We’ve said it before, and we’re going to say it again: Panthers fans who won’t give Marty Hurney’s radio show a chance because of the way his era in Charlotte ended are missing out.
Last month, after defensive end Greg Hardy was found guilty in his domestic violence case, Hurney explained what would come next well before it happened. Last week, the former general manager quietly returned to Spartanburg and conducted a series of interviews worth listening to.
Head coach Ron Rivera, quarterback Cam Newton, running back DeAngelo Williams, tight end Greg Olsen, center Ryan Kalil, defensive end Charles Johnson, and linebackers Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis could have done a number of things after Thursday’s practice. Yet they all went to talk with their former boss. Even current general manager Dave Gettleman spent a few minutes on-air.
There’s no question Hurney made mistakes, especially in his final few years, but he had a hand in bringing each of the players listed above to Charlotte. In Davis’s case, not only did Hurney draft him, but he also gave him one more chance to resurrect a career that appeared over.
“I sit here before you today because of that decision,” Davis said.
And while taking Newton with the No. 1 pick in 2011 seems like a no-brainer now, if not for Hurney’s convictions back then, there was a chance the Panthers could have replaced Jimmy Clausen with Blaine Gabbert.
Newton began his segment by thanking Hurney for “how much of an impact he was on my career.” Then, for the first time publicly, he opened up about the two inconsistent seasons that began his career.
“It kind of was a learning curve, especially when you was here, with having (former offensive coordinator) coach (Rob) Chudzinski,” Newton told Hurney. “He opened the floodgates with material right from the jump. I didn’t like it then because coming from a hand signal philosophy from Auburn, it was kind of force-feeding a kid with carrots. I didn’t want to learn it, and I was always trying to complain about the workload.”
Newton and the Panthers set a handful of records while piling up yards those two seasons. And while Chudzinski’s offense was fun to watch, it loaded nearly all the pressure on the shoulders of the team’s young quarterback.
“It was too much. ‘Y’all putting in too many plays. We only can run one play!'” Newton recalled telling the staff at the time. “Me and coach Chudzinski were always butting heads with the workload because I came from a system that was look to the sideline and play — fast. Make plays.”
To be fair, Newton did say Chudzinski’s advanced and accelerated system helped him eventually become a better player. But it’s hard not to wonder if an offense focused more on winning than yards gained would have seen the Panthers sneak into the playoffs during either or both of Newton’s first two seasons.
If you’re interested in listening to them, Hurney’s interviews from last Thursday can be found at this link.
- Cam Newton and Peter King break the ice. — MMBQ
- The debut of Newton’s new online video series. — BBR
- Greg Hardy has a November court date. Explaining his options now. — BBR
- Another road ends for former Panthers’ receiver David Gettis. — ProFootballTalk
- Football 101 is back. — Panthers.com