Speaking on his success as a general manager in just more than three years with the Carolina Panthers, Dave Gettleman told Charlotte’s Rotary Club Tuesday why it was important to him to keep quality people on staff when most new GMs would have cleaned house.
Gettleman, who spoke for about 20 minutes following Carolina’s organized team activities session on Tuesday morning, admitted afterward how rare it is to keep everyone on board when there’s a new sheriff in town.
“It doesn’t happen,” Gettleman told the Observer. “If you had put $1,000 down on me not firing anybody, right now, you’d be in Coconut Grove drinking Mai Tais. It doesn’t happen. I had no interest in firing anybody.”
Gettleman took over as general manager in January 2013 after the Panthers fired Marty Hurney midway through the 2012 season. The Panthers had not been to the playoffs since the 2008 season, and Gettleman had a quarter-century worth of experience – and friends – in the league when he was hired.
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But rather than bringing in his own people, Gettleman asked those with the franchise to change some of their scouting philosophies.
“When you fire someone, you fire their wife, spouse, significant other,” he told the group. “You fire their families.
“I’ve been fired. It stinks. … I said when I get the keys to the castle, I’m going to give everybody an opportunity.”
Gettleman retained his pro and college scouting departments and only added veteran pro scout Clyde Powers. Carolina has been to the playoffs in each of the past three seasons.
Gettleman referred to articles he read in 2010 in the years following the recession. He said he read that companies that retained “the largest number of valued employees” bounced back quicker than those that cleaned house.
That was his mindset when he came to Carolina, and it paid off with a trip to Super Bowl 50 in February.
Sporting News named Gettleman the NFL’s executive of the year earlier this year, and that honor was mentioned by Knights general manager Dan Rajkowski when he introduced Gettleman.
But Gettleman wouldn’t take all the praise.
“I stepped back after four and a half months with people who I asked to make a pretty serious philosophical shift and, for many of them their work process, they all bought in and here we are three years later,” he said. “Dave Gettleman didn’t do all of those things by himself. Absolutely not. Not even remotely close.”