Decision time nears for Panthers owner Richardson
The time for Panthers owner Jerry Richardson to make several
critical decisions is drawing near.
With one week left in the season, Richardson will need to make a
pair of decisions in the coming weeks that’ll dramatically shape
the future of the organization. Richardson must determine who’ll be
the team’s next general manager and whether to keep coach Ron
Rivera around for another season.
Richardson could not be reached for comment on Monday.
Rivera, who is 12-19 in two seasons as Panthers coach, said
Monday he hasn’t had any recent discussions with Richardson about
He said he expects to meet with Richardson after the season,
which ends Sunday against New Orleans.
”There have been no assurances” from Richardson, Rivera said
regarding his future with the team. ”Mr. Richardson has been
steady just like he’s always been.”
Right now Rivera said his focus is on preparing for the Saints
on Sunday and finishing 7-9, which would be a one-game improvement
over his first season with the Panthers.
”We’ll see once it’s all said and done,” Rivera said.
To his credit, Rivera has been able to keep his team together
after a 2-8 start and the Panthers have won four of their last five
games, including three straight.
One of those wins came against the Atlanta Falcons, the No. 1
seed in the NFC playoffs.
”I think we’re doing some really good things and I like the way
the guys have stayed focused and some of the things the guys said
after the game about playing for each other,” Rivera said. ”That
is very gratifying for a coach knowing that they’re hearing the
messages the coaches are sending. I appreciate their focus to the
details of preparing. We have done a lot of good things.”
When asked if he deserves to be back next season, Rivera said
”I look forward to the opportunity and it’s something that will be
dealt with when the season is over.”
Rivera, a former linebacker with the Chicago Bears, is well
liked by players and many have said it would be a mistake to fire
Rivera has two years left on his contract.
”It is great to fight for a guy that believes in us,” receiver
Steve Smith said following Carolina’s 17-6 win over the Oakland
Raiders on Sunday. ”We believe in him. It’s just a great way to
show our appreciation for someone. The tolerance he has for our
mistakes he takes the blame for, and gives us an opportunity to
say, `Hey look at our coach. Look at what he is doing for
As for the GM search, Richardson hired former Giants general
manager Ernie Accorsi as a consultant to find a replacement for
Marty Hurney, who was fired after a 1-5 start.
However, Richardson has been mum regarding the direction of that
process from the start and Accorsi hasn’t returned phone calls
seeking comment about which candidates he plans to recommend.
Because of his ties to New York, Giants director of college
scouting Marc Ross is one potential candidate that could get
attention, but Richardson can’t speak to any potential candidates
until after their teams are finished playing.
Brandon Beane is serving as Carolina’s interim general manager
and is also viewed as a candidate.
Falcons owner Arthur Blank believes Richardson made a good call
in hiring Accorsi as a consultant.
Blank hired Accorsi to help with his GM search in 2008. Blank
said at the time Thomas Dimitroff, whom he eventually hired, wasn’t
even on his short list of candidates before Accorsi recommended him
for the job.
Dimitroff has been a huge success in Atlanta.
”Ernie was very helpful in the process and he wasn’t afraid to
think outside of the box,” Blank said. ”He’s very knowledgeable
and he knows talent as a general manager. Thomas was a really good
hire for us. Jerry is a very bright owner and I think he made a
wise decision enlisting Ernie’s help for input.”
The Panthers (6-9) have not made the playoffs since 2008.
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