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Meet Dave Gettleman, the Carolina Panthers new general manager

By Joseph Person
jperson@charlotteobserver.com

New Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman wore the New York Giants' latest Super Bowl ring to his introductory news conference Tuesday, and talked about winning another one with his new team.

When he came to Charlotte last week for his interview, Gettleman told Panthers owner Jerry Richardson about his Super Bowl vision. He shared it the following morning with head coach Ron Rivera, a day after Gettleman had been named GM.

“I told Mr. Richardson in the interview, I told Ron when we had breakfast Thursday morning,” said Gettleman, who won two titles with the Giants and one with Denver. “I said, 'If we do this right, you and I are holding up the trophy with Mr. Richardson.'”

Gettleman, 61, waited 25 years for his first GM job. After he did not “get a sniff” for any of the four GM openings last offseason, Gettleman took a step back in the Giants' pro personnel department – a move he said he initiated.

Gettleman went from running the department to the newly created position of senior pro personnel analyst, and began thinking about his personal and professional legacy. But when the Panthers hired former Giants GM Ernie Accorsi – a longtime friend and former colleague of Gettleman – to consult on the search, Gettleman thought he might finally get his chance.

“I'm not an idiot,” Gettleman said, drawing laughter at a press conference attended by his family, the media and much of the Panthers' brass, including Richardson, Rivera and team president Danny Morrison.

Gettleman declined to discuss his contract details.

Gettleman said he believes his age was a deterrent in getting interview opportunities for previous GM jobs.

“It's about the person doing the hiring,” Gettleman said. “I just needed someone who was looking for an older, more mature guy. That's really what it came down.”

Gettleman said he agreed with former Panthers GM Marty Hurney's philosophy of building through the draft. He also said there are good bargains to be found in free agency.

Asked to describe the Panthers' salary cap situation – they are projected to be $16 million over next year's cap – Gettleman declined, saying he needed more time to evaluate the roster.

As for inheriting a coach he didn't hire, Gettleman said it's the same situation Giants GM Jerry Reese faced with Tom Coughlin in 2007 after Reese replaced Accorsi.

“If you remember, Tom was under incredible heat. We'd gone to the playoffs. (Carolina) had come up there in '05 and just kicked our fanny. Then in '06 we go 8-8. We struggled to get in the playoffs. Tom was under a tremendous amount of heat,” Gettleman said. “It's the same situation. My responsibility is to make everybody better. My job is to support everyone, to get their input and move forward with clear lines of communication, teamwork. That's my job.”

With Coughlin as coach, Reese and the Giants won the Super Bowl the next season.

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