draft a QB with real potential while Jake Delhomme was still trying to figure out just how much he was going to tank.
The only inherently bad draft realistically was the last two where Fox had minimal control.

10:
Clausen (hurney
LaFell (Agreed choice, based on the staff's LSU connection)
Edwards
Pike
Hardy
Gettis

09:
Martin
Goodson
Munnerlyn

08:
Stewart
Otah
Connor
Hayden

07:
Beason
Kalil
Johnson
Rosario

06:
Williams
Marshall
Anderson

05:
Davis (admittedly, rest of this draft was terrible

04:
Gamble
Wharton

03:
Gross

Since Fox arrived, he has done fairly well in the draft.

The bad picks were mostly Hurney and really the others fell to the wayside for a variety of reasons, some injury, some scheme changes, but as far as drafting goes most of the really important contributors to the team in 08 and 05 the successful years were a product of the draft.

It's the not being able to replace the failures in FA that have hurt most of all.

TL:DR for the lazy:

Richardson gutted the team as a **** you to the NFL and makes profit irrespective of how the team performs due to it being run for profit regardless of it's impact on fans.
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Old 11-18-2010, 10:41 PM    (permalink
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This is why I still have hope that the Giants will be able to steal away Ryan Kalil...
Silly Giants fan. Ryan Kalil will be a Bear.
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Old 11-18-2010, 10:46 PM    (permalink
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Silly Giants fan. Ryan Kalil will be a Bear.
Har har. He would look mighty good manning that center spot....mmm.
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Old 11-19-2010, 12:25 AM    (permalink
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I dont want to hear any other team ***** about a owner when u have rooted for a team run by Mike Brown for the last 20 years. He invited the words Greedy and Cheap
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Old 11-19-2010, 12:38 AM    (permalink
descendency
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Originally Posted by FuzzyGopher View Post
The Panthers situation reminds me of what Red McCombs did to the Vikings when he was trying to sell the team. He ran a bare bones front office and scouting department, brought in no free agents and refused to re-sign guys just to save money.
But Jerry Richardson isn't trying to sell the team. He's trying to squeeze out every dime he can.
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Old 11-19-2010, 01:40 AM    (permalink
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Feel for you mate...

I'm lucky enough to have a guy who seems to be a good owner that is committed to winning. Unfortunately my team instead has a douchebag QB and a completely unlikeable HC.

It's hard when you really don't like the team you support for the most part! I like Hutch, Peterson, Allen, Williams Wall, Greenway, Henderson and Winfield and that is just about it.
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Old 11-19-2010, 06:45 AM    (permalink
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This confuses me about owners trying to 'squeeze out every penny', THEY HAVE SO MUCH MONEY ANYWAY, dang
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Old 11-19-2010, 08:45 AM    (permalink
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There are a lot of things I don't get in the post, but I'll just post one so it doesn't seem like I'm ripping apart your thread.
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Moore's shoulder injury and Clausen's "concussion" have lead to Fox now announcing Brian St Pierre to start against Baltimore. A sign that Fox may just be extending a certain finger to the front office keeping their golden boy draft pick on the bench and sending in the new signee when the season is all but over.
Is Clausen able to start? I mean, if he's not able to start because of a concussion, I don't see how this could be a sign of anything. He's simply starting the only available quarterback on his roster.

And if Clausen is able to start now, but Fox doesn't like him as a prospect (or at least how you put it: he wasn't an endorsed draft choice by Fox) then why did he ever start him in the season? If you tell me the front office pressured him to start Clausen earlier in the season, then why aren't they doing the same thing now?

Again, I'm not trying to attack you, I'm just legitimately confused.
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Old 11-19-2010, 10:14 AM    (permalink
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bengalsrocket View Post
There are a lot of things I don't get in the post, but I'll just post one so it doesn't seem like I'm ripping apart your thread.


Is Clausen able to start? I mean, if he's not able to start because of a concussion, I don't see how this could be a sign of anything. He's simply starting the only available quarterback on his roster.

And if Clausen is able to start now, but Fox doesn't like him as a prospect (or at least how you put it: he wasn't an endorsed draft choice by Fox) then why did he ever start him in the season? If you tell me the front office pressured him to start Clausen earlier in the season, then why aren't they doing the same thing now?

Again, I'm not trying to attack you, I'm just legitimately confused.
I'm assuming the implication is that Moore is legitimately injured so therefore he is out. Which would mean Clausen would be next in line, except he has a "concussion" and with the way the way everyone is focusing on concussions currently, even if the front office wanted to pressure Fox into starting Clausen it would be a PR nightmare to do so. Imagine the backlash any organization would experience currently if there was a serious implication they told a coach to play a player with anything resembling a concussion.

As an aside, I'm not sure that should be in parenthesis but BlindSite certainly pays more attention to the Panthers than I so perhaps there is a feeling it isn't really a concussion.
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Old 11-19-2010, 10:31 AM    (permalink
FuzzyGopher
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But Jerry Richardson isn't trying to sell the team. He's trying to squeeze out every dime he can.
He's bracing for a lockout. If there is one his income stream will decrease significantly so he is cutting costs now to soften the blow. Yes he will will get money from television contracts but will lose gate revenue, concessions etc.
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Old 11-19-2010, 10:49 AM    (permalink
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Funny they are trying to avoid spending money on draft picks and FA. But if they end up with the number 1 over all pick and end up having to pay crazy monies cause they tried to skimp on the team. irony?
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