The Carolina Panthers are reportedly close to re-hiring former general manager Marty Hurney for the position he was officially fired from in 2012.
The NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported Hurney met with Panthers owner Jerry Richardson on Tuesday and is expected to be named the interim GM if things went well.
Hurney was the Panthers’ GM for 10-plus seasons before being relieved of his duties after the Panthers got off to a 1-5 start in 2012.
Hurney said at the time he was fired and did not resign, although team and league sources have said it was more of a mutual parting of ways.
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Hurney, who still lives in Charlotte and owns sports radio station ESPN730, has remained close with Richardson and is well respected throughout the organization. He also drafted or acquired a number of key players on the roster, including Cam Newton, Luke Kuechly, Ryan Kalil, Thomas Davis and Greg Olsen.
Hurney is expected to lead the Panthers’ personnel department this season while the Panthers conduct a more comprehensive search for a successor to Dave Gettleman, who was fired Monday after four-plus seasons.
A league spokesman says teams only have to comply with the Rooney Rule when interviewing candidates for a full-time position.
But the head of the Fritz Pollard Alliance, which advocates for minority hires in leadership positions with NFL teams, believes the Rooney Rule should apply with interim hires. The Rooney Rule requires teams to interview at least one minority candidate for leadership positions such as head coach and general manager.
“The Rooney Rule clearly states that if you are hiring a person or in search of filling a position and that position has to do with being in charge or being in charge with personnel, then you must adhere to the Rooney Rule,” John Wooten, chairman of the Fritz Pollars Alliance, said in a phone interview.
“Now I’ll grant you that we have not seen this interim type of thing before,” he added. “But whatever it is I’m sure that Mr. Richardson will abide by the Rooney Rule.”
Teams can be fined for failing to comply with the Rooney Rule, although that is believed to have happened only once when the NFL fined the Lions $200,000 for hiring head coach Steve Mariucci in 2003 without talking to any other candidates.
The Panthers promoted Brandon Beane to interim GM after Hurney left in 2012 without interviewing any minority candidates – at least no interviews that were made public.
While conceding the interim tag is rare, Wooten says the spirit of the rule should be the same.
And Wooten expressed confidence that Richardson, who’s always been close with the Rooney family, would act accordingly.
“He did that when he hired Ron Rivera (who is of Hispanic descent) ... and in the hiring of Dave Gettleman he adhered to the rule totally,” Wooten said. “So I have no reason to feel he won’t do the same here.”