David Tepper Could Try To Bring Steelers Execs To Panthers
NFL Panthers Owner David Tepper could be considering "tapping into his past and trying to pry loose some personnel people" from the Steelers, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com. Sources said that some around the league believe Tepper is "eyeing" Steelers VP & GM Kevin Colbert, whose contract is up after this season, and/or VP/Football & Business Administration Omar Khan. Tepper had been a minority owner in the Steelers but is "in the process of selling his interest" since buying the Panthers in '18 (ESPN.com, 12/7). PFT's Mike Florio said the Panthers "are going to be hiring both" a head coach and an Exec VP/Football Operations, and he was "told that the focus would be hiring the coach first, then the executive VP." Florio added, "With David Tepper putting his imprint on the organization, I'm told that an outside-the-box hire isn't out of the question" ("FNIA," NBC, 12/8).
AMICABLE SPLIT: Tepper received lots of praise this week for how he handled the firing of coach Ron Rivera, allowing him to conduct a press conference at Bank of America Stadium and giving him a kind of sendoff from club-owned media. One team exec predicted that will set something of a trend. Sources said that this reflected two things: Lessons learned as a limited partner to the Rooneys in Pittsburgh, and Tepper's own extraordinary confidence borne from his successful multi-billion dollar bets at Appaloosa Management (SBJ Football). USA TODAY's Nate Davis wrote Tepper is "revealing the type of culture he wants to imbue within his franchise." His firing of Rivera was the "right (and classy) move given Tepper had already determined he was going to take the franchise in a new direction following the season" (USA TODAY, 12/9).
BIDDING FAREWELL: In Charlotte, Scott Fowler noted Rivera bought a "full-page ad in Friday's Charlotte Observer to say 'thank you.'" Rivera wanted to "make sure it said exactly" what he and his wife Stephanie wanted it to say, including a "line thanking David Tepper, who had fired Rivera only 72 hours earlier." Fowler: "Seriously, Rivera should teach a business course on how to make a graceful exit" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 12/8). Rivera said, "I give Mr. Tepper credit for explaining why he did it and why he was doing it now -- wanting to get started on the process and knowing he was going to make a change." He added, "He was very forthright. If owners explained it to coaches that way, I think people can go away with their head up. That's how I felt. At the same time, he didn't want me dangling in the wind, with it being reported every week that 'He's on the hot seat.' ... When you're in this league long enough and you see things, I'd much rather go out with my head up and my dignity intact" (NBCSPORTS.com, 12/9).