Throughout his quarter century in the NFL, Dave Gettleman would watch friends and co-workers get front office promotions and opportunities to run a team as its general manager.
All the while, Gettleman kept working scouting, evaluating talent and helping put together the pieces for teams that played in six Super Bowls. Gettleman earned three Super Bowl rings, but never a general manager job.
After interviewing Gettleman on Wednesday, the Panthers announced a few hours later they had hired the New York Giants' senior pro personnel analyst as the third general manager in the team's history.
It's the first GM job for Gettleman, 61, one of two Giants executives who interviewed.
The Panthers' interest in Gettleman and Giants college scouting director Marc Ross was not surprising, given Panthers owner Jerry Richardson's admiration for the Mara family and the Giants organization, and the fact that former Giants general manager Ernie Accorsi consulted on the search.
I was very impressed with Daves experience and think he will be a very good fit for our organization, Richardson said in a statement released by the team. He has an extensive background in personnel and comes from an organization in the New York Giants that I hold in high regard, and he played an instrumental role in their success.
Gettleman drew a comparison between the Panthers and the team he's worked for since 1999.
I am honored and thrilled to have the opportunity to work in the Panthers organization, Gettleman said in the release. It is similar to the Giants organization in which I have had the privilege of working the last 15 years, and has a lot of pieces in place for success. I am excited about getting started.
Terms of Gettleman's deal were not disclosed.
A team spokesman said it might be next week before Gettleman is formally introduced in Charlotte.
Gettleman is one of four known external candidates to interview for the post, all of whom had extensive scouting experience. Besides the two Giants execs, Tennessee Titans vice president of pro personnel Lake Dawson and Montreal Alouettes general manager Jim Popp also met with Richardson.
Panthers interim general manager Brandon Beane also was considered.
Gettleman replaced Marty Hurney, who was fired in October after a 1-5 start. The Panthers rallied to win five of their last six games to finish 7-9, saving head coach Ron Rivera's job.
Richardson decided to keep Rivera after meeting with him last weekend, just before beginning the general manager interviews.
Gettleman, the pro personnel director his first 13 years with the Giants, inherits a Panthers' team that is $16 million over next year's projected salary cap. Among his first decisions will be figuring out what to do with cornerback Chris Gamble and linebacker Jon Beason, a pair of high-priced veterans coming off injuries.
Giants co-owner John Mara said he had mixed emotions about Gettleman's news.
Dave certainly deserves to be a general manager, but I am very sorry to lose him, Mara said in a statement. He has been instrumental to the success we have had and we are certainly going to miss him. He will do a great job for the Carolina Panthers.
Gettleman worked closely with Accorsi in New York until 2007 when Jerry Reese succeeded Accorsi as the Giants' general manager. Reese worked under Gettleman at the time of his promotion, according to a Giants' spokesman.
Pat Hanlon, the Giants' senior vice president of communications, said Gettleman interviewed for the general manager job in Kansas City when the Chiefs hired Scott Pioli from New England in 2009.
In an email to the Observer, Accorsi said he's happy for Gettleman.
He is totally deserving, Accorsi said. And he's joining a good organization and a great owner.
When the Giants reorganized their pro personnel department last summer, Gettleman was shifted to a newly created position. Ken Sternfeld took over as the director.
Gettleman has been a part of three Super Bowl winners the 1997 Broncos and the 2007 and 2011 Giants. Giants coach Tom Coughlin praised Gettleman as a talent evaluator.
Dave knows what a football player is. He knows how to evaluate talent, Coughlin said in a statement. He has done a great job of assessing our talent and the talent around the league and helping to identify those players who fill our needs. He is gifted and talented, and has worked for years behind the scenes to make sure we are the best we can be.
Former Panthers general manager Bill Polian gave Gettleman his start as a scout. The two had met in upstate New York when Gettleman was a high school coach and Polian worked for the Chiefs.
After Polian became the Buffalo Bills' general manager, he hired Gettleman as a scouting department intern in 1986. As Gettleman moved up the ranks with the Bills, Broncos and Giants, Polian said he was surprised Gettleman had to wait as long as he did to become a GM.
I was awfully surprised he hadn't gotten an opportunity, particularly given the success the Giants have had, Polian said in a phone interview. Those jobs, sometimes it's just being at the right place at the right time. But he's certainly qualified and he's certainly deserving.
Polian called Gettleman a grinder.
To football men, that's a term of endearment. And he is that, Polian said. He has a great family, but he's all football and he's going to give you everything he's got in the job and more. I'm happy for him and so should Panthers' fans.