It was just recently that former (or soon-to-be former?) Pittsburgh Steelers minority owner David Tepper’s purchase of the Carolina Panthers from former owner Jerry Richardson was made official. Yet in just that short period of time, he has already made a strong positive impression on the team’s head coach, Ron Rivera.
He made presentations to each of three top candidates while the bidding stage was still underway, and that is when Rivera first became a fan of his new owner. “During that time he listened and asked questions — and asked good questions concerning personnel and stuff like that”, he said. “We didn’t touch the salary cap or anything like that. I just thought it went very well”.
Since then, he has come to learn of the Pittsburgh native that he wants to be an owner who places accountability, discipline, and community service as among his top priorities, certainly values that he is taking with him from the Steelers’ organization.
“He’s really strong on that”, he said of the community and discipline approach, “which I thought was outstanding”.
Tepper, who said that he was “blessed with a pretty good football side here”, has his first task in front of him as owner, which is to hire a president for the business side that will conduct the day-to-day operations, since their president resigned last season. That is about the only change he is expected to make right now.
“I’m not looking to do too much there. I think we’ve got some good folks there”, he told reporters. “I know people always want to hear things that are bad. They’re not bad. Sorry, can’t do it. It is what it is. The Panthers have reached the postseason in four of the past five years, and went 15-1 in 2015, reaching the Super Bowl.
The new owner was also complimentary of his new head coach, calling Rivera “a head coach that understands himself”. He has been the Panthers’ top coach since 2011, at this point being among the longest-tenured head coaches behind some obvious exceptions such as Mike Tomlin, Bill Belichick, Sean Payton, and Mike McCarthy.
Rivera pointed out to Tepper that while the Panthers have a strong roster, they have some important players who are pillars of the team nearing the ends of their careers, and that a period of transition to at least some degree is on the near horizon.
He wanted to “hear his philosophy, his expectations, his directive on certain other things”, Rivera said of Tepper when it comes to preparing the partial reconstruction of the roster. The new owner is coming aboard in the middle of the summer, where the heavy lifting for the upcoming season has already been done.
It will be interesting to follow Tepper’s tenure with the Panthers, who is certainly hoping to have a much better time of it than Jimmy Haslam, another former Steelers minority owner who purchased the Cleveland Brownsb.